Four years since Porsche laid bare their all-electric intentions with the Mission E at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the German performance marque conducted a simultaneous reveal held across four continents for the all-new Taycan.
If you’ve been following the drip feed of teasers and previews that have been expertly administered by Porsche’s PR squad, and especially if you’ve read up on the said Mission E, there isn’t all too much to be struck by as surprising or new. To their credit, the Taycan has emerged as a production car uncommonly faithful to its concept car roots.
As a direction, the merits, laments, and sheer potential that a fully electric high performance vehicle presents to an automaker such as Porsche - and, by association, Volkswagen - are both nuanced and seemingly obvious.
Much less self-evident are the chosen variant names that the new model has been revealed with. Perhaps to be consistent with their other four-door non-SUV, the Panamera, the Taycan comes in two high-end flavours called the Turbo and Turbo S despite lacking an engine and, naturally, turbochargers, and should start around $300,000.
Lower tier grades with lesser performance and a reduced entry price are indeed coming down the pipe to fill gaps in the range, and the company does seem committed to introducing a crossover-like version based on the Mission E Cross Turismo concept by the end of 2020. However, let’s detail the Taycan as we have them today.
Both variants share very similar specifications despite being separated by the almighty letter ’S’. The Taycan Turbo kicks off the range so far, adopting a dual electric motor all-wheel drive setup that sandwiches an array of densely packaged lithium ion cells capable of storing 93.4kWh.
All of this sits on a newly developed J1 platform and 800-volt architecture designed specifically for battery-electric vehicle applications, one that will be shared by other EV production cars from the likes of Audi perhaps even Bentley before long.
During normal operation, both the Turbo and Turbo S have access to 460kW, but engaging Launch Control frees up the non-S powertrain to use an overboost facility that unlocks 500kW and 850Nm, enabling a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.2 seconds.
The Turbo S’ overboost is more aggressive and unleashes up to 560kW and a staggering 1,050Nm of torque, shaving that acceleration time to 2.8 seconds and is able to climb to 200km/h in 9.8 seconds. Both share the same electronically limited 260km/h top speed, though predictably the Turbo edges out the S in terms of estimated maximum range with 450km versus 412km according to the WLTP cycle. Neither are quite a match for the equivalent Tesla Model S Performance (580km) or the Jaguar I-Pace (470km) in terms of per-charge endurance.
Unlike most EVs, the Taycan actually uses a two-speed transmission instead of a single reduction gear, though this only applies to the more powerful rear-mounted electric motor. The first gear is tuned to deliver maximum acceleration while the second is a longer ratio that ensures greater efficiency at higher speeds, improving range and charge longevity.
Once its power reserves are depleted, the car’s unique 800-volt architecture allows its batteries to be charged at a considerably faster rate than most EVs today. Of course, this is assuming the car be plugged into infrastructure capable of matching its 270kW rate.
Porsche and the VW Group as a whole have been working to set up compatible high speed charging stations in standalone locations as well as dealerships in North America and Europe which would allow a near-flat battery to reach 80 percent in just under 25 minutes. Hooked up to an 11kW AC wall box, a typical charge would take roughly 9 hours. Meanwhile, a 50kW public change point should knock that down to about more manageable 90 minutes.
The company has been adamant that the move to an all-electric powertrain would not compromise the Taycan’s driving experience or diminish its Porsche DNA, though the lack of the accustomed aural and vibrational feedback from internal combustion does weaken it somewhat. For that, the Taycan does offer Porsche Electric Sports Sound, an optional module that feeds in synthesised noises into the cabin - queue the eye rolls.
With its low centre of gravity, three-chamber air suspension, Panamera-derived four-wheel steering, Active Suspension Management and Dynamic Chassis Control, Porsche is throwing every technology and attached acronym at the car to preserve the brand’s handling characteristics. Although the jury is still out, all signs point to the Taycan being an outstanding drive.
Speaking of the interior, the Taycan’s occupant experience doesn’t stray far from the established norms of other Porsches in terms of ergonomics and spread of premium materials. As previously detailed, the dashboard is festooned with screens, the most striking of which is a curved 16.8-inch digital instrument cluster. In the centre, a 10.9-inch unit performs more familiar infotainment duties, supplemented by a smaller portrait screen below it that handles HVAC and other vehicle configurables.
Lastly, one could also option a dedicated panel to keep the front passenger occupied with access to specific media and navigation controls. Thankfully the driver can override these secondary instructions at any time.
A full home turf debut is on the cards for the Taycan at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, ending a four year journey that Porsche began at the same venue in 2015. It’s a strong first effort that everyone at Zuffenhausen should be proud of, and rightly send shudders down the likes of Tesla, especially since its sister car, the Audi e-tron GT, is also coming in hot.