The electric car is an old concept, briefly coexisting with the early days of the gas-powered automobile. The world went by way of the gas-powered car because the political and economic viability was substantially in favor of the burgeoning fossil-fuel industry. Because of socio-economic factors, the electric car industry as of 2020 is a future 100 years behind where it should be. Sustainability concerns and the environmental impact caused by industrial and mass consumption of fossil fuels has moved the electric car to the forefront. Somewhat ironically, it’s out with the old and in with the old. You may well be of the opinion that current-gen electric car technology (being 100 years behind in terms of comparable development) is a future that requires a lot of patience? The latter seemed true maybe 10 years ago. But the pace of development in the last 5 years has been so swift as to become immeasurable. The Porsche Taycan, a fully electric halo ultra-car, is a vision of the future for today as imagined 20 years from now.
Porsche spent 5 years developing the Taycan, the design language is heavily influenced by the Mission E concept. In person the Taycan clearly carries over the design DNA of the 992, resembling a four-door 911. It’s got that classic low-wide, short-nose stance of a 911. Overall the minimal exterior design is elegant, contemporary, and quietly assertive. The interior is equally minimal. And the interior build quality is faultless as is the choice of materials, a mix of soft-touch surfaces, leather and Alcantara. Easily the best built Porsche interior I have experienced thus far. Although I immediately noticed the door handles, compared to the quality of the entire cabin, they just felt a bit too plasticky for my personal preferences.
The Taycan is bedecked with fully digital instrumentation, from the 16.8-inch curved driver’s binnacle to the 10.8-inch central infotainment touchscreen and a vertically mounted 8.4-inch touchscreen positioned below which incorporates ancillary functions such as the heating system. The 8-4-inch touchscreen also incorporates a touch-enabled trackpad that significantly improves the usability of the upper infotainment system. The digital trackpad is always within easy reach and is the most intuitive and easiest way to interact with the infotainment system.
Ideally, I would prefer a metallic trackpad because it’s much easier and gripper to the touch over a glass surface. Nevertheless, the infotainment system is simple and intuitive to use, with an excellent high-quality display and pixel-sharp graphics. The digital driver’s binnacle features a graphical recreation of the famous 3-ring analog dials and is configurable with five different graphical views.
As for interior space, upfront at least it was fine more than enough space for my 180cm frame. The driving position is perfect. Excellent visibility ahead, although the rear view is limited due to the design styling. But it doesn’t matter because the Taycan is fully loaded with all sorts of parking sensors and virtual camera systems so reversing, parking in tight spaces, or threading through narrow gaps in the traffic isn’t a problem.
This is the most powerful car I have ever driven and it just so happens to be fully electric. The Taycan Turbo S model range comprises of 3, the entry-level Taycan 4S, Taycan Turbo, and the Taycan Turbo S. Pricing starts from £83k, £115k, and £138k respectively. So then… at my disposal is the top of the range Porsche Taycan Turbo S, (real turbos not included) and it’s the most powerful at 761PS (758bhp) and over 1080Nm of torque. Asking price? £138,836. Fully loaded with options bumps the actual price up to £151,2100.
The Taycan’s structure is made from a mix of steel and Aluminum, except for the front and rear bumpers. No exotic carbon-fiber-composites. To save weight aircraft-grade bonding techniques are used, which is basically gluing the car together. Aircraft-grade adhesives and bonding techniques are super-strong if not stronger than welding. Despite adopting these advanced weight-saving measures the Taycan has a problem, it weighs over 2.2 tonnes, more than a Macan. In the sports car world philosophy, 2 tonnes is heresy.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I only had a few hours to learn and understand the Taycan. My route, from Reading HQ to Northampton and back again. A round trip of 170 miles. The Taycan Turbo S has a total range of 236 miles fully charged, but it depends on how it is driven. And the range is also determined by temperature, the colder is it the less range. As with any gas-powered car the harder you drive the more fuel is burned. And the same is true with the Taycan’s electric battery pack. The Taycan supports 225kW fast-charging. For home charging Porsche offers an optional wall-mounted charging dock which is significantly quicker than charging via a standard wall socket. I had no issues with range anxiety because the electric charging infrastructure is improving day by day, check out this Porsche EV charging map. Besides my route took me past Porsche Experience Silverstone and a Porsche Retail Center a few miles further away.
For decades Porsche has been synonymous with the air-cooled engine and flat-six turbo engines. But the Taycan follows a new set of rules. Propulsion is provided by a permanent-magnet synchronous motor mounted on each axle. A single-speed gearbox sends power to the front wheels, a planetary 2-speed gearbox sends power to the rear and a limited-slip differential… every sports car should always have one. The planetary gearbox has a short 1-st gear for acceleration and a long-ratio second gear for maximum top speed. Planetary gearboxes are often used in heavy-duty machinery to channel large amounts of torque. And the Taycan has plenty of torque that needs channeling.
Many Porsche purists will be at odds with the very essence of the Taycan’s electric engineering DNA . The Taycan is not powered by a piston-engine but a 93kWh lithium-ion battery pack which also contributes to the structural integrity of the entire chassis. But at the end of the day, electric car or not, the driving experience matters most.
What struck me at first was not the lack of engine roar on start-up but the reassuring feeling that you are actually driving a Porsche. From behind the wheel, the front wings extend and arch out in front of your line of sight, just like a 911. It immediately felt really well-engineered, absolutely no squeaks or rattles, a step up in terms of quality from a 911. I was expecting the ride to be overly firm (most electric cars are) including PHEVs. However at low speed, the ride quality was supple, imperfect road surfaces with bumps and minor pothole damage did not trouble the Taycan at all. The adaptive air suspension including Porsche Active Suspension Management significantly enhanced the low-speed ride quality to almost Rolls Royce levels. And the Turbo S was riding on 21-inch low-profile alloy wheels.
Time to hit the motorway, time to see just how powerful this Taycan really is. And when it was safe to do so I floored the throttle. Immediately the Taycan surged into action, from sedate to instant and explosive speed, a level that I have never before experienced. Imagine the elemental forces of a hurricane combined with thunderstorms and lightning, the Taycan under full acceleration is more powerful. The torque is warp speed-instantaneous, or like a rocket ship, which is an oxymoron I know. That being said, under full acceleration, the Taycan is more Starship Enterprise than Falcon Heavy.
And I absolutely roasted the Porsche Taycan from Reading to Northampton and it never showed any signs of fatigue. The Taycan is equipped with five self-explanatory drive modes. Range, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. The lowest mode, as indicated, will offer more range whereas the highest mode is basically unrestricted access to wildfires-hurricanes-tsunamis. The digital readout gives you the estimated range depending on which mode you select. There wasn’t too much difference in range between 1 and 5 so I set the Taycan to full-on wildfires-hurricanes-tsunamis mode and didn’t look back. And I didn’t have any issues with range during my journey.
The Taycan’s acceleration and ability to accumulate speed quickly and silently is always enthralling but after a while, you do get accustomed to it all. The most impressive aspect of the Porsche Taycan isn’t the Starship Enterprise level electric powertrain, it is the old fashion stuff. The chassis, suspension, damper settings, ride, weight distribution and handling. With the Taycan everything is mastered to perfection. The chassis feels absolutely rock solid, no lateral flexing under load whatsoever. And that alone gives the Taycan a significant dynamic advantage. The ride and handling is peerless, the adaptive damping system is so well attuned to the chassis that the Taycan is limo-like comfortable under low speeds and ultra-focused under load when cornering hard and at speed.
The Taycan’s low-center of gravity is so well balanced that it enables you to carry a lot of speed into a corner and the damping system and anti-roll bars will prevent any gravity-assisted lean in either direction. The rear-wheel steering system allows for monumental cornering ability. And the tyres absolutely glued the Taycan to the road. Combined with a decent feeling steering system the Taycan gives you a tremendous amount of confidence, and that’s the necessary signature of life reserved only for the very finest sports cars.
But not everything is perfect, the carbon-ceramic brakes didn’t have as much initial purchase as I would like. And the regenerative braking system isn’t as well defined as it is in say the Tesla Model S. All in all minor issues, and I am certainly not complaining.
Electric cars are, by definition a linear experience, often characterless with the wrong approach. What Porsche has done with Taycan is make it feel like a Porsche.