The Porsche Taycan has made its worldwide premiere, finally allowing us to see it in its final form and understand its finer technological details and specifications.
It's fair to say that Taycan is a watershed car for the Porsche brand. Forget the fact that it’s been in gestation since first breaking cover as the Mission e at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show: “This marks the start of a new era” according to Porsche boss, Oliver Blume. “The Taycan links our heritage to our future.”
We shouldn't underestimate the importance of the Taycan. Quite aside from the fact that it's a massively bold statement from Porsche and will quite possibly become its biggest selling model, it is bringing with it a new level of EV technology, sustainability and digitalisation that will ultimately percolate into more mainstream electric cars. Of course, Tesla has proven itself a tour-de-force at producing fast, advanced four door EVs, but Porsche has a 70 year legacy so it stands to reason that the Taycan will be on a different plain.
For now we can only bring you the technical details, but rest assured we'll be driving one and offering our on-the-road impressions just as soon as we can!
Porsche has released the Taycan in two specification levels: Turbo and Turbo S. Of course, much debate has erupted around this on social media, but realistically Porsche had to avoid 'S' (because of Tesla) and clearly wanted to retain familiar nomenclature.
Naming convention aside, both cars are powered by two permanently excited continuous electric motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear, making the Taycan four-wheel drive. Packaged into electric drive modules, they deliver the highest power density (kW per litre of space) of any such powertrain on the market. An interesting Porsche innovation is the two-speed gearbox on the rear axle, which maximises both acceleration and cruising efficiency.
Baseline power for both cars is 616bhp but the difference comes on overboost, on which the Turbo has 670bhp enabling it to complete the 0-62mph dash in 3.2 seconds. The Turbo S offers up over 750bhp and 774lb-ft of torque on overboost and hits 62mph in 2.8 seconds, dipping under 10 seconds to 124mph. Energy usage of the Turbo is 26kWh/100km which gives it a WLTP range of 280 miles. Inevitably the Turbo S's energy use is slightly higher at 26.9kWh/100km meaning it can do 256 miles on the WLTP cycle. Both cars top out at 162mph.
Something that's been a talking point in advance of the official Taycan launch has been the repeatability of doing full-bore launches without overloading or overheating the drivetrain – something that rivals can't do without fear of blowing a fuse (so to speak). The fact that Porsche has set the lap record for four-door, all-electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, completing its run of the circuit in seven minutes 42 seconds, probably tells you all you need to know about the Taycan's durability at speed.
Porsche has a lot of experience in making heavy cars shed their weight to become real sports cars to drive, and at C.2.2 tonnes the Taycan is in heavy car territory. A centrally networked, active chassis on air suspension keeps the mass in check with a host of Porsche's traditional active management systems, including PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) and PDCC Sport (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) and PTV Plus (Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus). Four driving modes are available: Range, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus, however owners can configure their own in an Individual setting.
The Porsche Taycan is the first production EV to run at 800 volts instead of the more usual 400 volts. This has significant advantages when it comes to charging the 93.4kWh lithium-ion 'Performance Battery Plus'. Due to that higher voltage, the Taycan can take on 62 miles of range in just five minutes when using high-power DC charging at up to 270kW. From five per cent to 80 per cent takes as little as 22.5 minutes. Up to 11kW of AC input for home charging can be accepted.
On the road, the Taycan's regenerative braking is among the most efficient on the market at up to 265kW. With 90 per cent of everyday braking not requiring the disc brakes, this significantly aids overall range.
We've seen the Taycan in public for some time now, but in lightly camouflaged form. With the stickers removed the Taycan strikes a pose that is pure Porsche – almost like a futuristic Panamera in shape. At the front, the nose slopes down sharply, elevating the front wings and giving the car a flat and wide posture.
The side profile is clean, only interrupted by vents behind the front wheels and charging ports subtly incorporate on each side. At the rear, the roofline blends into the back of the car which has pronounced shoulders and – thanks to the wrap-around rear lighting – a fat, squat stance.
An advantage of not having a bulky ICE motor and transmission is that aerodynamics can be significantly improved – something very important for maximising range. Taycan's shape and flat underbody gives it a frankly minuscule drag coefficient value of 0.22.
Porsche has completely overhauled the architecture of the Taycan's cockpit. A driver-orientated, freestanding curved instrument cluster forms the highest point of the dashboard. There is a central 10.9 inch infotainment display and also an optional passenger display which, where installed, are combined to form an almost full wrap-around digital dashboard impression.
Whereas Porsche has staunchly remained comparatively button-heavy with its controls, in the Taycan this has been greatly reduced. Touch operation and voice control (activated by saying “Hey Porsche”) will be used for controlling the majority of functions. As you'd expect, the car comes with an array of connectivity and wireless technology, as well as a BOSE stereo, although interestingly Porsche's analysis of its customer base suggests that they're Apple-philes, so only Apple CarPlay is integrated.
Carrying over its environmentally sound theme to the inside of the car, Porsche is offering the Taycan with an entirely leather-free interior which has been labelled 'vegan-friendly'. Despite its low roofline, Porsche has made space for taller passenger thanks to what it calls “foot garages” - recesses in the floor to maintain headroom. Under the bonnet there's 81 litres of luggage room, and the rear hatch offers up 366 litres.
Porsche has received a huge amount of interest in the Taycan with 30,000 reservations already made. And order books will continue to fill up in advance of the car's on-the-road launch in 2020. The Turbo will start at £115,858 and the Turbo S at £138,826 before options. If you want options, less powerful, cheaper models will be available in due course, and later next year the standard Taycan will be joined by the Taycan Cross Turismo.