Porsche is getting closer to putting a battery-electric sports car on sale. It’s not quite there yet, but after showing off the Mission R concept in 2021, the company is now hard at work making sure the electric powertrain technology that the concept was supposed to showcase will stand up to the work expected of a Porsche sports car. The company is accomplishing this with a pair of 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance cars.
You normally expect to find a flat-six engine behind the cockpit of a Cayman GT4 (whether it’s one of the road-going cars or the motorsports-appropriate Clubsport variant). In the ePerformance version, that’s where the car’s battery pack lives.
It’s an 82 kWh pack designed to be able to deliver sustained performance for the duration of a sprint race—between 25 and 40 minutes. Porsche has also increased the voltage compared to its other BEV (the 800 V Taycan), as the 718 GT4 ePerformance (and the Mission R) will run at 900 V. This lets the car DC fast-charge from 5 to 80 percent in just 15 minutes.
How fast and powerful the 718 GT4 ePerformance is depends on the mode you have it set to. For qualifying, the battery can output a maximum of 985 hp (735 kW), sent to a permanently excited synchronous motor at each axle. In race mode, the aim is not to provide a single lap of speed but sustained performance over at least half an hour, and the battery’s output is pegged back to a still-hefty 603 hp (450 kW).
“The integration of oil cooling has significantly impacted the vehicle concept,” explained Björn Förster, GT4 ePerformance project manager. “With experts in the fields of aerodynamics and thermodynamics as well as high-voltage and bodywork specialists, the development team created an architecture to tap the full potential of the battery cells for the first time, since there is no thermal derating. In this way, the power output in racing mode remains constant for half an hour,” he said.
There are a few additional details about the ePerformance that differ from other Cayman GT4s. The car is 5.5 inches (140 mm) wider, and the body is made from natural fiber composites. Other components make use of recycled carbon fiber, as Porsche looks for ways to decrease the emissions from its manufacturing processes. Even the tires have a high degree of recycled materials in them.
If you’re lucky enough to be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England in June, you’ll get a chance to see the 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance’s first public outing as it tries its hand at the hill climb. It’s a larger, heavier car than VW’s ID.R racer, but in qualifying mode, the Cayman will also be significantly more powerful, so there’s an outside possibility that VW’s record may not be safe.
After that, Porsche will take its pair of test cars to different events in Europe before bringing them to the US in 2023. The idea isn’t just to show off a cool new toy but to show Porsche’s racing customers what the future is starting to look like.
“The 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance blazes a trail to Porsche customer racing with electrically powered racing cars. As a first step, we will unveil this concept to our global partners,” said Oliver Schwab, project manager of the 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance. “With drivers, teams, organizers, authorities, and other interested parties, we’re also gathering ideas for Porsche racing formats in the future.”