Wednesday 14th April 2021
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First drive: Porsche Taycan. Image by Porsche GB.

First drive: Porsche Taycan
No model signifier necessary: this is the new ‘base-spec’ Porsche Taycan, the one with rear-wheel drive, the lowest price tag and the most range.

 



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Porsche Taycan PBP

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

After Porsche unleashed the sublime Taycan Turbo and Turbo S electric vehicles (EVs) on the world, it soon followed up that ballistic pair with the longer-range 4S. So here comes the fourth model in the line-up: the plain old Taycan. This is the first variant in Stuttgart's mind-blowing EV family to have only one motor, one gearbox and one driven axle, and it's also the first that's capable - if you spec it right - of going beyond 300 miles on a charge. Therefore, is this the Taycan to have above all others?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche Taycan Performance Battery Plus
Pricing: Taycan range from £70,690, Performance Battery Plus from £74,739, car as tested £108,472
Electric system: single permanent magnet synchronous electric motor plus 93.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: two-speed reduction-gear transmission, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door EV saloon
CO2 emissions: 0g/km (VED Band 0: £0 in perpetuity)
Range: 301 miles
Maximum charging capacity: 270kW - 22.5 minutes for 5-80 per cent battery charge or 4m 45s for additional 62 miles of range; on 50kW DC charger, 62 miles of range in 26 minutes; for 0-100 per cent of battery on 11kW AC connection (public or domestic wallbox), nine hours; two charging ports, nearside CCS Combo 2 and offside Type 2
Combined electrical consumption: 20.4-24.8kWh/62.5 miles
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Power: 380hp nominal, 476hp on 'overboost' Launch Control
Torque: 357Nm
Boot space: 494 litres (87 litres front, 407 litres rear)

What's this?

Look past the eye-catching Frozen Berry metallic paintwork (£774) and you might spot that this new Porsche Taycan 'no-name-to-come-afterwards' looks a lot like the 4S that went before it. Well, actually, it looks a lot like a far more expensive Taycan model, such as the £115,860 Turbo, because someone in Germany went tick-box crazy when building this particular car for press demonstration purposes. We'll come back to this point very shortly, but for now we'll try and outline how you'd go about spotting a base-model Taycan if its owner manages to resist the charms of Porsche's Tolstoy-esque and wallet-battering options list.

In essence, the Taycan has black lower-body detailing, like the 4S, and unlike the Turbo and Turbo S, which have body-coloured portions around the front splitter area, the door sills and the rear diffuser, as well as on the undersides of the door mirrors. Beyond this, the chief way to differentiate the new Taycan from the 4S is that its 19-inch Taycan Aero alloys are five-spoke items finished in silver alone; on the 4S, the same wheels get a bicolour render and are therefore known as 'Taycan S Aero' rims. Behind these, the Taycan has black brake callipers whereas the 4S has red items... and if you want to continue this game of PorscheSpotting (not an Irvine Welsh novel), the Turbo has white callipers as it has Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) as standard and the Turbo S wears the bright yellow shoes of the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), the most desirable colour for aficionados of the marque when they're ogling Stuttgart's stopping equipment.

Inside, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the Taycan is the entry point to Porsche EV ownership. While it only has part-leather trim, and eight-way electrically adjustable and heated Comfort seats in the front, it otherwise has all the fancy digital instrumentation - 16.8-inch Curved Display behind the wheel, 10.9-inch PCM monitor in the centre of the dash for infotainment and another touchscreen down on the transmission tunnel for the climate controls - and glitzy 'ventless' air-circulation system as any other variant in the range. Space front and rear remains the same as in other Taycans, albeit the new model is a four-seater like all the rest (you can have a '4+1' seating arrangement for £336), and it has slightly more boot space than the Turbo and Turbo S derivatives, due to the fact it has a different arrangement of motors/gearboxes/inverters and so on.

Ah. This is where we should really outline the key USP of the epithet-free Taycan. Think of it as a Taycan 4S with its front-mounted electric motor and attendant single-speed reduction-gear transmission taken away, and you're about bang on the money. This means the latest Taycan has just one electric motor, mounted at the back and powering the rear wheels alone through a two-speed reduction-gear set-up. As with the 4S, there are two battery options available here: the standard car, and the least expensive way into Taycan ownership as of right now, is the Performance Battery (PB), which has a single-deck arrangement of 79.2kWh and a starting price of £70,690; add another £4,049 to that pile o' cash and you get the Performance Battery Plus (PBP), from £74,739, which has the double-deck, 93.4kWh unit you'd find in a Turbo or Turbo S.

It's not just battery size that is affected by the step up to PBP from the PB model, though, but power, torque and charging speeds. Stick with the 79.2kWh unit and you enjoy 326hp and 345Nm, the first output rising to a time-limited 408hp during the 'overboost' phase employed by the Porsche's software during Launch Control episodes. You can also recharge the battery pack at a maximum rate of 225kW DC, through the CCS Combo 2 port on the passenger-side front wing (like all Taycans, there's also a Type 2 socket on the driver's front wing too). Uprate your RWD Taycan to a PBP and the base power goes up to 380hp with 357Nm, the overboost is increased to 476hp and the charging rate matches the best yet seen in the Porsche line-up at 270kW.

On paper, this increased electrical muscle doesn't seem to do a lot for performance, as the PBP records the same 5.4-second 0-62mph time and 143mph top speed as the PB. However, that's because the PBP is lugging about another 80kg compared to the PB, the latter car being the lightest Taycan yet at 2,050kg. Nevertheless, if you're on an airfield somewhere with the two of them head-to-head, the PBP will start to make its extra grunt known for 0-100mph (11 seconds dead versus 11.5 for the PB), 0-124mph (16.5 seconds versus 17.6 seconds) and the quarter-mile sprint (13.5 seconds versus 13.7 seconds). It'll also be more responsive in the midrange, due to its marginally boosted torque, although we must say figures of 345- and 357Nm are hardly groundbreaking for the rear-driven Taycan twins.

Speed is one thing, but less range anxiety on the part of the owner is quite another. This is another area where the PBP has its PB sibling licked, and - by extension - it's also the long-distance champion of all of the Taycan breed. Fully charged and with only one electric motor to glug away at the reserves of the 93.4kWh battery pack, you can expect the PBP to go a maximum of 301 miles on a single juice-up of its power source. The PB, by comparison, will do about 268 miles, which is middling (at best) in the realm of the other, four-wheel-drive Taycans, all of which can achieve between 252 and 282 miles on a single charge.

So, anyway, the new Taycan is lighter, cheaper and more, er, rear-wheel-drive-y than any other model, and it has more stamina too, if outright EV range is your thing. Therefore, if it drives well and delivers on its long-distance promise, it could eventually stand out as being the best zero-emissions Porsche purchase of the lot. Time to find out if that's the case.

How does it drive?

Just before we get onto the dynamics, we said we'd mention the options fitted to this German-registered test car. It will become pertinent why we're doing this in a moment, trust us. Anyway, whomsoever had specified S-GO 387E had clearly had a wild 30 minutes with das Deutsche configurator. The whole point of the Taycan is that it's more affordable than the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S alternatives, but that point is somewhat lost when fully £37,782 of cost options are loaded onto it, turning what was a 75-grand car into one which rocks in at £108,472; almost as much as a basic Turbo will set you back.

Some of this stuff was purely cosmetic, like having the model designation on the doors in black for £147 or slapping a full panoramic roof above the passenger compartment for £1,137. However, if kept standard, there are several mechanical and chassis differences between the rear-wheel-drive Taycan and its all-wheel-drive brethren. Such as it should come on steel springs with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Porsche 4D Chassis Control (PDCC) from the factory, as well as the smaller 19-inch wheels, no torque-vectoring and the same 360x36mm front, 358x28mm rear brake discs as the 4S, gripped by six-piston front and four-piston rear callipers.

And we'd have liked to have sampled those differences, to see if the Taycan still felt as thoroughly exceptional in base spec as it does higher up the range ziggurat. However, adaptive air suspension (£1,527), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus, £1,052), 410x40mm front and 365x28mm rear PCSB discs (£2,105), Power Steering Plus (£203), 20-inch Sport Aero alloys (£1,776) and the Porsche Electric Sport Sound (PESS, £354) all rather negated the kinematic gap between this single-motor model and the others. So, for now, we cannot tell you what the most, um, primitively specified Taycan might feel like on the roads.

As to a fully-laden Taycan PBP, it preserves much of the wonder of the more potent variants. It hums into life as soon as you get in with the key about your person, the crisp and attractive screens powering up swiftly to reinforce the cutting-edge technological air of the whole car. Roll it out through urban and semi-urban areas, and the ride quality and suppression of exterior noises is utterly exceptional, and then pick up the pace further as you merge onto a motorway and the Taycan provides a sumptuous, cosseting experience that'll make a decent Panamera hybrid feel a bit raucous and rough around the edges in comparison. Furthermore, stand on the accelerator while you're doing 50mph and you won't for a minute think the RWD Taycan PBP is lacking in any way; like any powerful EV, it picks up astonishingly swiftly in such instances.

Then you get it onto more challenging roads and switch it up into Sport or Sport Plus, and it disguises its mass as well as any other Taycan, if not better because it clocks in at 2,130kg. It seems happier performing rapid direction changes, the steering is as sweet and as feelsome as ever, and there is just a trace sensation that this is rear-wheel drive, rather than sending power to all corners. We're not about to say the Taycan RWD is kind of like a zero-emissions GT3, or even a GTS for that matter, but there's definitely a hint of squirm from the back when you get on the power out of tighter corners, while it also felt like it was moving about more under braking too. Both of these facets involve you in the driving experience and make the Taycan RWD thoroughly enjoyable to hustle, even if it doesn't have the gobsmacking potency of the Turbo models.

So then we come on to range. To be fair to the Taycan PBP, we tested it on a freezing cold day with plenty of snow on the ground in the wake of Storm Christoph. With the ambient temperature hovering in minus figures for much of the drive, something which doesn't help with outright battery range in the first place (lithium-ion packs don't like the cold), of course you then start switching on things in the cabin which will drain an EV's resources yet further in such conditions - items like heated seats and the climate control, which we set to 23 degrees C and then left there for the duration. We also drove it along the M4, across the hills from Newbury to Wantage in a, er, spirited fashion, through a load of country A-roads past Banbury and towards Warwick, then turned north and eastwards to pick up the M40 all the way back down to High Wycombe. A final jaunt through the towns of Marlow and Henley-on-Thames took us back to Reading, and throughout all of this there was lots of stop-start stuff, plenty of periods of acceleration and robust braking, and then some reasonable cruising in Range mode (and, because this Taycan had air suspension, that means it can lower itself by 22mm in such a setting to be more aerodynamically efficient) on the motorways.

Remember how cold it was outside and then assess these bare facts as you will: we got into the car at around 9am with the battery showing 99 per cent capacity and the trip computer's range reading 211 miles, some 90 miles down on the theoretical maximum. Over the course of slightly more than four hours of driving, we covered 165.8 miles in the Taycan PBP at 41mph, during which time it used 42.4kWh/100 miles - that's around 26.5kWh/62.5 miles, not far off the claimed combined electrical consumption maximum of 24.8kWh. At the end of the trip, it was showing its battery temperature at a cool-ish 27 degrees C, with 17 per cent of its capacity left and a range of 39 miles showing on the screen. Tot those two distance numbers together and you get almost 205 miles in the biting, snowy cold. That, we think, is pretty decent for a number of reasons: one, in warmer temperatures, we'd probably have got at least 250 miles out of the Taycan PBP on exactly the same non-economical driving route and with the same, um, unsympathetic driving style; two, the marque's experts tell us that lithium-ion battery packs take a little while to bed in and 'learn' energy usage, so - a bit like a turbodiesel engine frees up with more mileage - once this particular pink Porsche, which was very new, has done some more miles then it should also give back more single-charge range; and three, the Porsche's trip computer was pretty accurate with its assessments of remaining driving distance available throughout the route, so you know you can trust it to tell you precisely when it's going to give up the ghost - and therefore, you can get to a charger post-haste. Whereupon, in only five minutes on a 270kW DC connection, you'll have another 62 miles of range to play with, and even on a lesser 50kW hook-up it'll add the same amount of mileage in just 26 minutes. Enough time to grab yourself a Costa* and a comfort break at a services, then.

* = other brands of coffee are available.

Verdict

With the obvious caveat that this particular Porsche Taycan PBP had been suitably enhanced with a lengthy list of cost options, it is nevertheless a deeply impressive showing from the rear-wheel-drive EV. It feels perfectly punchy and rapid enough, its lighter weight means it balances out its reduced traction with increased agility, and it looks as good on the outside and as superb on the inside as it ever has done. Steer clear of fitting it with every extra under the sun and, if you can keep the list price beneath six figures, the long-range Taycan RWD makes a compelling case for itself as the Porsche EV model of choice. It might not be quite as desirable or thrilling outright as a Taycan Turbo, but it's every bit as useable for daily needs, if not more so.

5 5 5 5 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

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 2 Feb 2021









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2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.

2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.2021 Porsche Taycan PBP UK. Image by Porsche GB.








 

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