TopSpeed’s Top 5 All-Electric Performance Cars
They slice! They dice! They even destroy performance records!by Jonathan Lopez, on
Last week, we took a look at our top picks for the best five hybrid sports, listing off some truly awe-inspiring gas/electric combos that proved hybridization wasn’t something to be feared by the common auto enthusiast. But while adding a big battery pack and a few electric motors might seem like a pretty sizable modification to the traditional sports car formula, there’s an even-greater change lurking just over the horizon – the pure-electric powertrain. That’s right, gasoline need not apply in this crowd, and yet, the speed potential is still enough to melt your face. This is our list of the top five all-electric performance cars.
There are plenty of benefits that electric power offers over internal combustion, especially when it comes to the business of going fast. For starters, the torque curve for an electric motor is totally flat, with maximum twist created the instant you touch the long pedal to the right. There’s also zero power loss at high altitude, a characteristic that’s particularly useful at hill climb events like Pikes Peak. What’s more, with enough motors and a little electronic wizardry, you can get away with some pretty kick ass torque vectoring dynamics. Of course, it’s not all roses – for example, the all-electric appliance noise will never beat the sound of exploding dino juice. Regardless, all-electric performance is still quite impressive. Here are five examples that prove it.
Continue reading to learn more about TopSpeed’s Top 5 All-Electric Performance Cars.
The P100 D will claw its way to a 2.3-second 0-to-60 mph time
Well, of course we’re gonna put a Tesla on this list. When the California automaker dropped the Model S back in 2012, the whole industry was shaken to its core. Here was an upstart automaker with very little to show on its resume offering what none of the major automakers could – a comfortable, stylish, surprisingly practical all-electric sedan that buyers just couldn’t wait to try out. Best of all, it was fast, and in the five or so years since it’s been on the market, the Model S has only gotten faster.
The quickest of the bunch these days is the venerated P100 D model, which applies its ample electron-juiced output at all four corners with simply Ludicrous results. Our friends over at Road & Track put one on a dyno, recording 588 horsepower and a staggering 920 pound-feet of torque at the wheels. Put all that to use, and the P100 D will claw its way to a 2.3-second 0-to-60 mph time (results may vary), which even rivals bleeding-edge rides like those listed in our Top 5 Hybrid Sports Car article. Keep your foot in it, and you’ll hit the quarter mile benchmark in about 10.5 seconds at 125 mph.
Read the full review here.
The story of the Audi R8 e-tron can be traced all the way back to 2009, where the Four Ring brand unveiled a concept of an all-electric iteration of the popular R8 two-door coupe. A year later, the car got attention for circling the Circuit de la Sarthe, leading to widespread excitement over the announcement Audi was ramping up for a production variant. Without warning, the R8 e-tron project was killed off two years later.
Luckily, a second generation broke cover in 2015 at the Geneva International Motor Show, once again prompting celebration and praise from the EV performance crowd. This time, Audi actually made it and sold it to customers, offering head-turning good looks and incredible performance specs. The exterior for the R8 e-tron bears the same general styling as its ICE-powered equivalent, albeit with a few extra details, such as new wheels, a restyled front end, additional vents in the hood, thinner tires, reshaped ground effects aero, and more carbon fiber. Inside, you get the same cabin layout as before.
Audi ditched the gas-powered 5.2-liter V-10 and AWD in favor of a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors
However, the biggest upgrade is obviously in the powertrain department, where Audi ditched the gas-powered 5.2-liter V-10 and AWD in favor of a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors. The motors send upwards of 456 horsepower and 679 pound-feet of torque to the rear axle, enabling a run to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, all while offering up a range of 280 miles between plug-ins. Price? Try a cool $1 million.
It’s a nice bit of kit, but unfortunately, Audi once again halted production in October of last year with just 100 units produced. Shame, but who knows – given its track record, it’s entirely possible we’ll see the R8 e-tron reappear in just a few years’ time.
Read the full review here.
Before the Audi R8 e-tron arrived on the scene, Mercedes beat Audi to the punch with its own electrified sports car variant – the SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive. Take away the polished, uber-shiny paint job, and the Electric Drive looks like any other SLS AMG Coupe, down to the iconic gullwing-style doors. However, “any other SLS AMG Coupe,” this thing is not. That’s because AMG ditched the old school 6.2-liter V-8 internal combustion engine in favor of lithium-ion battery pack and no less than four electric motors. As a result, output trumps the old model’s paltry 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque with a far more substantial 740 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. Properly applied, it’s enough to propel the two-door to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited at 155 mph.
Truth be told, that’s actually a bit slower than V-8 model, which hits the same benchmark in about 3.6 seconds, but even still, the Electric Drive Merc is still damn impressive. Inspired by the KERS hybrid tech from Formula 1, the Electric Drive is juiced by a 400-volt battery rated at 60 kWh. Each of the four electric motors spins to 13,000 rpm and weighs in at 45 kg (roughly 99 pounds), providing substantial grip with torque applied at each corner. And even though it’s rather heavy, the Electric Drive can handle as well, mounting the battery pack in a special carbon fiber monocoque that’s also used as the car’s “spine,” enhancing rigidity as a result, while also reducing overall weight. The monocoque bolts up with an aluminum space frame, and there are ceramic brakes to haul it down.
Output trumps the old model’s paltry 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque with a far more substantial 740 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.
But of course, any AMG worth its DTM styling should sound the part, and that’s something you miss without exploding gasoline. Mercedes anticipated as much and spent time honing the car’s sound. “Starting with a characteristic start-up sound, which rings out on pressing the ‘Power’ button on the AMG Drive Unit, the occupants can experience a tailor-made driving sound for each driving situation,” says Mercedes, adding that it offers a sound that’s “incredibly dynamic when accelerating, subdued when cruising and as equally characteristic during recuperation.” The sound is pumped into the cabin by way of 11-speaker sound system.
Regardless of your feelings on synthetic interior noise, the SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the business of going fast.
Read the full review here.
The sexy slab of supercar you see here is from a small automaker based out of Croatia called Rimac, and although it’s not exactly a household name, this boutique builder has been making some serious strides as of late. Their first production effort is dubbed the Concept_One, and it’s based on the same E-Runner Concept_One racer that blitzed its ICE-powered competition at the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Everything about this car was created in-house, which meant Rimac had a good deal of freedom to produce a unique, utterly bonkers four-wheeled monster.
Outside, the Concept_One looks badass, with a low and wide stance that’s very much in line with futuristic hypercar standards, but without going over the top in any one single way. Under the body panels is a chromoly space-frame, plus aluminum and carbon fiber construction to help shed a few pounds. More carbon fiber can be found inside, with a two-seater layout and elegant, flowing lines. Alcantara upholstery and aluminum trim bits are scattered here and there, while a large touchscreen in the central tunnel comes equipped with Rimac’s in-house entertainment system, feeding info and performance data to the driver as needed.
The spec sheet numbers simply beg belief – 1,072 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque is a good place to start.
It looks great, that’s for sure, but without a doubt, the most impressive part of the car is its powertrain. The spec sheet numbers simply beg belief – 1,072 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque is a good place to start. A high-performance AWD system helps to put the power to the ground, resulting in a 0-to-62 mph time of just 2.6 seconds. Keep your foot buried, and you’ll go 0-to-124 mph in 6.2 seconds, 0-to-186 mph in 14.2 seconds, and reach a top speed of 221 mph.
All that go is made by four electric motors, one per wheel, which are fed by an 82-kWh battery pack. Range is estimated at about 300 miles per charge. To help it achieve that incredible top speed, the Concept_One uses four separate gearboxes, with the front wheels getting a single-speed unit and the rears getting a two-speed unit.
Handling chops (as much as 1.4 g’s in the corners) come courtesy of an advanced torque vectoring system, which was refined at events like Pikes Peak, with multiple drive models to choose from. Hauling it down are enormous 15.6-inch brakes and six-piston calipers, plus the requisite brake energy regeneration system.
Production is limited to eight examples total, each of which costs a cool 850,000 euros ($947198 at current exchange rates, 06/19/2017). Oh, and if you own one, don’t let Richard Hammond drive it.
Read the full review here.
The last entry on our list comes from another relatively unknown automaker, this time hailing from China. It’s called the Nio EP9, produced by boutique builder NextEV, and like the Concept_One, this thing is all shades of ridiculous.
For starters, NextEV sourced inspiration for this street legal production car from FIA Le Mans Prototype regulations, crafting the carbon fiber body panels to offer ludicrous amounts of dowforce – as much as double that of a Formula One car while traveling at 149 mph, to be exact. Inside, a series of digitals screens provides the driver with info, while further carbon fiber was used for the chassis construction.
NextEV sourced inspiration for this street legal production car from FIA Le Mans Prototype regulations.
Making the Nio EP9 go is a total of 1,341 horsepower, generated by four separate electric motors (one per wheel) creating 335.25 horsepower a pop. The car also uses four individual gearboxes, one per wheel. The set-up also provides oodles of AWD grip, with as much as 3 g’s possible in the turns.
All the onboard tech makes it heavy, tipping the scales at 3,825 pound. However, all the grip and output means it’s still very fast, going 0-to-62mph in 2.7 seconds, 0-to-124 mph in 7.1 seconds, and capable of reaching a top speed of 195 mph. Active aero and suspension keep it glued to the black stuff, while a range of 265 miles per charge keeps it useable as a street machine. You can also replace the battery in just 8 minutes if the 45-minute recharge time is too slow.
Of course, the Nio EP9’s real claim to fame is a string of record-setting lap times, the biggest of which is 6 minutes, 45 seconds around the dreaded Nurburgring circuit, creating a new meaning for the term “Green Hell.” That time trounces the car’s old record by nearly 20 seconds, while also beating out such heavy hitters as the Nissan GT-R Nismo, Mercedes-AMG GT R, and Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR. Further records were set at the Circuit Paul Ricard (1 minute, 52.78 seconds), the Circuit of the Americas (2 minutes, 11.30 seconds), and Shanghai International Circuit (2 minutes, 1.11 seconds).
Pricing slots in at $1.2 million, with 16 total units slated for production.