With EVs like the Tesla Model S and Lucid Air offering more than 1,000 horsepower in practical, sedan shells, the humble hypercar of yore is starting to look a bit tame. Porsche’s last hypercar, 2013’s 918 Spyder, offered 875 horsepower.
Amazing at the time, less so today.
While these types of machines are about so much more than power, offering delicious engagement and an experience that no sedan could ever hope to match, it’s clearly time for the hypercar bar to be raised. That’s exactly what Porsche is proposing to do with its next hypercar, the Mission X concept.
This thing could have upwards of double the horsepower of the 918, along with amazing looks that mix the old and the futuristic, plus an interior with seats that are 3D printed to perfection. It’s a wild machine that’s poised to re-write the record books.
A decade after the 918 Spyder captured the production car record at the epic, 13-mile-long Nurburgring Nordschleife, and on the eve of its 75th Anniversary, Porsche unveiled the Mission X as a vision of its next hypercar, a car designed to absolutely smash that original record and destroy every other car that has bested it since.
Visually, the Mission X is a mashup and throwback to Porsche’s classic endurance racers. But, from a technology standpoint, this all-electric machine is a clear nod to the future.
Let’s start with the name. Porsche first rolled out the Mission nomenclature for 2015’s Mission E, unveiled at that year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The Mission E was a long, low, lovely electric concept that charmed the masses with the delights of a future of electric performance cars. Mission E would find its way to production four years later as the Porsche Taycan, still one of the world’s fairest EVs in the land.
Porsche’s next Mission was 2021’s Mission R, this time a vision for a future of all-electric racing. Porsche’s customer racing programs are legendary. If you turn up to the track to watch virtually any form of endurance racing anywhere in the world you’ll probably see a 911 being hustled around by someone. At some point, even days like these will go electric, and the Mission R was designed to show what an all-electric car designed for just that purpose might look like.
That brings us to Porsche’s third Mission. Mission X’s reason for living is clear: bring the Nurburgring Nordschleife production lap record back to Porsche and do it with style — plus a little luxury, too.
Visually, the Mission X has very little in common with any road-going Porsche that the company has ever produced. Odd? A little, but that’s actually kind of the point: This is a car that references racecars, not road cars.
Take the doors, for example. They open upwards and out, just like those on the iconic 917, which earned Porsche its first Le Mans victory in 1970. The low hood and headlight orientation is a clear nod to the earlier 906 endurance racer, while the so-called “exoskeleton” roof actually references the Mission R concept mentioned above.
On the luxury side, appointments are admittedly few, but the attention to detail is obvious. The individual pads that make up driver and passenger seats are customizable to a degree we’ve never seen before, precision crafted in 3D to perfectly match the shapes of the privileged bodies that occupy them.
And then there’s the so-called “timer unit,” a module that clips onto the passenger dashboard providing an old-school analog chronometer for lap timing of the vintage sort. Rich folks love themselves a luxury watch, and that’s basically what Porsche is putting front and center in front of the passenger.
Finally, Porsche does include some practical perks in the Mission X, like a storage compartment between the seats with slots for wireless smartphone charging. If nothing else, the latch on that compartment will keep those phones from flying around the cabin during more aggressive driving.
TWICE THE POWER?
When it comes to technology to actually allow that kind of driving, that’s where Porsche is being a little less transparent. That the Mission X will be fully electric is for sure, and all-wheel-drive seems like a given, but whether that will come from two motors, front and rear, or four motors, one per corner, remains to be seen.
We also don’t know how much power those motors will deliver, except that Porsche has promised a power-to-weight ratio of one horsepower per 2.2 pounds. Without knowing the weight that makes this impossible to calculate, but if we assume a similar mass to Porsche’s last hypercar, the 918 Spyder, we could be looking at as much as 1,600 horsepower. That’s about twice what the 918 offered.
That’s likely optimistic, though. With a presumably sizable battery pack, there’s a good chance the Mission X will weigh considerably more. But then again, it does have a full carbon fiber body to keep weight down.
Porsche hasn’t said how many kilowatt-hours of electricity that battery pack will hold, though most modern EVs have somewhere between 75 and 100 kilowatt-hours. Porsche did say, however, that this pack will use a new, 900-volt architecture, meaning it can charge faster even than the Taycan Turbo S, which can juice its 93.4 kWh battery pack from 10 to 80 percent in 20 minutes.
A fast-charging pack on a car like this is important, as a significant part of its design is readiness for action on the race track. Traditional hypercars can pull into the pits between sessions and fill up the gas tank. An ideal electric hypercar will be able to do the same.
That battery pack will be positioned in what Porsche calls an “e-core layout,” eschewing the current trend of spreading an EV’s batteries across the floor of the car and instead packaging it all in an upright module behind the seats, not unlike the original Tesla Roadster. This not only concentrates the weight of the batteries and passengers into the center of the car, but allows the whole thing to sink closer to the ground, creating that lusciously low profile that everyone loves to see in a hypercar.
How low? That we don’t know, but Porsche did say it’s approximately 177 inches long, or five inches shorter than the 918 Spyder. That makes for relatively svelte dimensions, but despite that Porsche is promising more downforce than its new 911 GT3 RS, which is covered in aggressive aerodynamic bits and pieces. The lack of massive aerodynamic appendages on the Mission X make that promise seem unlikely, but the giant diffuser sticking out from under the rear bumper is there for a reason. That’ll be paired with active aerodynamics of the sort usually only seen on Formula One cars.
F1 PERFORMANCE AND PRICES
It will take performance like a Formula One car for Porsche to take back the production car record. That record currently stands at 6:35, held by the Mercedes-AMG One, a car that takes more than a little inspiration from the Formula One World Championship-winning car driven by Lewis Hamilton. In fact, the AMG One basically takes that car’s entire engine, not to mention lots of other goodies, creating an outrageously fast and suitably exotic hypercar.
An outrageously valuable one, too. The Mercedes-AMG One carried a price tag of $2.7 million to start, and all 275 of them are long-since sold. How much will Porsche’s Mission X cost? The 918 Spyder cost $845,000 new. Just adjusting for inflation, that car today would cost over $1 million. In reality, they’re worth about twice that at auction. With the significant tech and performance advances here, it’s safe to assume the Mission X would carry an even loftier premium.
That is, if Porsche actually decides to build it. Remember, Mission X is a designation for a concept car. When I asked Porsche CEO Oliver Blume about whether Porsche will put it into production, he told me: “During the next month, we will consider to build it. It isn’t decided yet.”
So, the good news is that Blume’s decision will come soon. The bad news is that, even if Mission X gets a thumbs up, it could be years before it hits the streets. It was four years between the Mission E concept and the Taycan production car, after all.
Mission X in 2027? Wake me up when it’s my turn to drive.