Car reviews - Porsche - Taycan
Well-specified as standard, pure driving experience, decent energy efficiency
Room for improvement
More road noise than is ideal, more control over regenerative braking would aid driver engagement
Entry level Porsche Taycan feels like a tipping point in fast four-door history
31 Mar 2022
FOR $12,000 less than the last V8 Mercedes-AMG C63S sedan you can have the first electric Porsche sedan. It feels like something a tipping point in hot four-door history.
And though getting close to the AMG’s whopping outputs of 375kW and 700Nm requires an extra 35 grand for the all-wheel-drive Taycan 4S, such is life with the pecking order of Stuttgart-based car brands.
First customer deliveries of the entry-level and eponymous Taycan are now rolling into Australia, where it is priced from $156,300 before on-road costs for the range’s only rear-drive variant.
It’s less powerful but lighter than the dual-motor variants and of course, there’s a purity to rear-drive sports sedans.
But will it leave you wanting more? We spend a few hours behind the wheel of the least-expensive electric Porsche to find out.
“Sorry to name drop but these roads are a bit of a playground for Mark Webber when he’s in Australia,” quips Porsche Cars Australia PR man Chris Jordan as the assembled media rotate through a quartet of Taycans parked out front of the iconic Rick’s Garage diner in the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Palmwoods.
Rick’s is at the centre of a 250km road loop that, as you’d expect from the Aussie former F1 and endurance racing driver, encourages spirited driving.
The first car we try is 100 per cent charged at our departure point in Noosa and displaying more than 430km of range on the dashboard courtesy of the $12K Performance Battery Plus option that adds 65km of range (total claimed: 434km) and a bit more power and torque to help overcome the weight gain that comes with an extra set of lithium-ion cells.
According to Mr Jordan, most buyers will spend the money on the big battery, which promises to prove helpful if you intend on regularly doing road trips. Either way, you get the same 800-volt DC rapid charging capability for quick top-ups en route – although the smaller battery’s maximum charge rate is 225kW compared with the big one’s 270kW.
Porsche claims it takes 22.5 minutes to get the Taycan from five per cent charge to 80 per cent provided you hook it up to the right kind of 800-volt ultra-rapid charger. A 50kW 400-volt DC charger will take 93 minutes to do the same job.
GoAuto’s previous experience with Taycans has verified that these cars can absorb huge amounts of power in a short period of time, making a 20-minute bathroom and snack break more than enough to add another 300 kilometres or so to the battery.
Perhaps of more value on a day-to-day basis is the optional ($3500) 22kW onboard charger fitted to our test car – standard on the Turbo and Turbo S – which speeds up AC charging at home, work or destination chargers.
Regular AC charging capacity is 11kW, which takes nine hours to get the battery from completely empty to completely full.
Electric refuelling practicalities discussed, our first impression as we thread our way through Noosa’s many multi-lane roundabouts is that like all entry-level Porsches, the base Taycan has more than enough power and plenty of dynamic appeal.
During some slow traffic as we head inland, we have time to appreciate how the rear-drive Taycan is well-equipped enough right out of the box to suit most needs and many wants.
AMG comparisons notwithstanding, its starting price is a tempting step across from an optioned-up Cayenne or personalised Macan GTS yet still provides a canvas on which to apply some choice options and make this feel like anything but a base model.
The big battery might help with resale but for those living in the now, we’d divert those funds toward an upgraded interior with Race Tex roof lining ($3970) and extended leather ($7540) to make each journey feel more special and more of an event.
You’ll see in the accompanying images that the test car’s $2300 Cherry Metallic paintwork is a non-obvious choice, but it makes more sense in the metal, especially the way it accentuates the Taycan’s curvaceous form under the cloudless early-morning Sunshine Coast sky of our drive route.
Once the sun climbs higher, that same sky relegates the shade-free and $3370 optional panoramic roof to annoying rather than desirable. Perhaps that’s why Porsche furnished everyone at the event with a hat.
Also fitted to the test car but more relevant after dark are $3620 worth of adaptive matrix LED headlights, ambient interior lighting ($890) and LED logo courtesy lights ($600).
We also have front-seat heating for $910 (it’s 31 degrees outside), electrically operated charger covers ($1310 and a neat party trick as they disappear into the bodywork), 19-inch ‘Taycan S Aero’ alloy wheels that at $2400 do not look sufficiently more expensive than the regular items, automated parking (useful at $1890) and ‘4+1’ rear seats that add an extra headrest and seatbelt to make the area between the two rear seats legally but not comfortably habitable.
On that note, rear accommodation is a bit cramped for taller folk but a pleasant place for anyone else. Further back, the boot is 41 litres bigger than other Taycan sedans at 407L but despite the lack of front motor, the ‘frunk’ space remains at 84 litres.
If the $2840 Bose 14-speaker audio system is an upgrade – it gets awfully muddy at higher volumes – we’d hate to think how bad the regular set-up must be. And the less said about the Porsche Electric Sport Sound the better, which at $1050 sounds more like a muffled hairdryer.
The front seats of the Taycan are excellent – ours had the $800 adaptive sports seat option with 18-way electric adjustment and memory – with our only gripe being a driving position that feels a centimetre or so too high for a 188cm tall driver.
Otherwise, this is a comfortable and supportive workstation with most key controls falling easily to hand – although the nubbin-like gear selector protruding horizontally from the dash is a bit weird to begin with and in-cabin storage is adequate rather than generous.
Buttons are few and far between. Big, crisp digital displays from the two-deck central touchscreen to the 16.8-inch curved instrument panel and head-up display projected onto the windscreen are easy to use, generously configurable and provide quick access to myriad functions and data.
One particularly clever feature is the roller/click control for adjusting each element of the instrument panel that works in exactly the same way for configuring the head-up display, making the whole layout feel cohesive.
There’s wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity – but seemingly no wireless phone charging – as well as always-on embedded mobile connection, dual-zone climate control with both temperature and fan adjustment for each front occupant, native sat-nav, digital radio reception, four USB-C ports and surround-view cameras with parking sensors at both ends.
On the subject of sensors, this is a rare Porsche in that adaptive cruise control is standard, along with lane-keep and lane change assist and autonomous emergency braking with intersection collision intervention.
Keyless entry and start – a nice touch is how the Taycan gets the aircon going as it senses you approaching – LED everything, leather-appointed seating – in our car’s case the no-cost black over chalk beige – and electric everything (even the drivetrain), and the electrically adjustable, leather-trimmed, good-to-grasp multi-function steering wheel is standard.
From an equipment and technology perspective, this entry-level car leaves very little to be desired in standard form. And it comes with three years of complimentary public charging via the Chargefox network.
Once free of the congestion and into rural country west of the Bruce Highway, the single-motor Taycan’s relatively modest 280kW (40kW more due to the bigger battery) and 357Nm of torque (12Nm more than the regular battery) still feels plenty punchy.
Claimed 0-100km/h time is a still-respectable 5.4 seconds, although a later drive in the Turbo (3.2 seconds in sedan form, or 2.8s for the Turbo S) reminds of how much more punch Porsche can extract from this electric drivetrain.
Power delivery is as instantaneous, smooth and relentless as we have come to expect of EVs and with the infernal synthesised sound disabled, is accompanied by an unobtrusive whizzing noise from the motor along with more road rumble on these coarse-chip country roads than we’d have expected from a luxury sedan competitor.
There’s plenty of confidence to overtake slower moving traffic – of which there is plenty – especially as there is no waiting for a transmission to kick down or turbos to spool up. That said, switching to Sport mode adds even more urgency.
One major technological difference with the rear-drive Taycan is its steel-sprung suspension with adaptive dampers, whereas all other variants ride on an adjustable air set-up. It also lacks ‘torque vectoring plus’ as fitted to the GTS, Turbo and Turbo S, while ‘dynamic chassis control sport’ is not even available as an option.
Where all this tech makes the Turbo feel a bit aloof when driven fast but smooth and lairy when provoked, the rear-drive car is both more analogue and benign on the challenging roads favoured by a certain Mr Webber.
The low centre of gravity wrought by all those batteries slung below deck seems to have minimised body movement despite the compliant ride and relatively basic suspension design – no doubt helped by the relatively small 19-inch alloy wheels – to help negotiate some pretty hairy mid-corner bumps without losing composure.
Cycling through Sport and Sport Plus modes progressively firms the adaptive dampers and add a bit of heft to the steering, lending the Taycan a more hunkered and purposeful feel, but the varying road surfaces of our rural drive route and the more natural steering weight of the default drive mode had us only resorting to the more focused settings on some truly twisty stuff.
Plenty of grip is available and its limits arrive predictably, the steering is beautifully crisp, accurate and well-weighted and the brakes strong, progressive and without the usual EV inconsistencies where regenerative braking merges with physical pads-on-rotors retardation.
Compared with most EVs, lift-off regenerative braking in the Taycan is mild and is almost absent by default. The sense of coasting can be a bit disconcerting, and we found ourselves activating the regen on twisty roads just to have that familiar sense of ‘engine braking’.
Other EVs have paddle-shifter type controls to adjust the level of regen, which provided a layer of interactivity otherwise lacking from the seamless character of electric drive. We hope Porsche comes up with something similar, just to give keen drivers that human-machine connection they yearn.
Because otherwise, the Taycan is incredibly satisfying to drive, yet cruises comfortably around town or on the motorway.
And with all these scenarios covered, plus a lot of playing about on Mark Webber’s favourite roads, we got back to base with 250km on the trip computer and more than 150km of battery range remaining.
That’s pretty impressive for a car with 434km of claimed range, equating to a fairly frugal 22kWh/100km. What’s more, before we hit the most dynamic part of the drive loop, the trip computer was reporting energy usage of 20.3kWh/100km.
It’s not exactly affordable, but in the context of this being a Porsche and all that encompasses, which also happens to be well-equipped as standard and packing a brilliant and pioneering all-electric drivetrain, the entry-level Taycan seems like great value for money if you are an early adopter wanting to treat themselves and the budget to do so.
Although this variant is never going to leave that V8-powered Mercedes in its rear-view mirror on the road, the Taycan range is all about looking forward to what promises to be an enticing – and electrified – performance car future.
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