Tesla takes on Porsche at Nurburgring, possibly with new ‘Plaid’ powertrain
|driving.ca 13 Sep 2019 at 11:21|
First there was derision. Then mockery turned into admiration. Now a battle is unfolding between two of the most revered names in the automobile world, Porsche and Tesla.
The venue of the showdown: Germany’s Nurburgring, the race track considered the most challenging in the world.
The circuit boasts 73 tight turns (Silverstone in the U.K. has 18), changing elevations and a brutal length of more than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) winding through leafy forest, earning it the nickname “Green Hell.”
It’s here that Porsche’s new Taycan Turbo S set the record as the fastest four-door electric car last month, clocking in at 7 minutes and 42 seconds. The feat wasn’t lost on a rival sitting thousands of miles away in California: Tesla’s Elon Musk. Always one to relish a good fight, Musk picked up the gauntlet and has dispatched a Model S to the German hinterland to reclaim the bragging rights as king of the electric sedan.
Model S on Nürburgring next week
The car confrontation has all the ingredients of an epic battle between incubent and upstart, infused with social-media feeds that have energized die-hard fans on either side of the Atlantic wondering which of the two cars can shave those vital extra seconds off their lap time. Adding to the frenzy is former Formula One racing champion Nico Rosberg, , an offer that Musk happily accepted.
Musk has a lot riding on the challenge. After Porsche unveiled the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S as its first electric cars last week, Musk teased the brand for its “turbo” nomenclature, because a turbocharger is only found in a combustion engine. Following the initial ribbing, he found more charitable words in a later tweet, acknowledging that the Taycan “does seem like a good car” and that the Nurburgring track time “is great.”
But Taycan does seem like a good car. Nürburgring track time is great.
Musk posted on September 6 that a Model S would make an appearance at the track “next week.” Indeed, a modified Model S has been spotted testing on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, according to Car and Driver, which appeared to show the car on the track as part of a general driving session open to others. The model sported flared fenders and an enlarged opening at the front, probably for extra cooling.
First Look: 2020 Porsche Taycan
When exactly the car might attempt to break the Taycan’s record remains shrouded in mystery. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on its plans for the Nurburgring.
Bolstering Tesla’s case, the company tweeted on September 11 that a Model S with a new “Plaid” powertrain beat the record for the fastest four-door sedan at Laguna Seca, a race track near Monterey, California, even though the time hadn’t been achieved during a competitive event and wasn’t officiated by staff at the track.
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(That’s a second faster than the record for a four-door sedan) pic.twitter.com/OriccK4KCZ
Pushing the round below 10 minutes is the ambition of all Nurburgring daredevils. The track is open to both professional and amateur drivers, and the fastest time with a street-legal sports car was 6 minutes and 44 seconds, performed in a Porsche GT2 RS MR on October 25 last year, according to the circuit’s web site.