The Taycan, Porsche’s pivotal step into the high-performance and high-price end of the EV landscape, is quick, comfortable, and likely to be a serious Tesla contender. The Taycan (pronounced TIE-kahn) is at least as important to Porsche as the first-generation Cayenne, not in terms of profit, but for reshaping the arc of the company’s future vehicles.
The automaker was determined not to do an electric SUV, and it knew a sports car wouldn’t be able to sell in high enough numbers to satisfy global regulatory requirements. So Porsche landed on a fastback-sedan configuration. The Taycan is very nearly the same length as a Tesla Model S and 3.4 inches shorter than the Panamera, but it has a substantially lower roofline than either. But Tesla certainly deserves credit for doing the very expensive, money-losing research that’s proved there’s a market for luxury EVs. And sure enough, Porsche had 30,000 orders in hand globally even before the Taycan’s public debut.
Electric-vehicle breakthroughs include a much higher operating voltage that enables faster charging as well as the first multispeed EV transaxle. Both of these help facilitate uncharacteristically consistent acceleration performance for an EV.
Porsche is sticking with its traditional naming convention, calling these high-power models Turbo and Turbo S even though, obviously, neither has a turbocharger. This also means that it’s fairly easy to imagine how the bottom end of the model line will fill in later, with commensurately lower power figures and prices.
The Turbo S’s numbers are big: 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, and a price starting at $186,350. The less expensive, $152,250 Turbo will have 670 horses and 626 lb-ft of torque. The difference between the two is primarily at the front axle, where the S’s larger inverter enables more front-motor thrust. You get those outputs for only 2.5 seconds at a time; after that, both models drop to 616 horsepower, which can be maintained for 10 seconds. The Taycan’s 162-mph top speed is achieved in top gear at the motors’ 16,000-rpm redline.
Rather than have a uniform, rectangular battery pack in the floor, Porsche strategically relocated two of the 33 modules that make up its 93.4-kWh pack to leave space for rear passengers’ feet. It worked; rear-seat space and legroom are quite generous. Other interior tricks include a curved 16.8-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 10.9-inch center screen that runs a new infotainment layout, moving to tablet-like squares of selectable functions rather than Porsche’s current setup of scrolling menus that we’ve found frustrating. There’s also an optional second screen in front of the passenger, with duplicate functionality for infotainment and navigation. In addition to the typical leather, there’s a leather-free option.
There are two areas where the Taycan may fall somewhat short of Tesla: its rated range and its lack of sophisticated semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology. There’s no official EPA range estimate yet, but the European cycle puts the longest-range Taycan at 280 miles. Using the Model S’s Euro-versus-U.S. fuel-economy figures as our yardstick, we predict the Taycan’s highest EPA rating will be somewhere between 260 and 270 miles; that’s in comparison with 370 miles for the top Tesla. Turbo S models should fall somewhere between 225 and 250 miles. But the Taycan has a trick up its rear subframe: a two-speed transmission, which, combined with the Taycan’s very low 0.22 coefficient of drag, may give it the edge in extended high-speed cruising that’s generally a range killer.
What about that very important component of the Porsche experience—sound? Both the light whine in Normal mode and the lower, more spaceship-like hum in Sport Plus originate at the Taycan’s speaker cones, but at least they’re recordings captured from actual electric motors on a test bench. It’s far from the burning wail of Porsche’s best, and when the Taycan is really hustling, the primary noise you hear is tire squeal. All that aside, Porsche’s electric car appears to be a true Porsche and a true sports sedan.
Credit: Car and Driver