Convention. Forget it. We’re in an automotive paradigm that’s shifting, driven by our environment, our leaders, and, as a result the companies that provide mobility to us. Changing times, signalled early by Tesla, the rest of the automobile industry having played catch-up since to the Californian upstart. Porsche’s people aren’t denying this, they admit the history books will forever read the it was Tesla that really brought electric drivetrains to the public’s consciousness, albeit it at a level that’s might not be available to everyone.
Porsche’s Taycan is here now, though, the German firm quietly unapologetic in not being able to match its rival’s more outrageous numbers, instead focussing on the integrity and repeatability of its performance. The Taycan, promises Porsche, will keep doing 0-100km runs until it breaks its driver, then, this a future car built to old-school rules.
It’s damned pretty, too. As close as any recent car has come to recreating its concept car, the Taycan has all Porsche’s recognised styling cues, from the 911’s hunches and tapering rear, to the four-point lights and the slightly pronounced front wings that house them. This might be a Porsche for the future, but it’s unashamed about its past. The interior is similarly reminiscent of its predecessors visually and structurally, albeit depicted with all the haptic feedback touchscreen reality of that defines today’s car interiors.
Every engineer we’ve talked to about prior to, and during the launch of Porsche’s new technology flagship has referred to the 911 when discussing the Taycan, this new world car always referred to as a ‘proper’ Porsche. That rings true when you sit in it, the driving position is near identical to the 911, the view out similar, though unlike the firm’s sports car icon there’s no combustion, no flat-six, and despite the nomenclature of these introductory models (Turbo and Turbo S) nothing that’s even close to an actual Turbo.
What the Taycan does have is a battery pack, slung low under the floor for the lowest centre of gravity of any Porsche model, powering a pair of electric motors, the rear motor additionally being fitted with a two-speed transmission, which seamlessly switches automatically to the benefit of acceleration or economy.
The battery is rated at 93.4kWh and in the two Taycans Porsche has announced so far, the Turbo and Turbo S, that equates to a power output of 625hp. That’s the base, with overboost power for launch control rated at 680hp in the Turbo, with the Turbo S having 761hp, maximum torque (in launch control mode) is 850Nm for the Turbo, with the Turbo S quoted at 1,050Nm. That allows the Turbo to reach 61mph in 3.2 seconds, the Turbo S managing 2.8 seconds, with 124mph from standstill reached in the Turbo in 10.6 seconds and 9.8 seconds. Wild acceleration, in the gasp, then laugh category, made even more ridiculous by the lack of sound when doing so. There’s the optional sound generator if you want to, but keep it off and the only way you’ll experience such rapid, quiet acceleration is if you happen to be in a lift with a cable that’s snapped.
What’s remarkable is that despite a complete shift in powertrain specification is that the Taycan Turbo S is resolute in being, and genuinely feeling like a Porsche.
The weight and consistent feel and accuracy of the steering, the agility, aided by the speed of the electronic control of the chassis systems from the air suspension, rear-wheel steering (standard here on the Turbo S) to the limited slip differential, PSM stability control, traction control and torque vectoring, all of which combine digitally to create a dynamism that’s entirely at odds with the Taycan Turbo S’s not insubstantial mass. It monsters a country road with crushing impunity, it the driver who will run out of determination before the Turbo S runs out of ability. Its clever electronics will work out the potential range, the regenerative system taking care of much of the slowing process, though it’s regrettable that in its most sporting drive choices (from Range, through Normal, Sport, Sport + and configurable Individual) there’s no possibility for heavy regenerative stopping power akin to engine braking on a conventional car when lifting off the accelerator.
It’s a car of contradictions, a green car that’s mind-bendingly quick and capable, yet refined and able, its bandwidth wide, mixed with a build quality that’s very much in the legacy manufacturer sphere. A game changer, its 800V system allowing the sort of charging speeds that have until now been unique to the Tesla Supercharger network, the only limitation being that it needs 150kW charging and above to really fill its batteries quickly.
But then, with the ability to cover ground so rapidly, and ably you’ll have enough time for the odd charging stop, indeed, you’ll need a break to comprehend what you’ve just being doing.
The world is changing, and if the Taycan Turbo S is a signal of the direction it’s going in, we can all be very excited about an electrifying future indeed.