THE star at this year’s Frankfurt motor show wasn’t up for debate.
Porsche’s all-electric Mission E delivered a knockout one-two of ambition and execution, its sights firmly on the challenge thrown down by Tesla.
While Elon Musk’s Palo Alto brains trust has a 10-year head start, Porsche is taking advantage of lessons learnt in the development of its Le Manswinning 919 hybrid. The Mission E’s drivetrain has a similar layout of two permanently excited synchronous motors that together develop more than 440kW and propel the all-wheel-drive sedan to 100km/h in under 3.5sec.
Combine that capability with four-wheel steering, torque vectoring and the ability to develop full power even after multiple accelerations and Porsche’s claim of a Nordschleife lap time of less than eight minutes seems wholly credible. Drive with a little more restraint and a 500km range is reportedly possible.
The Mission E can replenish its batteries to 80 percent charge (or 400km range) in only 15 minutes via an 800-volt ‘Porsche Turbo Charging’ DC system whereas most EVs operate at 400v. Those are the headliners, but the details are equally intriguing.
The lightweight aero rims help offset the unsprung weight of huge 21-inch front and 22-inch rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres while tiny cameras on the edges of the front guards project their images onto the windscreen.
And you will never lose the key because your smartphone works as a digital fob.
Porsche has clearly been rattled by Tesla. The US company’s Model S appeared in 2012 just as Porsche launched its Panamera luxury sedan. Three years ago Porsche CEO Matthias Muller said, “I don’t know anything about Tesla.”
Fast forward to Frankfurt and the tune has changed. “We have great respect for Tesla,” Muller said. “They are the only one who have brought an electric vehicle on the market that you have to take seriously.”
So while Porsche might like to play games with the press, it’s deadly serious about beating Tesla.
In the sleek Mission E, it has the car to inject some much needed charisma into the EV genre.
A moveable body panel in front of the left door gives access to the charging port, or alternatively there’s a wireless inductive charging system that can be built into your garage floor.
Mission E has room for four adults in specially crafted, lightweight racing bucket seats, while interior space is boosted by the lack of a conventional transmission tunnel.
Super clever OLED digital dash boasts an eye-tracking system, gesture control and even a holographic display that projects information “far into the passenger’s side”.