The track is still moist in spots, the marbles on both sides of the racing line shout “caution,” and the maintenance squad has begun to steam clean the roadside drainage system. Tension is in the air as we approach today’s subject. Only three people have driven this car so far without a watchdog in the passenger seat. I’ll be number four.
Over the last 24 months, Porsche’s hand-built, electric-powered sport sedan—the metallic white Mission E that’s charged fully and ready to roll—has clocked less than 200 miles, most of them until today on the Portim o circuit in Portugal. To drive it, you need permission from the board of directors and a highly specialized crew trained to deal with the bytes and possible bugs that could befall the one-off, high-voltage prima donna.
The Mission E also has a lap timer. “Why not?” says project engineer Michael Behr. “This car is smog-free but is also a hoot to drive thanks to the low center of gravity, the dedicated air suspension, and the precise steering. Make no mistake: This is a proper Porsche through and through.”
Speaking of proper Porsches, the all-new 911 GT2 RS production No. 0001 we’re also getting a chance to play with at the brand’s Weissach test facility is a brand-defining car. One look at its massive, single-decker rear wing, flared carbon-fiber sills, and protruding horizontal front spoiler is all it takes to understand that this is definitely not your neighbor’s 911. Its black and red color scheme and its three huge nasal air intakes are bound to guarantee more overtaking prestige than a pair of cop cars with lights flashing. All those louvers, ducts, splitters, aprons, skirts, and air blades scattered like a rash across its muscular body are designed to befriend the wind and placate the heat.
The nature of Weissach’s miniature Nordschleife layout makes it easy to warm up the massive ultra-high-performance tires. Early on, the front end likes to understeer when entering the circuit’s two tightest kinks, and the ABS feels compelled to step in early. Since it takes braver men than me to deactivate PSM, the rear end contributes only the odd exit wriggle during the temperature-building process. As near-maximum grip manifests itself, the handling balance becomes so sweet and subtle it gives you the chills.
There is much more to come soon from the Weissach think tank, such as the proposed fully electric 929-style coupe derived from the same DNA, and the all-electric Macan replacement. Also arriving, of course, are the GT3 RS and a Speedster as the last 991 derivatives before the all-new 992-series 911 arrives late next year—complete with a hybrid power pack, which will be added as soon as the market is ready for it. Will the market be ready for the Mission E in late 2019? Porsche is about to find out.