THE REAL QUESTION: DOES IT LEAVE THE DRIVER AMPED?
IF YOU WERE taking bets on which manufacturer would not just dip a toe, but dive headfirst into the world of electric vehicles then you would have got long odds with Porsche. Yet here we are with the first Australian drive of the Porsche Taycan 4S.
It provides the first real competition to Tesla in the zero-emissions luxury performance market, claiming to offer rocketship acceleration, equally brisk charging times, a long range and a clear environmental conscience. The numbers suggest that even this ‘entry level’ Taycan achieves those aims, but can this silent, 2220kg four-door offer the sort of driving engagement Porsche is renowned for?
As mentioned, the 4S kicks off the Australian Taycan range, sitting below the more powerful Turbo and Turbo S, but ‘base model’ isn’t an appropriate adjective of a car that starts at
$190,400. Big money, but also $100K less than Porsche’s similarly sized, petrol-powered sedan, the Panamera 4S.
Still, that initial figure is easily enlarged, our test car wearing more than $40,000 of options to lift the price tag to $230,530 before on-roads. The most important of these and the biggest ticket item is the $11,590 Performance Battery Plus, which improves both range and performance, but we’ll return to that shortly.
None of the two solid or seven metallic paint colours attract an added charge, even the stunning
Frozen Blue pictured here. Externally, our test car wears Taycan Turbo rims ($1150), LED matrix headlights ($4610), a panoramic glass roof ($3370) and courtesy lights ($600). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but we think the Taycan looks fantastic, more sculpted and athletic than the Panamera with strong hints of 911, especially at the rear.
The general public appears to agree, the car prompting plenty of questions and comments. Even non-enthusiasts somehow appreciate the Taycan is different, a bit special, even when there isn’t an electrical cable protruding from it. The only slight question mark is the black vertical line that extends downwards from the outer edge of the headlights which makes it look like the Taycan’s mascara has run, but it’s a fairly inoffensive way of incorporating the necessary venting.
On the inside an extra $7450 scores you a very cool leather-free interior.
The seat inserts, door cards and centre console sides use a material that looks and feels like something you’d find on a sneaker while the seat outers, headrests and steering wheel are covered in ‘Race-Tex’, an Alcantara-like suede that’s claimed to produce 80 percent less CO2 in its production than regular materials. The seats themselves – heated and ventilated as standard – are comfortable and the driving position spot-on, with the pedals set up perfectly for left-foot braking if you wish to do so.
The floor covering is made from the recycled fibre Econyl, and while you’d swear the majority of surfaces are leather-wrapped, it’s actually a material called ‘slush’. Regardless of what it’s made of, it looks and feels great. In fact, overall quality is fantastic with virtually no hard plastics (limited to the B-pillars and kick panels) but there are a few ergonomic quirks. The B-pillar is angled which requires a small adjustment when entering and the ‘transmission’ selector is hidden behind the steering wheel rim on the left-hand side, though once found it’s easily operated: press down for Drive and up for Reverse.
Porsche has gone all-in on screens with the Taycan with generally positive results. The massive 16.8inch instrument display is widely configurable, able to show speed, power
usage, trip information, the navigation map in small or large sizes or next to nothing at all in its ‘reduced’ mode, while it also incorporates light controls on the left-hand side and chassis controls (damper stiffness, ride height and ESC setting) on the right.
In the centre is a 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, ‘Hey Porsche’ voice control, internet access, DAB radio, a 14-speaker, 710-watt Bose stereo and Porsche Connect, with the ability to sync your calendar, search for restaurants and control certain functions such as air-conditioning via a smartphone app.
Below this is a haptic touchscreen containing the HVAC controls, charging information and a touch pad that allows the selection of functions on the main touchscreen or navigation inputs via handwriting. This feels like a screen too far; the climate controls are fine but the touch pad is imprecise and unnecessary when the main screen is within easy reach. We would’ve been happy with physical buttons for the climate control and a relocation of the drive selector. Our test car also featured a $2150 passenger display, a clone of the main screen located on the left-hand side of the dash, and while it’s an impressive sight, it’s difficult to think of a practical use for it.
In the rear there is just enough space provided the front occupants aren’t too tall, but forget about Porsche’s $1000 ‘4+1’ seating option, the Taycan is built for a quartet only. Reach down for a pair of USB-C ports (to match another two in the centre console) but another $1720 is required for the rear passengers to control the temperature that comes out of the central vents.
Two other inclusions we’d like to see standard at this price point are softclose doors and a head-up display. Luggage space is a reasonable 366L in the rear, the lack of engine allowing for an additional 81L in the nose.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how the Taycan drives, it feels appropriate to return to the Performance Battery Plus (PBP) option, as it affects the car’s performance, range and charging capabilities. As standard the Taycan 4S uses a 79.2kWh battery (71.0kWh net) but ticking PBP increases this to 93.4kWh (83.7kWh net). This lifts outputs from 320kW/640Nm to 390kW/650Nm with 420kW available for launch-control standing starts.
Porsche claims this drops the 0-200km/h sprint from 13.3 to 12.9sec, though 0-100km/h remains 4.0sec dead. Claimed electrical consumption actually rises from 26.2kWh/100km to 27.0kWh/100km but thanks to the larger battery, claimed range increases from 365km to 414km. The stop-start nature of a photo shoot isn’t conducive to impressive – or even particularly relevant – efficiency
“The Performance Battery Plus option affects the car’s performance, range and charging capabilities”