A couple weeks ago, I shared the story of a new variant of the Porsche Taycan setting a lap record at the famous Nürburgring. But, a recent story about a gas-powered car that isn’t known for being the most amazing sports vehicle on the road shows us that electric vehicles still have a long way to go before they’ll be on par with gas vehicles, but it’s a worthy goal that the industry should strive for.
Porsche’s Record Lap
The Nürburgring is a motorsports facility located in the town of Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with a seating capacity of 150,000. It features a Grand Prix circuit that was built in 1984 and a longer North loop track that was built around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg in the Eifel Mountains during the 1920s.
The Nordschleife track has become lap-time bragging rights for not only famous racing teams, but also a display of excellent car performance and design. Many supercar manufacturers use a vehicle’s best time on the Nordschleife as an advertising point — even going so far as using it to sell less expensive cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. With its combination of straights, sharp turns, and other difficult areas, every part of automotive performance is put to the test on this course.
There was never any question that the Porsche Taycan would be a different animal on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, as it is tailored for these things more than most EVs. In the Taycan Turbo S, Porsche development driver Lars Kern achieved 7 minutes and 33 seconds on the track, which is faster than any previous series-production electric car has done there.
Compared to other videos at the ‘Ring, you’ll immediately notice that something is off about it. You’re hearing sounds more like Formula E or the sound of electric motors rather than the noises of engines and fire. This makes the noise of the tires seem much louder on-screen. The screen also displays throttle settings and how much brake strength the driver is applying, so you can tell it’s not making gas car sounds.
It’s also not moving like gas cars typically do at the track. While it doesn’t scream around curves like the best gas vehicles, it makes up for it a little by quickly climbing back up to speed after the turn is done. Straight portions prove that it isn’t losing much, and you don’t have to worry about watching the driver go through the gears only to squander all of his or her energy at the next bend that had taken so long to build.
7:33 isn’t the quickest lap ever recorded using a production vehicle, but it’s faster than any mass-produced electric car ever done, including Tesla’s.
The VW Golf’s Record Lap
While they didn’t set an all-time record for gas cars or production cars of any kind, they did set a record for VW Golf models. The Golf R “20 Years” edition clocked an official lap time of 7:47.31 minutes, thanks to its exclusive standard equipment, optimized driving dynamics and a standard output of 245 kW (333 PS). This significantly improved performance guarantees an emotionally charged motorsport experience between the “Schwedenkreuz” and “Döttinger Höhe” track sections.
The flying start of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife time trial was held in front of grandstand T13. The measurement’s start and finish are at the beginning and end of the grandstand, with 200 meters in between not included. It is important to have confidence in one’s car, as well as a safe driving experience. At all times, the Golf R “20 Years” maintained its line by effortlessly mastering the quick changes between kerbs and following bends such as “Hatzenbach.”
The improved engine tuning of the Volkswagen R anniversary vehicle is another indication of progress in development compared to the previous model. The preloaded turbocharger is also kept running at a constant speed in overrun mode, allowing the engine to develop power faster during subsequent acceleration. This technology is aided by an open throttle valve that is continuously opened and closed by the driver when they switch off the accelerator and then back on again. It allows for quicker torque build-up and significantly enhances the engine’s reactivity when the driver removes their foot from the accelerator and then reverts it back on again.
“With this car, I can drive here on the Nürburgring and the next stop is then the baker’s or the DIY store. The vehicle is really an all-rounder that can do everything,” says a visibly impressed Benjamin Leuchter.
When The Best Production EVs Don’t Beat An Upgraded Grocery Getter By Much
That last part, with the quote by the driver saying he could take the car to the store next, isn’t an exaggeration. The Volkswagen Golf R “20 Years” edition isn’t a slouch by any stretch, but it’s no Corvette or Porsche, either. While certain versions of it can do great things, it’s still built on the same platform as a grocery-getter hatchback car like many other people drive daily.
Porsche’s record run only beat this car by ten seconds. In racing, ten seconds is a long time, but keep in mind that we’re talking about beating a 4-door front-drive economy car with upgrades versus the fastest mass-produced EV ever put on the same track. Surely a car built from the ground up for performance would outperform something built on a frame for commuting, right?
I don’t write this to diss EVs. My point is that EV technology is still in its infancy in most respects. The Golf R and its latest performance variant are the result of over 100 years of continuous improvement of gas-powered vehicles globally, while EVs have only been taken seriously again for the last couple of decades. So, to be fair, the grocery-getter had an 80-year head start.
Battery technology is the biggest thing holding EVs back on tracks and letting modified grocery-getters rival them. The low power density of an EV’s battery pack means it needs to carry a lot more weight around to carry around the same amount of energy. All of that extra weight can be made up for on the drag strip, but when turning corners is part of the race, lighter gas cars have a distinct advantage.
But, that doesn’t mean EVs won’t ever take the track away from the lighter gas cars. Just think of where battery technology will be in 80 years. There will come a time that EVs take away everything that’s dear to gas-powered machines, and that’s a goal worth aspiring to in the industry.
Featured image provided by Volkswagen.
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