I am a car enthusiast. I also daily drive an EV. Truth be told, I love it. It’s fast, comfortable, cheap to run and, dare I say, fun to drive. I’ve also owned some of the hardest-core “enthusiast” cars that have ever been produced. Cars so loud and rough that you’d have to be more than a little nuts to enjoy them let alone love them. But love them I did. Take a stroll through any car enthusiast forum, social feed or car magazine opinion pieces, however, and you’ll quickly see there’s all too much hate for the electric vehicle future that’s coming regardless of what is being shouted into the void that is the internet.
But why? As mentioned, EVs can be fast, they can handle incredibly well, and they can even be good looking. You’ll read again and again that they lack “soul”, or that they’re like driving a video game, or are nothing but smartphones with wheels. Given the popularity of video games and smartphones I can hardly see how the latter two are much to deter most people, but we’re not talking about most people — we’re talking about car enthusiasts and they are a special breed. That said, I count myself among them and I like EVs, heck, I love ours.
No, what it really comes down to is that most enthusiasts aren’t the driving enthusiasts they claim to be but are rather car enthusiasts, or more accurately and more frequently, they are brand enthusiasts. Worse than that, they place too much value on two metrics: power output, and acceleration times. Both of these are critical to “bench racing” or car meet arguments, but acceleration is the one aspect of performance most easily accessed on the road and, frankly, the single biggest bragging point of supercars other than top speed. Or at least it was.
Both metrics, however, are often easily matched or event eclipsed by EVs which, frankly, have less than scintillating form factors thereby shattering these fanboys’ world view. If a Tesla Model S Plaid can outrun anything on the road it matters, to them. They’ll cry and moan that it doesn’t corner, or stop or make amazing sounds (which isn’t true as many EVs have rather scintillating sound — not flat-plane Ferrari V8s, but still…). Here’s the harsh reality. That throw-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration that has long been a defining characteristic of performance cars and performance car brands? EVs often just do it better.
And all this is especially galling to the non-supercar set. Consider, if you will, that the Mustang Mach-e GT electric SUV is faster to 100 km/h than the 760-hp god and thunder Mustang Shelby 500GT, and the BMW i4 M50 blows the doors off the legendary M4 Competition. Heck, a Genesis GV60 walks away from the holiest of holies — the Porsche 911 GT3 Touring — in the same test. All that is to say, if you’re in what was once considered a high-performance car like the aforementioned or so many more (WRX STi, Supra, Camaro, Challenger, etc), or one of the “formerly known as being fast in a straight line” gang, and you find yourself lined up with an EV grocery getter you’ll probably lose that race. To 100km/h at least, and all the while protesting things like handling, driving dynamics, feel and whatever other elements likely made irrelevant by being dusted by rolling smartphone.
The amazing bit is that we don’t even really have high-performance EVs on the market yet, despite the supercar-crushing performance of a variety of EV luxury sedans (Porsche Taycan, Lucid Air, Model S Plaid). Sure there’s the vapourware Rimac but it’s not really any faster than a Plaid. The legacy supercar brands are all working frantically on their EV offerings (VW Group basically gave Bugatti to Rimac to get in on their tech), but thankfully they are also bent on internal combustion going out on a high-note with ever more hard-core and high-powered gasoline engine vehicles before the inevitable EV switch. BMW M4 CSL being a prime example, as is the new Corvette Z06, Porsche’s insane Cayman GT4RS and of course the 911 GT3RS — cars that finally live up to the old “race cars for the road” claim.
When the ICE cars are gone, however, and the full force of these companies is applied to lighter, faster, nimbler, sexier and more exciting EVs (if you don’t already consider a 200mph EV sedan exciting), I expect that the results will truly be something that will obliterate any reservations that all but the most ardent of ICE enthusiasts have. Porsche’s Mission R concept gives a hint of what a performance EV can do in terms of not just outright speed and handling, but outrageous sounds and style. I mean just listen to it! If that doesn’t have “soul” then some people simply will never be swayed. The rest of us, however, are on the precipice of outright mind-bending levels of performance being available to the public, and I for one am entirely in favour of that.