It was daft to expect too little. But, as the old man still says to me, “expect nothing, son, and you’ll never be disappointed”. Ever the optimist.
On paper, though, the bald figures suggested that a Porsche 918 Spyder would arrive at the MIRA proving ground for our road test too overfed and under-muscled to get near the sharpest end of these hypercar shenanigans.
Porsche’s typical nonchalance implied that they wouldn’t be pushing to squeeze every last ounce out of it, either. “Hope you don’t mind,” they said, “because I know we don’t usually; but we thought we’d bring a technician with us, in case anything goes wrong. Is that okay?”
“Of course,” we said, because ‘a technician’, singular, is nothing compared with the army of engineers and advisory racing drivers and tyre pumpers that accompany some extremely fast cars from elsewhere.
(We don’t mind that, either, I should say; although the rush sometimes flusters the sandwich assembler in the MIRA canteen.)
But the 918 is a Porsche, of course, and Porsche hasn’t won nine out of 26 of our Handling Days, and come achingly close to winning several more, without good reason. There’s a reason, too, that, during the past decade or so, the number of former Autocar staffers who’ve gone on to spend their own money on a Porsche is, I think, into double figures.
And during all that time, Porsche has never sent anyone to our tests to change its cars’ tyres, nor even check pressures, or fluid levels; yet still it often emerges totally dominant.
So it was daft to expect anything different for the 918; and even though Porsche’s technician had some spare tyres in the back of his Macan, he looked quite happy to leave them there. His idea of checking the rubber currently fitted to the car was to have a quick look, place his hand on one to see how hot it was, and shrug his approval.
In the event, the 918 Spyder completed all of the tests we set it at MIRA on a single set of tyres and, in the process, went faster than anything else we’ve tested around our dry handling circuit – Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, McLaren P1, Radical SR3 SL, a works Vauxhall Vectra BTCC car included – with considerably less support. In the hands of deputy road test ed Saunders, the 918 was more than a second clear of the next fastest.
It’s also one of only three cars that have made us ponder using more than one decimal place when quoting in-gear figures. The others were the Veyron and P1, unsurprisingly: cars that want less than a second to travel from one speed, to another, 20mph higher.
All that means we've awarded the 918 our coveted five-star rating. I shouldn’t have expected anything less.