Designers of the first wave of electric cars over the past 10 years have been gradually recovering ground in their battle to fit the batteries, motors and other hardware needed by an EV into what space is available in a typical modern car, without making those cars bigger or less practical than their combustion-engined counterparts. Some still haven’t managed it.
But the first clue that the Taycan is different comes in its measurements. This is a four-door sports coupé that’s shorter at the kerb and lower of roofline than its nearest equivalent in the Porsche line-up: the Panamera.
Intelligent battery design is what has enabled that. Skateboard-style drive batteries in electric cars have tended to simply displace cabin volumes upwards, but the Taycan’s 93.4kWh lithium ion battery pack, which leaves what Porsche calls ‘foot garage’ spaces that effectively lower both rows of seating, allows passengers and electrons to begin to share the ‘ground floor’ of the vehicle in a way that no comparable big EV has managed before.
The Taycan’s innovativeness as an electric car doesn’t end there. It is the first 800V electric passenger vehicle in production, a fact that, among other things, allows it to move around the current to drive its twin electric motors without needing such thick, heavy cabling as it otherwise would. The car’s electric architecture also allows it to rapid charge from the mains at up to 270kW as standard, at which rate you can restore the battery from empty to full in around half an hour. It also permits the car to harvest and store energy more quickly when slowing down than a 987-generation Cayman R of 2011 could burn through it under maximum acceleration at 7000rpm.
The car is driven by two permanently excited AC synchronous motors, one per axle, which have ‘hairpin’ stator wiring for particularly high energy density. The front one drives the axle directly through an open diff and the rear one drives through a two-speed automatic gearbox and a torque vectoring e-diff. They make as much as 751bhp for the Taycan Turbo S, and 774lb ft of torque – although only quite that much in short bursts during launch control starts.
Suspension is via height-adjustable three-chamber air spheres, is governed via adaptive dampers and is abetted by both active anti-roll bars and (in the Turbo S’s case as standard) active four-wheel steering.