Driv­ing Stuttgart’s elec­tric fu­ture


THREE MONTHS AF­TER the Mis­sion E Cross Tur­ismo starred at the Geneva Mo­tor Show, Porsche rolled out the con­cept car for MO­TOR to test on real roads, in real traf­fic. How­ever, we’re un­der strict in­struc­tions to go easy on this hand-built, multi-mil­lion dol­lar one-off. So, no sub-5.0sec 0-100km/h runs, no full-throt­tle hooli­gan­ism, and easy-does-it cor­ner­ing in def­er­ence to the soft-com­pound 275/40 R20 off-road rub­ber. The E Cross Tur­ismo will be badged Tay­can – which trans­lates as a “lively young horse” – when it goes on sale in mid-2019 and over 100 pro­to­types are cur­rently rack­ing up test kays on all five con­ti­nents. The chas­sis we’ll drive is close to fi­nal spec, ex­plains Ste­fan Weck­bach, head of Porsche’s global elec­tri­fi­ca­tion pro­gram. “One mo­tor up front, one mo­tor in the back, all-wheel drive, un­der-floor bat­tery pack,” he smiles. Missing are air sus­pen­sion, rear-wheel steer­ing, and the sound gen­er­a­tor that will mimic a switch­able ex­haust. “At this early stage in the de­vel­op­ment process we are, of course, not yet run­ning on max­i­mum power and torque,” Weck­bach adds. So, to pro­tect pre-pro­duc­tion com­po­nents, first gear is by­passed and we’ll be in sec­ond at all times, and in­stead of the promised 440kW there is only around 330kW to play with. You can search the E Cross in vain for a starter but­ton, but given this is a cut­ting edge car there is a small on-off touch pad to the left of the steer­ing col­umn, which sets things in mo­tion – or is that e-mo­tion? And the trans­mis­sion lever, la­belled PRND, has now been moved to the two o’clock po­si­tion be­hind the wheel. That sounds pretty ba­nal, but the driv­ing menu can be spiced up by se­lect­ing one of five modes: Nor­mal, Range, Sport, Sport Plus and In­di­vid­ual. Not yet con­firmed are Eco, Wet and Off-Road set­tings. Nor­mal is all about lift-off coast­ing, Sport and Sport Plus are self-ex­plana­tory. Range (re­port­edly to be around 500km) does its best to quash get-home anx­i­ety, while In­di­vid­ual lets you tweak sus­pen­sion, steer­ing, sta­bil­ity con­trol, driv­e­train and sound­track to your pref­er­ence. On the wind­ing back­roads in the hills above Mal­ibu the elec­tri­cally-as­sisted steer­ing sets new stan­dards in terms of weight, damp­ing, pre­ci­sion, speed and turn­ing cir­cle. With a low cen­tre of grav­ity – bet­ter than any 911 – and near-per­fect weight distri­bu­tion, the car feels firmly planted, as if on a mag­netic field. Torque vec­tor­ing is by all-wheel drive, brake ac­tu­a­tion, and an op­tional elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled rear side-to­side diff lock. Stop­ping is con­trolled by a com­plex de­cel­er­a­tion ap­pa­ra­tus that com­bines con­ven­tional (or op­tional car­bon ce­ramic) brakes with a sin­gle­speed en­ergy re­cu­per­a­tion de­vice, but don’t ex­pect a fancy three-step, one-pedal sys­tem. “One pedal is not our phi­los­o­phy,” stresses Weck­bach. “This is a proper sports car; its mis­sion is un­tamed ac­cel­er­a­tion and in­stant torque, not liftoff brak­ing.” Speak­ing of un­tamed ac­cel­er­a­tion, floor­ing the throt­tle flat­tens ev­ery climb; it’s phys­i­cal, im­me­di­ate, and awe-in­spir­ing and Porsche is claim­ing a 0-100km/h time of un­der 3.5sec. But the driv­ing pub­lic is still a long way from fully ad­just­ing to E-cars and novice E-driv­ers will, no doubt, flinch when close to 1000Nm of torque gives them an almighty shove in the back. Rush­ing from cor­ner to cor­ner, you can still hear the wind, the squeal­ing tyres, the bee-bop of the Panam­er­aderived sus­pen­sion and oc­ca­sion­ally grat­ing brakes, but the bat­ter­ies, trans­mis­sions and mo­tors are all but noise­less. It’s a new driv­ing world, but Weck­bach re­as­sures me that the fu­ture of Porsche will be fa­mil­iar. “A plug-in Porsche must drive and per­form like a Porsche fit­ted with a com­bus­tion en­gine,” he stresses. “It must sus­tain long, flat-out au­to­bahn stints with­out over­heat­ing. Re­peata­bil­ity is key when it comes to full-throt­tle ac­cel­er­a­tion. The main dy­namic pa­ram­e­ters have to re­main through the en­tire bat­tery charge span. Only when the warn­ing light comes on, un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, per­for­mance may be com­pro­mised for range.” That’s re­as­sur­ing, and for one pre­cious mo­ment on a sunny Cal­i­for­nia day, high-end BEVs like the Porsche E Cross Tur­ismo, er Tay­can, seem to have only virtues and no down­sides.

ABOVE Soft com­pound off-road tyres fit­ted to the show car meant hard cor­ner­ing was out of the ques­tion on our short drive

CEN­TRE With in­stant ac­cel­er­a­tion, the Mis­sion E Cross makes mole hills out of moun­tain roads

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