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First drive: Porsche Taycan. Image by Porsche GB.

First drive: Porsche Taycan
Porsche, somewhat predictably, shows everyone else how you do a high-end EV properly with the outrageously good Taycan.

 



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Porsche Taycan Turbo

5 5 5 5 5

You're looking at the greatest electric vehicle (EV) on the planet right now. Sure, the Porsche Taycan isn't cheap and there's an even more demented version than this 680hp Turbo, but whatever spec you go for this is a car which can do many, many things to an exceptionally high standard. It is not only terrific today, it is also terrifically encouraging for the future of driving.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche Taycan Turbo
Pricing: Taycan range from 83,367, Turbo from 115,858, car as tested 131,603
Electric system: twin permanent magnet synchronous electric motors plus 93.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: front single-speed reduction-gear transmission, rear two-speed reduction-gear transmission, PTM all-wheel drive
Body style: four-door EV saloon
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED Band 0: no road tax to pay in perpetuity)
Range: 281 miles
Maximum charging capacity: 270kW; 22.5 minutes for 80 per cent battery charge
Combined electrical consumption: 23.6kWh/62.5 miles
Top speed: 161mph
0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
Power: 625hp regular, 680hp on 'overboost' Launch Control
Torque: 850Nm
Boot space: 81 litres front, 366 litres rear

What's this?

Porsche's brave new world, although Aldous Huxley's oft-referenced literary masterpiece is a dystopian novel based on genetic engineering, population control and subversive totalitarianism, which is not what we were going for with this intro when making the comparison. Ahem. Anyway, moving swiftly along, this is the German sports car company making a huge leap towards a future that would, on the face of it, seem totally at odds with the marque's storied past. Think Porsche, think immense motorsport prowess, think noisy, loud and fast road cars, think fossil-fuel burning invigoration and excitement. And not even diesel, at that - following a brief dalliance with the black pump for the Macan, Cayenne and Panamera model lines, Porsche's 2018 decision to move away from Rudolf's choice of propulsion means these three are derv-drinking oddities in the manufacturer's back catalogue, likely to be one day displayed as curios at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen alongside that lovely red Porsche-Diesel Super tractor from the 1950s that they've already got.

So, this petrol-powered, pulse-racing, pedigree company is all about driving thrills. Thus, where does it fit into a future where petrol looks like it will one day be outlawed, in favour of electric vehicles (EVs) and environmental concerns above all else? Well, Porsche's answer is to simply come up with the EV to end all current (forgive the pun) EVs. This is the Taycan, tested here in the middle spec of three available at the time of writing. Slightly smaller and, weirdly enough, less expensive than its Panamera sibling, this zero-emissions Turbo nevertheless packs some ridiculous stats: two electric motors, two gearboxes (one single-speeder at the front and a two-speed reduction set-up at the back), a goliath 93.4kWh battery pack, peak outputs of 680hp and 850Nm, 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, 0-100mph in 6.9 seconds, 0-124mph in 10.6 seconds, 50-75mph in 1.9 seconds... and VED requirements that, were it not for the 'rich tax' in years two to six of ownership, would be less than those of your average supermini.

It is, on the face of it, a preposterously talented car in terms of its technical make-up and, moving onto other aspects of the Taycan, it also looks superb. There's a distinctiveness about the styling that makes it stand out from the rest of the marque's range, despite the fact that if you pried the shield off its prow and blanked out the tailgate lettering, anyone living on the planet could probably tell you it's a Porsche. Yet the square-shaped headlights, the high-set rear, the smoothed-off flanks and the lack of a radiator grille give it enough identity that you'd never mistake a Taycan for a Panamera at a range of 50 feet or more. Or vice versa, for that matter.

This 'same but different' ethos continues within, where the Taycan has a mainly digital array of screens and switchgear to play with. The cowl-less Curved Display 16.8-inch instrument cluster draws your eye first, for a number of reasons, but of course the Taycan also has its clever air vents and digital control pad (sited beneath the glorious 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management centre screen), while physical buttons are reduced to merely the ones on the steering wheel, the column stalks (if they count) and the button to the right of the fascia to power the Porsche up or switch it off. Again, it's familiar graphical representation and layout throughout if you're used to modern-day Porsche cabins, and yet it looks markedly advanced compared to the rest of the German company's passenger compartments. Better still, it feels intrinsically beautifully built, it is lovely to the touch and it's spacious - rear-seat passengers up to about six-foot tall will be very comfortable in the back, despite the Taycan's sloping roofline. So the long and short of all this is that, on kerb and showroom appeal, this EV is nigh-on faultless. Time to see if it can drive in a manner that matches up to the building pre-event expectation.

How does it drive?

The first thing to get out of the way here is that the Taycan Turbo is heavy. It clocks in at 2,305kg, which is basically SUV territory these days, not sports saloon. That's a direct corollary of having such a large battery pack and two electric motors stuffed into its form, but this is Porsche when all's said and done, and it is a company that knows how to engineer heavy cars to handle well - you only have to look at the likes of the Macan Turbo and Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid for evidence of such skills. Furthermore, Porsche has pulled the trick of all EVs and mounted the heaviest item (the battery pack) in the floor of the Taycan, to keep its centre-of-gravity down low.

Then there's the Taycan Turbo's formidable tech armoury. Yes, if you go for the lunatic 761hp-peak Turbo S, you get some of the optional extras on the Turbo as standard equipment, but you pay 140,000 for the privilege and we reckon an optioned-up Turbo (as driven here, at 131,603) is going to be just as edifying to live with and own. Mainly because, unless you're faffing around in Launch Control mode, showing off the shocking brutality of the Taycan's acceleration to your mates, then the Turbo and the Turbo S deliver exactly the same 625hp in regular driving. Therefore, enjoy the Turbo's Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) on the rear axle, integrated Porsche 4D Chassis Control, Adaptive Air Suspension including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and the Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) set-up with 415mm front and 365mm rear discs, which all come from the factory, and then add the same choice items which were bolted onto our test car - such as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) for 2,315, Rear-Axle Steering including Power Steering Plus for 1,650, the 788 Sport Chrono package, 387 20-inch Sport Aero Wheels (the Turbo gets 20s as standard anyway, while the Turbo S runs on 21s)... oh, and Porsche Electronic Sport Sound (PESS) for 354. Remember that last one; it does nothing for handling, but everything for the drive.

Without any further forestalling, then, it's time to drive it. And in terms of its town manners, its simplicity of placement on the roads, its ride-comfort levels as the speeds increase and the grace with which it lopes along a motorway, the Taycan Turbo is startling. Phenomenal. OK, we're beyond the early days of the EV age now, so there's no reason to still be surprised by the lack of noise and vibration that a car with no engine can display when you can pretty much revel in the same experience from a Nissan Leaf. But even so, the Taycan is extraordinarily eerie, especially when you're tooling along the M4 at 70mph and you think you've gone deaf and insensate, such is the lack of feedback you're getting from the car. We cite the lack of feedback, in a sports saloon, in this scenario, as a positive; you want this sort of glassy ride quality and crypt-quiet cabin on a luxury limo, the latter of these two characteristics enhanced by 1,301 thermally and noise-insulated glass on the test Turbo.

Let's make no bones about it, for the vast majority of daily driving duties you will enact in any car, never mind this EV Porsche, the Taycan is beyond reproach. It is flawless in terms of the weighting of its controls and its ease-of-use, and it's a fabulous thing to be in, feeling as prestige and effortless as a Porsche four-door should be. Throw in the fact that we took the Taycan Turbo on a lengthy mixed-roads test loop, involving some, er, spirited driving, and it was still showing 133 miles until its battery was fully depleted at the end of it all, and its range claims of approaching 300 miles on a steady run seem eminently believable.

Considering this is Porsche's first EV effort since the Lohner prototypes from the end of the 19th century, the Taycan is so astonishingly talented enough at all this mundane stuff that you'd think it could drive like a duffer in the bends and yet still come up with a favourable overall rating. But this is no dynamic duffer. This is a Porsche. A 625hp Porsche. A supersaloon Porsche. And it's magnificent. Yes, there are times - and they are only odd occasions, mind - when you are standing on the Porsche's left-hand pedal and wondering if Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are possibly an essential option, but these are incredibly few and far between, and only really present themselves if you're deliberately, provocatively trying to find a weakness in the Taycan's kinematic armour.

Otherwise, your gast will be flabbered by the way a 2.3-tonne four-door can execute high-speed flick-flack direction changes as if it were a 1.4-tonne coupe. Your gob will be smacked by the manner in which the Turbo dives in at the apex, with immediate responses from its oh-so-delightful steering and fantastic PTM/PTV Plus underpinnings. The power of speech will be forcefully rent from you by the fact the adaptive air suspension, so cosseting and plush on the motorway, has suddenly taken an iron grip on the Porsche's shell, leading to preternaturally flat cornering abilities. The Rear-Axle Steering gives the Turbo an agility and mid-corner pivot sensation like no car of this mass we've been in before. This doesn't feel like an overly powerful EV that is relying on a load of electronic trickery to make itself adept in the corners; rather, it feels like a bona fide sports machine from the very highest echelons, that just so happens to have an electric powertrain. The Taycan isn't just smash-the-opposition-to-pieces-good as EVs go; it's astounding among the supersaloon fraternity, no matter what form of motive power they're relying on.

Oh, and speed? Masses of the stuff. It's embarrassing, really. It does that weird thing under full roll-on acceleration (still at 625hp, remember, not 680hp) of giving you the impression that an invisible hand is reaching into the base of your skull and twisting your pituitary gland around and around, such is the force of its forward momentum, while PESS is the most hope-inspiring thing we've sampled in an EV yet, certainly if you're a driving enthusiast first and foremost. In Sport Plus mode, the Taycan makes a rich, deep-timbred buzz that is not in the least bit tuned to sound like any combustion-engined car you've ever heard. Indeed, technically it's not a synthesised sound at all, but rather the whirring of the Taycan Turbo's twin electric motors amplified to a significant degree. And it's marvellous - it is a new symphony to process in the automotive world, the sound of a high-quality sports EV going through its motions. This last feature alone is what seals the deal for us, signing off on everything the Porsche has done so brilliantly so far; it's the crowning centrepiece of what is undoubtedly, by far and away, the finest electric car on the planet right now.

Verdict

Looking back on it, Porsche faced an unenviable, monumental challenge when it was developing the Taycan. It had to preserve every last iota of its traditional sporting DNA in a vehicle which needed to be as luxurious to travel in as a Bentley Flying Spur, all mixed in with the sort of running costs normally associated with cars priced at a fifth of the money of the Taycan Turbo. Remarkably, and even accepting that its past engineering record might have given us a hint of what the Stuttgart firm is truly capable of, Porsche has not only succeeded in this Sisyphean task, it has punted the metaphorical EV boulder right off the top of mountain and into the heavens. This Taycan Turbo is absolutely blinding, whether you're merely ranking it among the contemporary electric car crop or widening your parameters to include every car on sale right now.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 29 Jun 2020









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2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo UK drive. Image by Porsche GB.








 

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