BRIEFING

The elec­tric per­for­mance car mar­ket has so far been dom­i­nated by just one mar­que: Tesla. But that’s all about to change with the ar­rival of Porsche’s new Taycan

Evo India - - CONTENTS -

New metal from the Frank­furt Mo­tor Show: the Porsche Taycan and Volk­swa­gen ID.3 lead­ing the charge for EVs, while the Land Rover De­fender and top­less Fer­raris like the F8 Spi­der and 812 GTS keep the can­dle burn­ing for ICEs

IT IS IN­EVITABLE, THE PLUG’S over­take of the pump. One day, not so long from now, we could be view­ing per­for­mance car favourites such as the cur­rent 911 GT3 as the swan­song to 150 years of in­ter­nal com­bus­tion. And this, the Porsche Taycan, is the point of no re­turn. The scales have tipped. The brand that rep­re­sents the very essence of sports car man­u­fac­tur­ing has re­vealed its hand.

Tesla was the dis­rupter, but this is the re­sponse. Not so much a cold war arms race, more a front-line mil­i­tary of­fen­sive. This is Porsche putting its rep­u­ta­tion, and €6 bil­lion (`4700 crore), into shoring up its po­si­tion at the fig­u­ra­tive head of per­for­mance mo­tor­ing. The Taycan, with its new fac­tory, plat­form and per­son­al­ity, has it all on the line. It must trans­fer Porsche’s rep­u­ta­tion to a new form, and because first im­pres­sions last, it can’t af­ford to be half-baked. That’s why long be­fore the Mis­sion E con­cept first ap­peared on a show stand in Frank­furt four years ago, Porsche had al­ready started de­vel­op­ment on its first elec­tric pro­duc­tion car. And this is the re­sult.

The un­der­ly­ing chas­sis is all-new from the ground up, shar­ing al­most noth­ing with other Porsche mod­els due to an em­pha­sis on pack­ag­ing an en­tirely dif­fer­ent kind of pow­er­train. In terms of di­men­sions, the Taycan is 90mm shorter than a Panam­era, 21mm wider and 47mm less tall, but with an ex­tremely low nose per­mit­ted by the ab­sence of an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion engine, the re­duc­tion of vis­ual mass shrinks the Taycan fur­ther. In the flesh, it gen­uinely looks like a four-door 911, the frontal sec­tion dom­i­nated by haunches that frame the view out from the driver’s seat, just like in the rear-en­gined Porsche.

The de­tail­ing, mean­while, is typ­i­cally Porsche-sharp, with slim, near-hid­den LED head and tail lights that leave the fas­cias clean and free of su­per­flu­ous el­e­ments. But that’s just the out­side. It’s be­neath the Taycan’s skin where it all be­comes very un-Porsche…

BODY & CHAS­SIS

The Taycan’s body is of mixed-metal con­struc­tion, with high-strength steel, alu­minium press­ings and cast alu­minium el­e­ments riv­eted and glued to­gether. This helps keep the body-in-white weight down with­out hav­ing to re­sort to time- and cost-sap­ping car­bon­fi­bre. De­spite this, the Taycan still weighs 2295kg over­all – 300kg more than a Panam­era Turbo, but 15kg lighter than the Panam­era Turbo S E-Hy­brid.

The lithium-ion bat­tery pack is mounted un­der the car’s floor and has a lay­out that is nearly flat, with two cut-out sec­tions be­hind the front seats for im­proved rear-pas­sen­ger com­fort. Adap­tive air sus­pen­sion will be stan­dard on most vari­ants, while the axles are all-new, with only el­e­ments around the wheel hubs and steer­ing sys­tems taken from the Panam­era. Wheels will be 20 or 21 inches.

PER­FOR­MANCE

The Taycan will ini­tially be of­fered in two ver­sions, some­what mis­nomered Turbo and Turbo S. A third, less-pow­er­ful model will even­tu­ally join them.

The Taycan Turbo S will hit 100kmph from rest in 2.8sec. And, un­like the ac­cel­er­a­tion times you see quoted for Tes­las, that fig­ure isn’t only achiev­able af­ter wait­ing sev­eral min­utes to ‘pre­con­di­tion’ the bat­ter­ies by bring­ing them up to tem­per­a­ture – it’s a time you can hit again and again, on de­mand, with­out the elec­tron­ics de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pre­ma­turely. Zero to 200kmph is cov­ered in 9.8sec, and top speed is lim­ited to 260kmph. The non-S Turbo will hit 100kmph in 3.2sec, 200kmph in 10.6sec and is lim­ited to the same max­i­mum.

The pow­er­train’s urge is sup­plied by two elec­tric mo­tors – one on each axle – that in the Turbo S com­bine to cre­ate a peak power out­put of 750bhp, paired with 1049Nm of torque. If there is one caveat, it’s that these are ‘over­boost’ peaks, only avail­able when us­ing launch con­trol. Nor­mally you’re look­ing at 616bhp and an as yet un­re­vealed torque fig­ure. The Turbo of­fers the same 616bhp ‘ba­sic’ power out­put, with 671bhp and 850Nm for launches. Both mod­els are rated with a range of be­tween 386 and 450km on a sin­gle charge.

THE TURBO S WILL HIT 100KMPH IN 2.8SEC, AGAIN AND AGAIN

POW­ER­TRAIN

The pow­er­train is Porsche’s own, de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for the Taycan. The elec­tric mo­tors, in­vert­ers, bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tems and con­nec­tion meth­ods are all as­sem­bled in­house in Zuf­fen­hausen, a mere stone’s throw from the 911 pro­duc­tion line.

The two mo­tors are of the per­ma­nently ex­cited syn­chro­nous type, which have the ad­van­tages of im­proved power den­sity and bet­ter ther­mal man­age­ment com­pared with other elec­tric mo­tor types. The rear mo­tor pro­duces 449bhp and is the same in both Turbo and Turbo S. It drives the rear wheels via a twospeed trans­mis­sion, which has been in­cluded to ex­tend the reach of the elec­tric mo­tor, fos­ter­ing that in­tense ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion but then run­ning a higher fi­nal ra­tio for sus­tained high-speed mo­tor­ing. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the Turbo and Turbo S lies in the sec­ond, frontaxle-mounted units – the S get­ting a more po­tent ver­sion to achieve its higher com­bined power peak.

As you’d ex­pect, Porsche’s up­stand­ing de­vel­op­ment regime has been ad­hered to, with the Taycan be­ing put through an even more in­ten­sive sched­ule to en­sure that the elec­tric mo­tors and bat­ter­ies can with­stand any con­di­tions with­out vari­a­tions in per­for­mance or re­li­a­bil­ity.

The cells of the lithium-ion bat­ter­ies are all tem­per­a­ture con­trolled and of­fer a to­tal stor­age ca­pac­ity of 93kWh. An 800V elec­tri­cal sys­tem is used, which al­lows two things: firstly, the ca­bling routed around the chas­sis can be phys­i­cally smaller and lighter, and se­condly, 270kW charg­ing is pos­si­ble from ap­pro­pri­ate charge points, mean­ing the bat­ter­ies’ charge can be taken from five to 80 per cent in just over 20 min­utes.

The way you con­trol this EV’s speed will also be dif­fer­ent to most oth­ers, with Porsche de­cid­ing to go in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion to the ‘one pedal’ method­ol­ogy em­ployed by many other elec­tric ve­hi­cles. In­stead of bat­tery re­gen­er­a­tion be­gin­ning when the driver lifts off the ac­cel­er­a­tor, with an ef­fect that can be strong enough to bring the car to a com­plete halt with­out us­ing the brake pedal, the Taycan will or­gan­i­cally coast with­out any re­gen­er­a­tion (al­though there is an op­tion to en­able ac­cel­er­a­tor-off re­gen if de­sired). Re­gen­er­a­tion in­stead oc­curs dur­ing the ini­tial stages of brake pedal in­put, with the fric­tion brakes then tak­ing over when you’re deeper into the travel. The com­bined re­sult should mean it feels just like brak­ing in a ‘reg­u­lar’ car.

Blend­ing the two brak­ing meth­ods into one lin­ear ef­fect was one of the big­gest chal­lenges in cal­i­bra­tion, as Porsche has been less than suc­cess­ful in achiev­ing this in its cur­rent elec­tri­fied mod­els such as the Cayenne and Panam­era Turbo S E-Hy­brids. The Taycan’s fric­tion brakes use tung­sten-coated discs on the Turbo, sig­ni­fied by white calipers, and car­bon-ce­ramic discs with yel­low calipers on the Turbo S.

THE TAYCAN’S IN­TE­RIOR IS PURE PORSCHE

IN­TE­RIOR

While the Taycan di­verges from the Porsche norm in many as­pects, its in­te­rior has been kept closer to the heart­land, and im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fies it­self as a Porsche prod­uct.

If there’s one cru­cial el­e­ment that is miss­ing, it’s a cen­trally mounted ana­logue tachome­ter, but, of course, here there are no revs to count (in a tra­di­tional sense). The sig­na­ture row of five di­als re­mains, how­ever, here dig­i­tally recre­ated on a curved, free-stand­ing 16.8-inch dis­play. It’s an ex­pen­sive-look­ing el­e­ment that is just the first of mul­ti­ple dig­i­tal in­ter­faces, which con­tinue with the same 10.9-inch in­fo­tain­ment dis­play as found in a cur­rent 911, but with new soft­ware to match the Taycan’s EV ca­pa­bil­i­ties. There is also an op­tional sec­ond 10.9-inch screen that sits to the right of the cen­tral unit and acts as a pas­sen­ger dis­play when the car de­tects some­one is sit­ting be­side the driver. When there isn’t, this dis­play will ei­ther be dimmed or can show just the Taycan logo.

Porsche’s clas­sic tech­nique of fill­ing the cen­tre con­sole with con­trols, phys­i­cal or oth­er­wise, has been re­placed by yet an­other screen, an 8.4-inch hap­tic item, mounted in a por­trait lay­out. This has the HVAC con­trols on the top half, and an in­put area be­low that al­lows driv­ers to swipe, prod or type com­mands into the main 10.9-inch sys­tem.

Other than the new dig­i­tal in­ter­faces, the Taycan’s in­te­rior is pure Porsche, with a small and per­fectly formed steer­ing wheel and an over­all com­bi­na­tion of su­perb build qual­ity and ma­te­rial choice. It’s not as glam­orous or or­nate as in­side a Panam­era, per­haps, but this new min­i­mal­ism says a lot about Porsche’s fu­ture aes­thetic.

Ma­te­rial fin­ishes have taken on a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly path, with ve­gan op­tions, and there’s a wider spread of new­gen­er­a­tion tex­tile and multi-ma­te­rial fin­ishes that de­vi­ate from the usual leather in­te­ri­ors of 911s and Panam­eras. And while rear-seat space is tight for adults, it’s per­fectly com­fort­able once you’ve nav­i­gated the low roofline and tight rear door open­ing.

RI­VALS

Tesla, the provo­ca­tor that might be the rea­son we’ll have a Porsche Taycan in 2020 rather than later, pushed the bound­aries of elec­tric mo­bil­ity, but did so with­out the dis­ci­pline in­her­ent in a tra­di­tional car com­pany. It was so ahead of the game that a Model S Per­for­mance (pic­tured right) still out­per­forms the Taycan on pa­per, and does so at a lower price tag.

Audi’s own ver­sion of the Taycan, the e-tron GT, is also on its way, and de­spite be­ing en­gi­neered by a dif­fer­ent team, in a dif­fer­ent city, the chal­lenge will be how the two man­u­fac­tur­ers can main­tain some form of their own iden­ti­ties in the two cars.

WORDS by JOR­DAN KATSIANIS

Be­low: Lines re­flect what a four-door 911 might look like; Taycan is shorter than a Panam­era, but also wider

Be­low: White calipers de­note the stan­dard brakes and dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Turbo model from the more pow­er­ful Turbo S

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