Porsche’s electric taycan has sporty feel and ride
Having just driven 400 kilometres in a 750-horsepower sports car, I felt surprisingly refreshed. No ringing ears. No sore kidneys. No rattled teeth. Welcome to the new era of the supercar road trip. To celebrate/show off its first all-electric vehicle, the 2020 Taycan, Porsche invited the world’s motoring press to Scandinavia last week to begin an 18-day, 6,440km odyssey that would cover nine countries between Oslo, Norway, and Stuttgart, Germany. I had the privilege of being among the first group of journalists on the first leg between Oslo and Gothenburg, which included a lunch stop at an Ionity charging station in Stromstad, Sweden, 20 kilometres south of the border between the two countries. The first two models in the all-wheel drive Taycan fleet are the Turbo and Turbo S, with less powerful variants expected sometime next year and a Cross Turismo by the end of next year. My tester was the Turbo S. The drive route was a good mix of urban roads, twisty country lanes and major highways, each of which demonstrated different attributes of the Taycan (pronounced “Tie-con”).
Sitting in the driver’s seat and before pressing the power button located on the dash to the left of the steering column (as with the key ignition on Porsches since the beginning), it was immediately apparent that as much design work and engineering had gone into the cabin ergonomics and esthetics as had gone into the muchhyped electric powertrain system. The well-bolstered seating position and the way the meaty sport steering wheel met my eager hands felt almost identical to a contemporary 911 cockpit. This, along with the equally 911-ish silhouette of the Taycan, softened my internal criticism of Taycan press material I’d read before the drive that kept referring to the sedan as a “sports car.” Strapped into the driver’s seat, you’d be hard-pressed to think you’re in a four-door. And unlike a 911’s rear seats that don’t accommodate anyone over fivefeet tall (and even then if they are a contortionist), the Taycan’s rear seats fit a six-footer in comfort and sporty style. Likewise, the sedan’s trunk is a very good size (366 litres), and there’s even room for a couple of backpacks under the hood up front (81 litres). All Taycan comparisons to Porsche sports cars’ cockpits begin and end with the seating position, however, as the entire dash/ gauge/switchgear layout of the sedan is new, and according to Porsche, intended to bring its products “into the digital age.” With no analog gauges (save a dashboard-mounted clock), a central 10.9-inch infotainment display, an optional passenger 10.9-inch infotainment display and a floating centre console screen controlling things like climate functions, the Taycan’s dash feels very digital age indeed. Yet not overwhelming, which is often the case with multi-screened displays. Likewise, steering-wheel controls are kept to a minimum, limited to just audio/ phone controls, a drive mode dial and a regeneration button.
READY FOR LAUNCH
With a push of that aforementioned start button, the Taycan Turbo S comes to life (not with a roar but a whisper). Putting the car in gear is achieved by flipping a unique toggle switch located on the dash to the right of the steering column; down for drive, up for reverse. The initial driving impressions in Oslo weren’t that much different from your garden-variety EV navigating city streets in morning rush hour. The acceleration was crisp, the cabin quiet and the ride silky smooth. However, when city streets gave way to country roads and with it opportunities to push the sport sedan into and through tight corners and up and over rolling tarmac, the Taycan revealed its unmistakably Porsche personality. Again, I was reminded of the “sports car” description, and again I understood and agreed with referring to the Taycan Turbo S as that. After an hour or so of running hills and dales through pristine Norway countryside and along waterways, we met up with a highway that would take us to the Norway-sweden border, then onto the lunch stop. My co-driver was now at the wheel as we silently spirited along the motorway at 137 km/h, wind noise at a minimum and the experience not unlike that of sitting on a very comfortable high-speed train.
With a Euro-spec full-charge range of over 400 kilometres, we could have easily made the Oslo-to-gothenburg drive without stopping had we kept to major roadways, but where’s the fun in that? At our lunch stop we plugged into an Ionity charging station in Stromstad. With 47 per cent left on our battery, it took just 18 minutes using the DC charger to fill us up to 80 per cent. Charging rates of up to 258kw were being recorded. In other words, quicker than the time it took us to have a quick lunch and restroom break. Just as the morning drive portion demonstrated the exceptional performance and handling of Porsche’s first all-electric vehicle, the lunch stop underscored the realworld potential of a high-speed charging network. Those attributes were not lost on my colleagues, with most of the lunch talk revolving around the unabashed “Porsche-ness” of the Taycans.
Pulling out of the charging station and back onto the highway, we settled into the 90-minute blast to Gothenburg, a journey unlike the morning’s but just as revealing in terms of demonstrating the Taycan’s strengths. In this case, that it’s as much a grand tourer as it is a sports car. Of course, the Taycan Turbo S has a sticker price of $213,900 (before tax), so one would, and should, expect an exceptional vehicle and one worthy of the Porsche badge. Is it a better, more desirable luxury sport EV than the top-ofthe-line Tesla Model S? It is. No question. After all, it’s a Porsche.
The Taycan Turbo S might be a sedan by definition, but by all other accounts is an unabashed and unapologetic sports car.
In addition to sharing a seating position very similar to the 911, the Taycan’s driver-oriented cockpit embodies the finest traditions of Porsche.