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Porsche is best known for producing some of the very best sports cars in motoring history, but like most other carmakers, it doesn’t have experience in producing electric cars - until now.
That’s a tall task, but if any carmaker can pull it off, it’s Porsche. So, is the Taycan something special? Let’s find out.
|Porsche Taycan 2021: 4S|
When concept cars become production models, a lot of what makes them so special is often lost in translation, but the Taycan tells a different story, with it largely staying faithful to the Mission E that previewed it.
And there’s no mistaking the Taycan for anything but a Porsche model. That said, it’s also clearly different to its siblings, inside and out.
Being an electric car, aerodynamics is a key focus for the Taycan, with its influence on the exterior evident from the front, where active air curtains ‘drip down’ from the signature four-point LED daytime running lights.
And around the side, the Taycan has cool pop-out door handles, which look to minimise drag alongside an array of aerodynamic alloy wheel designs created to extend its driving range.
Then at the rear, the Taycan has a three-stage spoiler positioned above its LED tail-light, with it automatically raised at 90km/h, and then again at 160km/h, and once more at 200km/h to increase downforce.
Of course, the Taycan really hammers home the electric-car point with its chunky diffuser, which of course doesn’t integrate exhaust tailpipes, given it has zero emissions.
Inside, it’s immediately apparent the Taycan is a technological tour de force, and a visually impressive one at that.
Buttons are few and far between, with the centre stack featuring 10.9- and 8.4-inch touchscreens, with the former the central display, while the latter handles the climate controls, complete with useful haptic feedback.
Surprisingly, this combination is actually pretty easy to use, although learning where to tap and when takes some time, and then there are all the resulting fingerprints...
And if you want the front passenger to get in on the action more easily, a second 10.9-inch touchscreen can be added to their side of the dashboard for $2150, but why would you bother?
And as futuristic as this set-up already is, it’s the curved 16.8-inch digital instrument cluster that steals all the attention. It’s a massive, stunning beast that puts what you need within sight.
Otherwise, the interior is classic Porsche, with high-quality materials used throughout, including the availability of ‘leather-free’ upholstery alongside genuine cow hide.
Measuring 4963mm long (with a 2900mm wheelbase), 1966m wide, and 1379mm tall, the Taycan is large sedan in every sense of the term, but being an electric car, it was always going to do things a little bit differently when it came to practicality.
For example, the boot has a cargo capacity of 366L, which is underwhelming, but it can be increased to an undisclosed volume by stowing the 60/40 split-fold rear seats, an action that can only be performed via the second row’s manual release latches.
And to make loading bulkier items more difficult, the boot’s aperture is small, and there’s a tall load lip to contend with.
That said, the floor is flat, and there are deep storage bins to the sides and a decent underfloor cubby (perfect for storing the onboard charging cable). Four tie-down points and a 12V power outlet are also on hand.
While all of that is a bit of a mixed bag, the Taycan’s party trick is its froot (or frunk), which provides another 84L of cargo capacity, meaning it can accommodate a couple of soft bags or a small suitcase. Yep, being an electric car, there’s no engine under the bonnet.
Some compromises are also found in the second row, where only two inches of legroom are available behind my 184cm (6'0") driving position alongside a couple of centimetres of headroom. Given its larger dimensions, you’d think the Taycan would be more spacious for rear occupants.
Speaking of which, there are two seats in the second row as standard, although a middle seat can replace the central tray for $1000, but it’s best not to be used full-time due to its raised positioning, which prompts hunching.
The second row isn’t super wide, either, so three adults sitting abreast isn’t an enjoyable experience, with the large central hump also eating into precious footwell space.
Either way, two ISOFIX anchorage points are on hand for fitting child seats, should younger kids feel the need for speed.
Amenities-wise, the second row comes with a fold-down armrest with two cupholders as well as two USB-C ports and a 12V power outlet, while the rear door bins can accommodate one regular bottle each.
In the first row, there are another two USB-C ports and a 12V power outlet in the small central bin, while the glove box is also undersized.
That said, there are two cupholders in the centre console, while the front door bins can take two regular bottles apiece.
For now, the 4S grade kicks off proceedings, with it priced from $190,400 plus on-road costs. Yep, you can get into a Taycan for $10,000 less than the slightly larger Panamera, not to mention $45,000 less than the iconic 911 – that’s a welcome surprise.
Standard equipment in the 4S includes three-chamber air suspension with adaptive dampers, cast-iron brakes (360mm front and 358mm rear discs with six- and four-piston calipers respectively), dusk-sensing LED headlights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, 20-inch 'Sport Aero' alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a power-operated tailgate and black exterior trim.
Inside, keyless entry and start, satellite navigation with live traffic, Apple CarPlay support, digital radio, a 710W Bose sound system with 14 speakers, a heated steering wheel, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, and dual-zone climate control feature.
The Turbo grade costs a lot more, at $268,500, but adds rear torque vectoring, sports-tuned suspension with active anti-roll bars, ceramic-coated cast-iron brakes (410mm front and 365mm rear discs with six- and four-piston calipers respectively), Matrix LED headlights, 20-inch Turbo Aero alloy wheels, body-colour exterior trim, heated rear seats and four-zone climate control.
Then there’s the Turbo S grade, which requires another $70,000 but bundles in 'Electric Sport Sound', the 'Sport Chrono Package', speed-sensitive and rear-wheel steering, carbon-ceramic brakes (420mm front and 410mm rear discs with 10- and four-piston callipers respectively), 21-inch 'Mission E Design' alloy wheels, carbon-fibre exterior trim, a sports steering wheel and 18-way power-adjustable front sports seats.
Being a Porsche model, the Taycan comes with an extensive list of expensive options, with one that should be included being the $3350 head-up display, and there are plenty of others that we’ll mention in later sections.
Electric rivals for the Taycan include the pioneering Tesla Model S ($145,718 to $223,718) and related Audi e-tron GT (yet to be priced), while the BMW M5 Competition ($246,900) and Mercedes-AMG E 63 S ($253,900) are among its ‘traditional’ foes.
All Taycan grades come with two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors, which are split between the front and rear axles to enable all-wheel drive.
Unlike other electric cars, the Taycan is fitted with a single-speed automatic transmission on the front axle, and a two-speed unit on the rear axle, which increases its performance potential.
That said, as their names suggest, not all grades are created equal, with the 4S producing up to 390kW of power and 640Nm of torque, and dashing from a standstill to 100km/h in a claimed four seconds flat.
While the $11,590 'Performance Battery Plus' package increases the 4S’s outputs to 420kW and 650Nm, its impressive triple-digit sprint time stays the same.
Then there’s the Turbo, which ups the ante to a ludicrous 500kW and 850Nm, reaching 100km/h in just 3.2s.
But it’s the Turbo S that takes performance to a whole other level, with it developing 560kW and 1050Nm, to hit triple digits in an almost unbelievable 2.8s. Yep, it’s one of the quickest cars in history.
It’s worth noting in all Taycan grades, maximum power and torque are only available on overboost, which is only activated when launch control is engaged.
Being electric, the 4S comes with a 79.2kWh battery as standard, and has an official combined electricity consumption of 26.2kWh/100km and a claimed driving range (ADR 81/02) of 365km.
That said, buyers can opt for the $11,590 Performance Battery Plus package, which upgrades the 4S’s battery to a 93.4kWh unit. It uses 27.0kWh/100km and travels a much more useful 414km between charges.
The larger battery is standard in the Turbo, which uses 28.0kWh/100km and covers 420km before needing to be charged.
The same battery is also found in the Turbo S, although it uses 28.5kWh/100km and lasts 405km on a single charge.
In the real world, we managed to better the claims of the 4S (21.5kWh/100km over 70km) and Turbo (25.2kWh/100km over 61km), and fell just shy of that of the Turbo S (29.1kWh/100km over 67km).
While that is a strong set of results, it’s worth keeping in mind the launch routes mainly consisted of high-speed country roads, so a more balanced mix of roads would yield higher returns.
Either way, we never found ourselves riddled with anxiety when it came to driving range. And considering the high level of performance that’s on offer, that’s great news.
But when the Taycan does run out of juice, the 4S can DC fast charge with up to 225kW of power, although that can be increased to 270kW with the $11,590 Performance Battery Plus package, which is fitted to the Turbo and Turbo S as standard.
Using a DC fast charger with a CCS connector, the Taycan’s battery can go from five to 80 per cent capacity in as little as 22.5 minutes, while an 11kW AC charger with a Type 2 connnector can do the job from either side of the car in eight hours for the small unit or nine for the large. So, overnight.
Pleasingly, all Taycan grades also come with a three-year subscription to Chargefox’s public EV charger network, which includes DC fast chargers.
Like all Porsche models, the Taycan doesn’t have an ANCAP rating, which means it hasn’t been independently crash-tested. That said, it still puts in a strong effort on the safety front.
Advanced driver-assist systems in all Taycan grades extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.
But you’ll have to pay $1200 for steering and intersection assist, $2000 for rear autonomous emergency braking and cross-traffic alert with park assist, and $4650 for 'Night Vision.' Frankly, all but the latter should be standard.
Other standard safety equipment includes eight airbags, anti-lock brakes and the usual electronic traction and stability control systems.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
That said, the Taycan’s battery is covered for eight years or 160,000km, which brings extra peace of mind.
The Taycan also gets ongoing roadside assistance, so long as it’s serviced by Porsche, with it renewed following every service.
Speaking of servicing, intervals for the Taycan are nice and long, at every two years or 30,000km (whichever comes first).
Unfortunately, service pricing for the Taycan wasn’t available at the time of writing, so owners will have to contact Porsche to confirm it before each visit.
Explosive. If there’s one way to describe the Taycan – and particularly the Turbo and Turbo S – it’s explosive.
In fact, it’s hard to put into words the sensation you feel when stomping on the Turbo S’s accelerator for the very first time, no matter the drive mode.
You know the Turbo S is going to be very, very torquey, but nothing prepares for how much there is, let alone the instantaneous nature of the delivery.
To use an old motoring cliché, the Turbo S pins you to your seat, not only off the line, but also ‘in-gear.' It’s a violent precursor to the relentless acceleration that ensues.
And while it’s just capital letter short of top billing, the Turbo’s straight-line performance is only a fraction or two behind that of its big brother.
The same isn’t true of the 4S, which is much more sensible – well, relatively. It still charges towards the horizon with intent but does so in a ‘calmer’ manner.
It’s therefore the sensible choice in the line-up, while the other two options are laugh – or scream – out loud fun.
Either way, the Taycan experience is taken to the next level by Electric Sport Sound (optional in the 4S and Turbo but standard in the Turbo S), which is active in the Sport+ drive mode. The new-school, sci-fi soundtrack it provides is actually pretty damn cool…
So too is the rear axle’s two-speed automatic transmission, which you can hear and feel change gears. As mentioned, it’s a unique feature for an electric car and allows the Taycan to keep sprinting and sprinting.
But when the time does come to pull up stumps, regenerative braking subtlety comes to the fore (unless the 'Range' drive mode is engaged), with it charging the battery off-throttle. In fact, Porsche claims 90 per cent of everyday driving doesn’t engage the actual brakes.
But when the discs and calipers are called upon, they go hard. The 4S cast-iron items are strong, while the Turbo’s ceramic-coated cast-iron stoppers are even stronger, but it’s the Turbo S’s carbon-ceramic brakes that wash speed away with ease. Prolifically so.
But as impressive as the braking performance is, more so is the pedal feel. Why? Well, most electric cars are shocking (pun intended) when it comes to this key aspect, but the Taycan leads the way with its linearity, which cannot be underestimated.
Of course, there’s more to the Taycan experience than just accelerating and braking, with it also putting in a prodigious effort on the handling front.
Firstly, you’d expect the ludicrous outputs of the Turbo and Turbo S – and perhaps the 4S – to be enough to occasionally upset even the best all-wheel-drive system, but they just don’t. Grip is plentiful at all times, whether from a standing start or slingshotting out of a corner.
The latter is made more achievable by the Turbo and Turbo S’s rear torque vectoring, which works hard to find the wheel with the most traction. While the 4S misses out on that feature, its mid-corner grip is still strong.
Body control is also very impressive when attacking a good twisty road, with the 2305kg Turbo and 2295kg Turbo S’s active anti-roll bars doing their best to cancel body roll. Again, the 2140kg 4S misses out, but it only tips in every so slightly.
Better yet, the Turbo S’s size isn’t intimidating through the bends thanks to its rear-axle steering, which effectively shortens its long wheelbase and makes it behave like a much smaller car. This time, the 4S and Turbo miss out, but they don’t feel cumbersome to begin with.
Of course, another key part of the handling is the electric power steering system, which also happens to be really, really good.
The 4S and Turbo get the same version, which is not only well-weighted, but also nice and direct while also offering a surprising level of feel.
The Turbo S goes a step further once more, including speed sensitivity in its version. As a result, it’s relatively light in hand at low speed for improved manoeuvrability but noticeably heavier at high speed for better stability.
Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Taycan’s sports-car focus means it’s not the most comfortable large sedan going around, but it actually rides relatively well thanks to its three-chamber air suspension set-up.
As its name suggests, the 'Comfort' drive mode is rather pleasant, but if you want flatter cornering, the adaptive dampers can progressively become firmer by engaging the 'Sport' and 'Sport+' drive modes, with the former more than liveable, while the latter is a little too much.
It’s worth noting the Turbo and Turbo S get a sports tune, so they don’t ride quite as well as the 4S in all regards. Either way, the large alloy wheels and thin tyres of all three do have a habit of catching sharp edges, but that’s not a deal breaker.
Speaking of tyres, the noise generated by them is prevalent in the cabin, particularly on lower-quality roads. That and the audible wind noise above 110km/h are made more obvious by the fact the Taycan doesn’t have engine noise to compete with them – a minor bugbear, though.
As far as electric cars go, the Taycan might just be the best one yet, with it well and truly putting the pressure on the upcoming refreshed Tesla Model S and Audi's e-tron GT.
But the Taycan’s greatness actually has nothing to do with the fact that it’s an electric car, and everything to do with the fact that it’s a phenomenal sports car, particularly in Turbo S form, although the cheaper Turbo is almost as good.
Either way, the Taycan has us very, very excited, and we can’t wait to see where it goes next.
|4S||—, Electric, 2 SP AUTO||$191,000||2021 Porsche Taycan 2021 4S Pricing and Specs|
|Turbo||—, Electric, 2 SP AUTO||$269,100||2021 Porsche Taycan 2021 Turbo Pricing and Specs|
|Turbo S||—, Electric, 2 SP AUTO||$339,100||2021 Porsche Taycan 2021 Turbo S Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Motor & trans||10|