The primary trace that the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance isn’t any unusual race automobile comes through the security briefing. If the dashboard lights flip pink, Porsche’s handlers clarify in an ominous tone, we must exit the automobile by perching on the door sill earlier than leaping as distant as potential. If we make the error of touching the car and the bottom on the similar time, Porsche warns, we could also be in for a shock, presumably ending up charred to a crisp as if we had personally angered Zeus.
The second clue is the noise. What begins as a monotone whir as you trundle down pit lane turns into a shrill shriek the moment our chauffeur—Porsche System E reserve driver and IndyCar hotshoe Simona de Silvestro—nails the go pedal. Regardless of the Cayman nameplate, there isn’t any sonorous thrum of a flat-six right here, however as an alternative a high-pitched scream because the ePerformance’s two electrical motors rocket the automobile into the primary nook of the monitor on the Porsche Expertise Heart in Franciacorta, Italy.
Revealed earlier this summer season, the Cayman GT4 ePerformance prototype is a follow-up to the unconventional Mission R idea that we drove final 12 months. Whereas that idea centered on a futuristic design, the GT4 ePerformance acts as a take a look at mattress for Porsche’s electrical powertrain growth, previewing what’s subsequent for Porsche’s buyer GT racing program and suggesting what we would see from the upcoming electrified 718 Boxster and Cayman.
The GT4 ePerformance’s form is acquainted, mimicking the curves of its gas-powered counterpart and driving on the chassis of a 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. However the bodywork, constructed from a pure fiber composite and stretching 5.5 inches wider than the Clubsport upon which it is primarily based, hides a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup able to as much as 1073 horsepower.
That determine represents the all-out Qualifying mode, however even in Racing mode, the ePerformance is able to 603 horsepower. The 82.0-kWh battery is break up into three sections—one mounted up entrance, one behind the motive force the place a Cayman’s engine would sometimes be discovered, and the ultimate pack residing within the passenger footwell, forcing us to take a seat with our legs angled upward like a System 1 driver. In Racing mode, the battery lasts roughly half-hour, and due to a 900-volt electrical structure, Porsche claims the prototype expenses from 5 to 80 % in quarter-hour at a most price of 350 kW.
Acceleration within the GT4 ePerformance is head-snappingly violent, the oodles of horsepower pinning you to the seat and compressing your organs because the car launches ahead. Even de Silvestro, who earns a dwelling piloting high-performance monitor monsters at prime velocity, appears impressed. “It is bought numerous energy,” she says, with the added thrust of all-wheel drive making it “fairly enjoyable.”
On the monitor, de Silvestro would not maintain again, slinging the ePerformance from nook to nook, the electrical motors’ prompt torque hitting with full power earlier than she slams on the brakes, the four-point harness straining to stop us from flying by way of the windshield. The ePerformance devours corners, attacking the curbs and quickly slithering its approach by way of the tight and twisty monitor. With round 3400 kilos to maneuver, the ePerformance takes some wrangling, however the immense quantity of energy prevents the automobile from feeling flat-footed.
As we flip again onto the principle straight, the ePerformance shoots ahead at a brain-scrambling price. We push towards 150 mph, and the world turns to a blur, as if we had been aboard the starship Enterprise after Commander Sulu activated warp velocity. The ePerformance squirms beneath heavy braking into Flip 1, regenerating power whereas protecting us out of the wall. Whereas a street automobile might get well solely round 3 % of power by way of braking, prototype undertaking supervisor Björn Förster tells us, the ePerformance is able to recuperating round 50 % of the juice it spends on acceleration. Having all-wheel drive helps acceleration, however as Förster explains, the principle benefit of the front-mounted motor is further power regeneration beneath braking.
Whereas the efficiency from the GT4 electrical prototype is extremely spectacular, what stands out most is the sound. The whine might by no means elicit fairly the identical soul-stirring response because the resonant howl of a Porsche flat-six, however the rise and fall of the rpm from the electrical motors is riveting and otherworldly, constructing to a swell because the ePerformance accelerates, the audio cues serving to to make sense of the immense velocity. In contrast to most roadgoing EVs, the place the dearth of sound fails to match the power of acceleration, the GT4 prototype gives the audible theatrics to match the mind-blowing efficiency.
After the roller-coaster experience, we ask Förster what facet of the ePerformance he is most happy with. Is it the prodigious quantity of energy? The power recuperation? Or the fast-charging 900-volt structure?
It is none of that, based on Förster. It is topping the expectations for an EV and displaying automobile lovers that electrical automobiles can carry the emotion and character that made us fall in love with automobiles within the first place. The longer term is unquestionably going to look, really feel, and sound totally different, but when the 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance is any indication, we’ve motive to be excited.
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