EVs have been a great alternative to gas- and diesel-powered vehicles for at least a decade, and in many cases the superior choice. EVs are great for commuters because they’re cheaper to operate and maintain, and they emit no pollutants. Many people worry about range anxiety, but that’s slowly becoming a thing of the past as battery technology improves and charging infrastructure proliferates.
Another big selling point for EVs has been their potential for performance driving, especially with the “instant on” low-end torque they have. It wasn’t long before high performance EVs were beating even the best performance cars in the quarter mile, and many a Tesla owner (and even the owners of slower EVs) has a story about embarrassing someone at a light.
But, there’s one space where EVs haven’t really given gas-powered cars the hard-core smackdown: long races and races that aren’t just going really fast in a straight line. In road courses, lighter cars tend to take advantage of the laws of physics and handle better than heavy EVs. But, that’s a problem companies building EVs have been working on.
The new Porsche Taycan is a great example of that effort to catch up with their fossil-fueled competitors on long, twisty tracks, and Porsche recently revealed something really cool in that fight: a new record at Germany’s Nürburgring.
For those who aren’t familiar, The Nürburgring is a 150,000-person capacity motorsports facility in the town of Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It has a Grand Prix race track that was constructed in 1984 and a much longer Nordschleife “North loop” track that was constructed around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg in the Eifel Mountains during the 1920s.
It has become not only a famous racing track, but a benchmark for performance, vehicle design, and bragging rights. Supercar manufacturers often use a vehicle’s best time on the Nordschleife track as a selling point, with the practice going as far down market as the Chevrolet Camaro and version of the Ford Mustang. With a mix of straightaways, sharp turns, and other challenges, every aspect of automotive performance is needed on the track.
There was never any doubt that the Porsche Taycan would be a completely different animal on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, as it’s optimized for these things more than most EVs. Porsche development driver Lars Kern took 7 minutes and 33 seconds for a lap in the Taycan Turbo S, which is quicker than any previous series-production electric car has achieved on this track.
The new performance package and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) were fitted to the sports sedan, which was a standard production vehicle aside from the required roll cage and racing seats. It weighed the same as the series-production automobile. A notary witnessed the 20.8-kilometer circuit in Germany’s Eifel region where a new record time was set, while TÜV Rheinland verified that the record-breaking road car was a regular production model.
The Porsche Taycan Performance Kit includes 21-inch RS-Spyder design wheels with road-approved, Pirelli P Zero Corsa sports tires that are now available for the Taycan. Their tire compound is comparable to racing tires. A software update to the Porsche 4D Chassis Control, which regulates the suspension and ABS of the car, was also included in this package.
The system analyzes and synchronizes all Taycan chassis systems in real time.. “In the past, only thoroughbred super sports cars got into the 7:33 range,” says Kern. “With the new performance kit I was able to push even harder, and the car was even more precise and agile to boot.”
“We’re delighted that the Nürburgring record for electric cars is back in Porsche hands,” says Kevin Giek, Vice President Model Line Taycan. “This lap time not only shows how much potential lies in our new performance kit, but also confirms once again the sports car genes of the Taycan.”
Porsche Tequipment sells the performance kit. It is only available in Germany and for the 2023 model year Taycan Turbo S sports sedan, and it is only available now. Production of these vehicles began in mid-July 2022, with the performance kit expected to become available by the end of 2019.
The plan is for the retrofit to be completed after the Taycan’s initial delivery, in Porsche’s production facilities in Zuffenhausen. Transport and installation are both included. Track driving is the primary use for sports tires. At any time they choose, consumers may revert to conventional road tires instead of the track tires. When they do this, it is not necessary to reinstall the original chassis software.
Porsche also provided on-board video of the run for us to see:
For the readers who can’t watch the video, I’ll do a quick summary!
Right away, you can tell that you’re seeing something different compared to most videos at the ‘Ring. Instead of the sounds of pistons and fire, you’re hearing something more akin to Formula E, or the sound of electric motors. This makes the sound of the tires seem a lot more intense. The screen shows you throttle positions as well as how much brake power the driver is using.
While it doesn’t scream through the turns the way the best gas vehicles would, it makes up for that a bit with the quick climb back up to speed once the turn is over. Straight sections show us that it’s not missing much, and you don’t have to watch the driver climb through the gears only to throw the energy away at the next turn that had taken so long to build.
During the gentler curves, it almost looked and sounded like the car was flying instead of driving on pavement.
On the final straight section, where most cars climb through the gears and then try to maintain top speed for a bit, the Taycan quickly climbed to its top speed (indicated on the video in km/h) and basically just stayed there until the end of the section.
7:33 isn’t the fastest lap anyone has ever done with a production car, but it’s faster than any mass-produced electric car has ever done, including anything built by Tesla.
Featured image provided by Porsche.
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