Shocking acceleration, sweet handling considering its weight. Feel the quality
Pioneering tech doesn’t come cheap. More space in the back wouldn’t go amiss
What is it?
Let’s get a couple of things out the way first. Despite Porsche’s titanic engineering efforts in moving electric car tech forwards - and as I shall attempt to explain, it has - the Taycan is still an electric car. That means it still comes with limitations – namely range (280 miles for the Turbo if you drive like a learner), charging time (5 to 80 per cent in 22.5 minutes if you can find one of the comparatively few DC chargers in Europe capable of delivering 270KW) and weight (2.3 tonnes).
Stefan Weckbach, the man tasked with delivering the Taycan, predicts that when solid-state batteries come on stream in the next couple of years, you’ll be able to buy a Taycan with the same power output and range as this one, but 400kg lighter. For now, the Taycan is at the very pointy end of what’s possible.
How does it compare to a Tesla?
It’s also not as fast to 0-62mph, doesn’t go as far on a charge and costs more than a Tesla Model S Plaid. Thank you Teslerati for pointing that out once every 14 seconds since the Taycan was launched. But numbers aren’t everything. Weckbach insists that while he’s driven every EV on the market, the only benchmark that mattered was making it drive as much like a 911 as possible. Aim for the moon and all that. So, starting from a very blank piece of paper in mid-2014, this is what Porsche has come up with.
What's the situation with the battery?
Based on same ‘J1’ platform as the Audi e-tron GT, the Taycan comes in many flavours. First is the plain old Taycan, which is rear-wheel drive and has a 79kWh battery slung between the two axles. The Taycan 4S adds another e-motor on the front axle for all-wheel drive and gets a bit more power (but the same battery). Meanwhile the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S get yet more power and a chunky 93kWh battery. Said battery can be added to the normal Taycan or 4S for a little under £5k.
Atop the skateboard chassis, with Panamera-esque suspension and, optionally, four-wheel steering, is draped a four-door, four-seat body. Narrow of canopy and wide of hip, it’s designed to fill the white space beneath the larger Panamera and Panamera Sport Turismo.
It’s a handsome shape – more stretched 911 than shrunken Panamera. You can dress up to the point of invisibility with dark blue paint and silver wheels, or shout quite loudly with five-spokers framed by a body-coloured rim (inspired by Mission E concept), or 21-inch ‘fan’ wheels in carbon or body colour… or gold. But don’t take my word for it, proceed to the configurator forthwith and kiss goodbye to productivity for the day.
What's that 'Turbo' badge doing on an EV?
Since it first arrived on the 911 in 1974, Turbo has become a sub-brand, denoting the fastest models in every model-line. Porsche didn’t want its EV to get any special treatment. That’s also why it’s called Taycan – a typical Porsche-ish name – rather than Mission E.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Taycan can absolutely entertain on the right road and is a delight to cruise in - a GT with the heart of a sports car. More importantly, it’s a proper Porsche that just happens to run on electricity.
Truly, this is great news for anyone that loves fast cars. Electric cars are coming whether we like it or not and the performance, range, and handling balance is only going to improve from here. Porsche isn’t being shy about embracing electricity – the Taycan Cross Turismo estate and slightly sleeker Taycan Sport Turismo are superb additions to the line-up, while a fully electric Macan is due in 2023. All-electric replacements for the Boxster and Cayman, plus electric versions of Cayenne and Panamera, are also in the pipeline. In that order.
One note from us: Porsche, please do everything you can to keep the 911 petrol-powered. The rest can go electric, no problem, but just imagine still being able to buy a new petrol-fuelled 911 in 20 years time… it’s the beating heart of the brand (yes, even though more Taycans were shifted worldwide in 2021) and it’ll feel as unique and daring as the Taycan does now.
As for which Taycan you want – the regular rear-wheel drive car is probably the sweet spot of Taycan-dom. Yep, this is still TopGear.com, and we’re recommending the slowest version. Simply because it isn’t in any way ‘slow’, and because you now feel like you’re getting a real bargain – this interior knocks Tesla’s design and build quality into a cocked hat, and ridding the front wheels of having to transmit drive to the road results in world-class steering and a genuinely crisp, enjoyable balance.
Madness, how that’s been achieved in a 2.1-tonne barge. And yet, this is probably the most complete EV on the planet, if you like cars more than you fetishize numbers.