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Porsche GT4 ePerformance First Drive Review: The Future of Racing

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Electrification is sweeping throughout the automotive business at ludicrous pace, however just a few producers have even considered the right way to apply this to motorsports. If what wins on Sunday sells on Monday, a number of manufacturers have some work to do to remain related. 

Porsche, however, is pushing the curve. Involvement in Formulation E since 2019 taught the corporate’s engineers what works and what does not on the subject of electrified racing. Nevertheless, to essentially draw that line again to the dealership flooring, Porsche wants to affect its GT racing program. That begins right here, with the GT4 ePerformance.

The place the gorgeous Mission R is a visible assertion of what the way forward for Porsche Motorsports will appear to be, the GT4 ePerformance is extra like a rolling testbed. Porsche’s engineers, designers and manufacturing unit drivers will use this to refine and form the applied sciences to make all of it work. It is a 1,000-horsepower, dual-motor look into the long run.

That is 1,072 horsepower to be precise, or 800 kW of energy in qualifying mode. That is only for fast bursts. In race mode, the automobile develops someplace nearer to 600 horsepower, nonetheless properly greater than the 425-hp 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport with which this automobile shares a chassis.

It is a chassis that wasn’t designed to accommodate 82 kilowatt-hours price of batteries, which is why that capability is cut up throughout three separate packs. The largest — roughly half of the overall capability — sits behind the motive force the place the engine would usually go. The second pack, round 20 kWh, rides shotgun on the passenger flooring, whereas the third pack is up entrance the place the gasoline cell needs to be. 

These packs energy a pair of electrical motors, one located down low between the entrance wheels and a second between the rear. Sure, it has all-wheel drive, however Porsche engineers instructed me that entrance motor is not actually wanted for acceleration. It is principally there to allow more-efficient regenerative braking.

Because the weight of a automobile shifts ahead beneath braking, the entrance stoppers wind up doing a lot of the work. Within the GT4 ePerformance, that interprets to the entrance motor doing a lot of the regeneration. How a lot? Porsche expects that, over a 30-minute dash race, the automobile might regenerate as a lot as 30 kWh of electrical energy, so it will probably get away with a smaller pack.

Smaller brakes, too. Although the GT4 ePerformance is each quicker and heavier than the gas-powered 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, it makes do with smaller Brembos in any respect 4 corners. The 2 techniques are seamlessly mixed via a brake-by-wire system — one which I used to be a bit of dismayed to be taught lacks ABS.

2022 Porsche GT4 ePerformance with smoke coming from the tires.

Porsche

It is received no traction management, both, as I used to be knowledgeable proper earlier than I used to be strapped into the cockpit of the prototype electrical racer on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. That is a truth I’d go on to verify. Whereas filming, I ended on the entrance straight to get far between myself and the digital camera automobile. When it was time to go I stepped on the gasoline and was confused for a second when the automobile did not transfer. A second later, I spotted it was as a result of I used to be doing an epic, four-wheel burnout. A cloud of tire smoke quickly enveloped the automobile.

Apart from that grin-inducing second, I discovered the grip of the GT4 to be prodigious, and the general expertise to be an actual pleasure. A number of energy? Oh sure, even within the lower-spec race mode, the automobile leaps out of the corners, however the throttle curve is surprisingly docile, so it was no drawback digging a bit of deeper so as to add extra pace once I realized I used to be too gradual into one of many circuit’s many lengthy, off-camber corners.

The brake pedal, too, has a great quantity of journey in addition to wonderful really feel. Because the system is brake-by-wire, there’s completely no distinction in really feel whenever you attain the edge of the regenerative braking and transition into the bodily brakes. It at all times simply feels constant and inspiring, lap after lap.

2022 Porsche GT4 ePerformance

Only a prototype? This factor felt able to race.


Porsche

The steering is gentle as properly, and that distribution of batteries means the automobile is admittedly properly balanced, way more so than your common 911. An excessive amount of pace within the nook means the GT4 often simply pushes out vast. I managed to lock all 4 brakes into the primary activate one lap and the automobile did not attempt to swap ends on me. I simply lifted off the left pedal and carried on. I even made the apex.

And how briskly was I going into that first flip? Although Porsche says the automobile has a theoretical max pace of 300 kph, or 186 mph, the gearing it used right here meant the highest pace was a quite extra conservative 272 kph, or 169 mph. At that pace, I might really feel the downforce pushing the automobile into each crease and wrinkle within the asphalt. 

The entrance straight at Valencia is not significantly lengthy, so it wasn’t till I received up into the complete, 1,072-hp qualifying mode that I discovered the limiter. With the automobile totally turned up it truly is a little bit of a unique creature, vicious out of the corners and requiring that I ease all my braking factors again. In spite of everything, although the automobile had some 30% extra energy than earlier than, it nonetheless had the identical brakes and tires. 

Between stints on the observe, I backed the automobile as much as a Degree 3 charger and let it do its factor. Normally by the point I would had myself a drink and a assume, it was able to roll once more. Sooner or later, Porsche expects 350-kW chargers at race tracks will deliver the automobile from 5% to 85% in simply quarter-hour — in all probability dimming each gentle within the county when you could have a full paddock of this stuff charging concurrently. 

2022 Porsche GT4 ePerformance

Is that this what racing will appear to be in 2026?


Porsche

At present, there are only a few circuits with that form of charging capability. Even this one didn’t, necessitating Porsche bringing in its personal charger for the occasion. However observe house owners have a while to determine it out. Porsche hopes to have this automobile able to put in clients’ race bays in 2026. Whereas I anticipate some shoppers might be skeptical, there are such a lot of causes to be enthusiastic about this. Race vehicles are sometimes gauged by how costly they’re to run per hour. With few fluids to alter and much fewer shifting components than a standard track-bred Porsche, the GT4 ePerformance won’t solely be a enjoyable and interesting means into top-tier racing however a (comparatively) accessible one, too.

Solely time will inform on that entrance, however I can say the Porsche GT4 ePerformance is a outstanding machine, a succesful and confidence-inspiring prototype that makes me ever extra optimistic about the way forward for motorsport, even in an emissions-free world. And what a few road model of an electrical 718 Cayman? Porsche nonetheless is not speaking, but when this factor might be successful on Sundays in 2026, absolutely Porsche will need one thing in dealerships for the next Mondays.


Editors’ word: Journey prices associated to this story have been lined by the producer, which is widespread within the auto business. The judgments and opinions of CNET’s workers are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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