Ask Porsche people if they see Tesla as a rival for Nürburgring EV lap-record honours and the language gets fruity. “We love competition, that’s for sure. But we need apples-to-apples comparison, not apples-to-pears,” says Mayk Weinkötter, special spokesman for the company’s all-electric Taycan.
In June this year a pre-production Taycan ran an officially timed 7 minutes 42 second lap of the 20.6km German track, though Porsche did not reveal the achievement until August.
Only a few days later Elon Musk was tweeting. “Model S on Nürburgring next week,” promised the Tesla founder in early September. By mid-month a German magazine was reporting a Model S sedan unofficially clocking laps around 20 seconds quicker than the Taycan.
Then it emerged that the Tesla wasn’t exactly standard. The Model S was equipped with three motors. The current production model has two. Named ‘Plaid’ — a reference to the 1980s sci-fi comedy Spaceballs — the high-performance drivetrain is a prototype. It is “about a year away from production” according to another Musk tweet.
Yes. To be clear, Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S,X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y. Will cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2019
The record-breaking Porsche, in contrast, was exactly the same as a car offered for sale in Europe. “It’s a series-production car,” says Ingo Albers, Taycan chassis chief. Specifically, it was a Turbo model fitted with extra-cost items like PDCC sport chassis control system, 21-inch Pirelli tyres, rear-wheel steering and ceramic brakes.
“It’s a fully optioned car,” he says. “Then we put a roll cage for safety into the car. We replace the normal three-point belt by a race belt. And we put a race driver with a helmet inside …”
Porsche’s Nürburgring aim was set a scorching time with a car available on the market. “That’s our main goal, and we will not do and try any attempt with, let’s say, a race car, a one-off race car,” insists Albers.
“If there is a really ambitious driver, a very experienced driver, as a customer we want him to be able to set a similar time.”
The record-lap Turbo isn’t even the quickest model in the Taycan line-up. The Turbo S has a more powerful front motor than the Turbo, though both models share an identical rear motor. The maximum combined motor outputs of the Turbo S are 560kW and 1050Nm. Equivalent numbers for the Turbo are 500kW and 850Nm.
So could a Taycan Turbo S set an even quicker Nürburgring lap time than the 7 minutes 42 seconds of the Turbo? “Potentially,” admits Albers, with a knowing smile.
The engineer also says Porsche will respond if Tesla does manage a Taycan-beating apples-to-apples officially timed lap in a production car. “We are very open for that challenge.”
Albers adds a put-down, without mentioning the American company’s name. “We are very confident what the result is.”
Originally published as Porsche and Tesla rivalry goes next level