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

    Porsche Taycan Turbo S 2020 review

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

    Porsche Taycan 2020 review

    Stuttgart’s groundbreaking 700bhp-plus pure-electric four-seat sports car is driven in pre-production form
Matt Prior
24 September 2019
Porsche Taycan Turbo S 2020

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 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 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 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 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.

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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.

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.

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 Cayenne to a 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.

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.

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 AMG 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.

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

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Comments
26

24 September 2019

This has to be just about the best looking car Porsche has ever made, and equipped with an astonishing powertrain.

It has a couple of things against it though - while that sort of performance might be a bit hilarious, is a family car that can get to 60 mph just a few tenths of a second behind a Formula 1 car something anybody needs on the public roads?  Secondly, that price is insane.  Spend a lot less and you can get various cars which can propel your family around at a crazy rate of knots, and still have money left over for a nice sports car, or several nice holidays, or just to fill it up with petrol many, many times.  (I’m thinking of an Alpina B5 Biturbo Touring and £40,000 left over!!).

I suppose what this car really is, is Porsche simply signalling to the world just what they can do.

Having said that, if I had the money, I would much rather have one of these than a Tesla.

24 September 2019

This has to be just about the best looking car Porsche has ever made, and equipped with an astonishing powertrain.

It has a couple of things against it though - while that sort of performance might be a bit hilarious, is a family car that can get to 60 mph just a few tenths of a second behind a Formula 1 car something anybody needs on the public roads?  Secondly, that price is insane.  Spend a lot less and you can get various cars which can propel your family around at a crazy rate of knots, and still have money left over for a nice sports car, or several nice holidays, or just to fill it up with petrol many, many times.  (I’m thinking of an Alpina B5 Biturbo Touring and £40,000 left over!!).

I suppose what this car really is, is Porsche simply signalling to the world just what they can do.

Having said that, if I had the money, I would much rather have one of these than a Tesla.

25 September 2019

The Tesla Model S is a 5/7 seat large family saloon, available from about £70k. It isn't in the same market segment as a 2+2 sports car. The only commonality is that they are both electric & competing with fossil cars, rather than with each other. The Taycan is lovely and will serve a good purpose if people buy this instead of an equivalent dino juice car. The new Tesla Roadster might give it a run for its money next year, to keep it interesting. Both so insanely fast that I can smell the new regulations being written already!

25 September 2019

Hmm, I'm up late – I even beat Peter Cavellini telling me it’s too expensive for a Car. But on this he’s right, well except for the Caps bit.

It’s certainly a fabulous-looking car and nails it as a real Porsche for me. All well and good, looks great and does the job as an EV tour de force. If I were in the market then I’d buy one over a Tesla in a heartbeat. But then I started to wonder; the Tesla Model S is old and will be likely seen by the trendsetters as fossilized now. But it’s 40% cheaper – I’ve always struggled to see whether a Tesla looks like it’s an expensive car or not. I ended up deciding it doesn’t — so I wouldn’t buy one anyway. The Porsche looks, well it looks like a futuristic Porsche and so we all know it’s going to me expensive. So far so good.

But…. Who exactly is buying a four-door ultra-sports saloon at £140k these days? I trotted around in an AMG S-Class for a while and then realized the joke was on me, it was pointless as a new car purchase – too expensive/too large to hustle and not really that much fun. This car is surely more fun than a dinosaur S8 or AMG, etc but I hope for Porsche’s sake it’s got a market and not a niche. I fear the Panamera is dead unless buyers genuinely strive for the greater space and comfort of this thing. Congrats to Porsche, they have built something fabulous, I adore it and the statement it makes — I hope and pray that it opens up a tiny segment with the later £90-100k versions that will do the volume. It’s a lovely thing and the world doesn’t always need another ESUV.

25 September 2019
Cersai Lannister wrote:

Hmm, I'm up late – I even beat Peter Cavellini telling me it’s too expensive for a Car. But on this he’s right, well except for the Caps bit.

It’s certainly a fabulous-looking car and nails it as a real Porsche for me. All well and good, looks great and does the job as an EV tour de force. If I were in the market then I’d buy one over a Tesla in a heartbeat. But then I started to wonder; the Tesla Model S is old and will be likely seen by the trendsetters as fossilized now. But it’s 40% cheaper – I’ve always struggled to see whether a Tesla looks like it’s an expensive car or not. I ended up deciding it doesn’t — so I wouldn’t buy one anyway. The Porsche looks, well it looks like a futuristic Porsche and so we all know it’s going to me expensive. So far so good.

But…. Who exactly is buying a four-door ultra-sports saloon at £140k these days? I trotted around in an AMG S-Class for a while and then realized the joke was on me, it was pointless as a new car purchase – too expensive/too large to hustle and not really that much fun. This car is surely more fun than a dinosaur S8 or AMG, etc but I hope for Porsche’s sake it’s got a market and not a niche. I fear the Panamera is dead unless buyers genuinely strive for the greater space and comfort of this thing. Congrats to Porsche, they have built something fabulous, I adore it and the statement it makes — I hope and pray that it opens up a tiny segment with the later £90-100k versions that will do the volume. It’s a lovely thing and the world doesn’t always need another ESUV.

Yawn, I'm up!, inverted snobbery, if you can't afford one, don't always diss it out of turn, yes, I've had to learn that one too!, any six figure sum is a lot to pay for daily transport or weekend thrills, but, please remember, not all wealthy people inherited there money, some worked really hard for it, and you get snobs in all walks of lift, not just the well off, money doesn't necessarily buy you the best Car either, you could have just as much driving fun in a 1litre as in a 5Litre, this Porsche could be the start of the revolt against Tesla, can't argue with the fact Tesla got EV transport moving (pardon the pun), so, there's my take on the Porsche....enjoy!

25 September 2019

Nearly £140k and probably a lot more when toys are added. Increased charging rate an extra but still have to wait in line behind the nissan leaf owner at the few charging stations on the motorway. At that price I would expect to find a range of dedicated superfast chargers reserved for my make of car only. I think I will wait for that to happen before I spend a lot of money on an EV. Oh wait I could do that 6 years ago couldn't I. 

25 September 2019

Nearly £140k and probably a lot more when toys are added. Increased charging rate an extra but still have to wait in line behind the nissan leaf owner at the few charging stations on the motorway. At that price I would expect to find a range of dedicated superfast chargers reserved for my make of car only. I think I will wait for that to happen before I spend a lot of money on an EV. Oh wait I could do that 6 years ago couldn't I. 

 

25 September 2019
Surely this is a 5.
OK, it's expensive, but they've produced one hell of a car. And what's more, they've managed to master one of the main EV bugbears - the transition between braking and regen is now imperceptible.

25 September 2019

Well it's a 'kin quick 4 dr Porsche at the technical edge of something new for the company so the price was always going to be top end. Sub £100k models will arrive.  As to IPace comparrasions, this is over twice the price yes it's faster but in the real world no great shakes, it's also heavier and maybe less efficient but as I've said before the charging rate will be a game changer, I'd give the Porsche 4 stars.

If nothing else it makes you realise just how advanced the Model S was 7 years ago, looking forward to a shootout.

25 September 2019

7 years ago you either would get an S40 or an S60, none of them with dual motors. And none of them capable of recharging their 40kWh or 60kWh batteries from 10% to 80% at a stable 150kW.But you would get failing door handles and failing induction motors, though. But anyway, nothing of that at the time available here in the UK, if lucky, maybe just in California!

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