The first indication that the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance is far from an ordinary race car comes during the safety briefing. In a serious tone, Porsche’s handlers warn us that if the dashboard lights turn red, we must quickly exit the car by perching on the door sill and leaping away to avoid any potential electric shock. The stakes are high, and they paint a picture of the car’s electrifying power, as if we were provoking the wrath of Zeus himself.
The second clue lies in the sound. Starting as a muted whir, the noise intensifies into a high-pitched shriek the moment our driver, Porsche Formula E reserve driver and IndyCar expert, Simona de Silvestro, presses the accelerator. Unlike the sonorous flat-six of the regular Cayman, the GT4 ePerformance features two electric motors that propel the car with an exhilarating surge as we tackle the first corner at the Porsche Experience Center in Franciacorta, Italy.
Introduced as a prototype after the futuristic Mission R concept we tested earlier, the Cayman GT4 ePerformance serves as a test platform for Porsche’s electric powertrain advancements. It offers a glimpse into Porsche’s future customer GT racing program and sets the stage for the upcoming electric versions of the 718 Boxster and Cayman.
Though its design may resemble its gasoline-powered counterpart, the GT4 ePerformance conceals a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive system capable of delivering up to 1073 horsepower. Even in Racing mode, it boasts an impressive 603 horsepower. Its 82.0-kWh battery is divided into three sections, with one upfront, one in the midsection where the Cayman’s engine would typically reside, and the last one in the passenger footwell, requiring us to adopt a Formula 1 driver-like seating position. In Racing mode, the battery lasts around 30 minutes, and with its 900-volt electrical architecture, Porsche claims the prototype can charge from 5 to 80 percent in just 15 minutes at a maximum rate of 350 kW.
Acceleration in the GT4 ePerformance is jaw-droppingly intense, the immense horsepower pushing us back into the seat with great force. Even Simona de Silvestro, a seasoned driver accustomed to high-performance vehicles, is impressed by the power and the excitement of all-wheel drive. The car’s agility on the track is remarkable, maneuvering through corners with instant torque and deftly navigating the tight and twisty circuit. Though it weighs around 3400 pounds, the abundance of power prevents any sense of sluggishness.
As we approach the main straight, the GT4 ePerformance accelerates to a mind-boggling rate, and the world becomes a blur, reminiscent of traveling at warp speed on the starship Enterprise. The car expertly regenerates energy during heavy braking, utilizing around 50 percent of the energy spent on acceleration, a significant improvement over a typical road car’s 3 percent. The front-mounted motor enhances energy regeneration during braking, thanks to the all-wheel drive configuration.
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