Since the hybrid powertrains have been dominating the supercar market recently, some people have been wondering whether there’s any hope for the combustion engine. Well, I can’t exactly say this video helps combustion’s cause, but it makes it apparent that the electric portion of the hybrid tech is likely doing a lot of the work.
The NIO EP9 stepped onto the scene somewhat silently. Though it’s been a player in Formula E since 2014 under the name of NextEV, it hasn’t really made a name for itself in the supercar market. Some of that motorsport experience may have played a part in their newest supercar cracking the current roadcar record at the Nordschleife—beating the barely-legal Radical SR8LM by over two seconds! Considering how the NIO EP9 weighs nearly three times as much as the Radical, which is more an open-top track tool than a usable road car, is staggering.
What the EP9 has going for it is four electric motors producing a total of 1,342 horsepower and a very broad powerband. Whereas the little Radical needs to spin its 2.4-liter V8 to make much power, the EP9 has all of its torque on demand from zip. That comes in handy when trying to boot it out of the Karussell (4:08), as does the four-wheel drive system.
However, the EP9 harnesses its torque in a more sophisticated way than most. With a gearbox at each corner, the torque-vectoring system can deploy that megawatt of power without as much as a hiccup. An active ride suspension only adds to this composure at both high and low speeds, as does a lot of downforce.
Having Peter Dumbreck behind the wheel only helps things along. The DTM and Super GT ace looks completely unfazed by the warp-speed acceleration of the EP9, and he also deals with the weight well. While it’s using slick tires to get around the Nordschleife, there’s no getting away from the mass of the machine. It’s incredible to think that, even with a carbon tub and carbon body panels, it’s as heavy as it is.
In the high-speed sections, the car seems to require a bit of respect, and won’t be hurled around carelessly. In fact, it shows a smidge of understeer, especially towards the end of the lap when the tires are likely roasted. His driving is sublimely smooth and clinical; taking the shortest possible route through corners and then getting on the loud pedal as soon as he can. Though, in this case, “loud” might be a bit of an exaggeration.
The question remains: will this be a viable form of supercar propulsion in the future? No question, the performance is immense. However, does this sort of package lend itself to lap-after-lap attacking? The weight and the heat of the motors must count against it in some way or another. Whatever the answer, it’s still remarkable to witness something moving that quickly while making nearly no sound whatsoever.