Range-topping version of Porsche’s first all-electric car shows the rest of the world how it should be done

What is it?

I think this handsome thing is the world’s best electric car. I suppose it should be, because the new Porsche Taycan, in toppermost Porsche Taycan Turbo S form, costs £138,826 before options – and you’ll need to specify some of those, as we’ll come to.

First, though: this electric car/Turbo combo. There’s something not quite right there, wouldn’t you say? Although Supercharger and Autopilot don’t seem to mean what I thought, either. Look, we all know Turbo is a sub-brand, not a literal thing, says Porsche. It means souped up, which is why there are Turbo versions of vacuum cleaners or already turbocharged Porsche 911s.

Figuratively, Turbo means chuffing powerful. The Taycan Turbo S figuratively and literally is that. It has 751bhp, albeit on overboost, for a few seconds, during launches, when it can hit 60mph from rest in 2.6sec. Even the regular Porsche Taycan Turbo (merely £115,828) has 670bhp in the same mode. Both, strangely, make 617bhp when you’re not launching.

Cheaper, less powerful, non-Turbo Taycans will follow, but when early adopters with heavy wallets are waiting, why offer those now?

This expensive market entry, then, is Porsche’s first pure EV, but the company has form with electricity via its hybrids, plugged in or otherwise, in road cars and motorsport. The Le Mans-winning 919 has been running an 800V electrical system since 2011 and the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the kind of car we use on a drag race video when we want to give a Tesla Model S’s Ludicrous Mode a hard time.

The Taycan will be able to fill that brief without the Panamera’s internally combusted element. It’s a five-door hatchback, marginally smaller than a Panamera, built on a new platform, with a raft of lithium ion batteries beneath the floor. They total 93.4kWh, good enough for a WLTP range of up to 280 miles in the Turbo (which has an exceptional drag coefficient of 0.22) or 256 miles in the Turbo S (Cd 0.25).

There are two motors – one front, one aft – powering all four wheels. The rear motor has a two-speed transmission, although it drives around mostly in second gear, with the low ratio reserved for the sportier of its drive modes at lower speeds. The Turbo S gets active rear steer, carbon-ceramic brakes, a different inverter to allow the overboost and bigger wheels as standard, but generally the differences over the Turbo are limited.

All Taycans will come with a close-to 800V electrical system, twice the norm for EVs. Porsche says that by doubling the voltage, it can halve the current running through its cables (Ohm’s law, I think), allowing them to be thinner and their turning radii therefore smaller, so Porsche can thread them where it wants and save 40kg over a 400V system.

They can all charge from an 800V charger, if you can find one, at up to 270kW – taking it from 5% to 80% juice in a little over 20 minutes. There was talk, originally, of 350kW charge capacity, but Porsche says 350kW referred to partner Ionity’s charger outputs, not the car’s ability to take it: that was always meant to be 250kW-plus. Looking through Porsche’s newsroom back issues, this rings true, but there’s enough 350kW talk for it to have been inferred.

On more common 400V chargers, the Taycan will charge at just 50kW as standard, with 150kW capacity only as a £294 option. Porsche isn’t the only car maker to start offering better charge capacities as options and it’s not a great look. Optional ‘up to’ rates could become the auto industry’s equivalent of overstated broadband speeds. It’ll confuse and justifiably annoy people who haven’t yet forgotten the diesel scandal. Just fit what conscience says you really should, and be consistent about it.

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Anyway, we charged mid-journey in the Taycan and, while the range is less than Tesla’s Model S, in mixed and sometimes quick driving, the car does deliver what it says.

2 Porsche taycan turbo s 2020 fd hero side

What's it like?

The Taycan, then, feels like a true Porsche, they say. And even at first introduction, it does. The driving position is familiar and right; low slung and straight, with a small round furry wheel. There are four- or five-seat options, with great leg room and mediocre head room in the rear, and moderately sized boots front and rear. Build and materials feel terrific, and the infotainment system, instruments and drive options clear and driver focused.

Pedals are medium weighted, the steering likewise, and as in everything from a base Porsche Cayenne to a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, you get back the expected amount when you put in. Turn the wheel and it responds crisply, accurately. Push the throttle or the brakes and it goes and stops as much as it ought to. This is the kind of thing that marks out the best driver’s cars – and something you find in all Porsches but too few EVs.

Taycans, for now, roll on air springs (base models, later, might be on coils and even run just rear-wheel drive) and there’s a broad array of Porsche chassis and stability systems: they’ve chucked just as much at this as any other Porsche.

It shows. The Taycan rides, even on a Turbo S’s 21in wheels. There’s occasional ‘sproing’ around town but, to me, it feels the best-damped EV to date. At 2305kg, it’s heavy and, at times, there’s no disguising it, but because it’s not an SUV, the centre of gravity is very low, and if the Panamera has taught us anything, it’s that Porsche can do exceptional things with heavy cars on big wheels.

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Same here. Body control is terrifically tight, steering response is good, grip limits are all but unreachable on the road and it’s finely poised and balanced. It’s better to drive than a Panamera or Cayenne, or Model S or Jaguar I-Pace or Audi E-tron. I think the only times I’ve enjoyed an EV more are driving a Renault Twizy, the original Tesla Roadster, or a Nissan Leaf with plastic back tyres and that was all kinda different. This is serious, proper – quiet when cruising, engaging when not – everyday transport.

11a porsche taycan turbo s 2020 fd mp driving

Should I buy one?

The Taycan might just be more enjoyable to drive than any other current four-door Porsche. I didn’t expect to write that. I mean: there’s no engine. No, but throttle response is beautifully judged and smooth, the point where physical brake pads take over from 270kW electric regeneration is imperceptible, and it’s consistent to and from standstill. Dual-clutch gearboxes and hybrid and stop/start systems are too clunky to do that.

And while the Taycan sounds more like the Muppets’ Swedish chef than a V8, for a proper V8 woofle you have to look to a Mercedes-AMG anyway, which is one reason why the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé is preferable to a Panamera and why the AMG feels, to me, like the closest competitor to a Taycan: they’re both hugely desirable and engaging four-door coupés, are driver focused, handle deftly and just happen to have different ways of going about things.

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The best electric car in the world, then? Sure. But let’s not think that’s all there is to it.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S specification

Where Oslo, Norway Price £138,826 On sale January 2020 Engine Two electric motors Power 617bhp (751bhp on overboost) Torque 793lb ft (overboost) Gearbox Single-stage transmission (front), dual-speed (rear) Kerb weight 2305kg Top speed 161mph (governed) 0-62mph 2.6sec Range 265 miles CO2 0g/km Rivals Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé, Tesla Model S

3 Porsche taycan turbo s 2020 fd hero rear

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Boris9119 25 September 2019

"shows the rest of the world how it should be done"

So normal service at Porsche then?

Nickktod 25 September 2019

Future is looking good

Handsome thing and sounds like it’s really excellent , cost excepted. Slightly cheaper than a Panamera Turbo S though which implies the vanilla version should start around £70k. 

jl4069 25 September 2019

and yet they left out the Tesla's range

Besides building a good car itself- which is a mimimum requirement, the most important aspect of any electric car is its range. 

Did Autocar test the actual range of this car, no.

Did Autocar mention that the likely real range of the best of these Porsches is around 230 miles, which is very limited (and possibly unusable) for long disatnce driving, no.

Did Autocar even bother to mention that upspec Tesla S's get 90 more miles of range, no.

Is this report biased, imho yes.

Peter Cavellini 25 September 2019

Tesla time!

J14069@, you actually own a Tesla?, if you do, you'll know it's good and bad points, you don't know what the Porsche will do, if it's been tested on the new emissions test I'd believe the figure,where this car scores is handling, I've read two articles on the car and both say it's really good for a 2.3 ton car, Tesla as yet have got a sport car on sale, so, to an extent they're not compatible.....