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Car reviews - Porsche - Taycan - Range

Our Opinion

We like
Massive performance, good driving range, styling inside and out, interior fit/finish, handling prowess despite weight, everyday ride comfort and quietness
Room for improvement
Aesthetic interior can harm usability, expensive options, price jump between variants

Porsche sets EV benchmark with ballistic and refined Taycan four-door sportscar

24 Feb 2021

Overview

 

IT Was five long years ago that Porsche first unveiled its Mission E all-electric sportscar concept, a model that would preview the brand's first-ever zero-emissions offering, the four-door Taycan.

 

While it was a long time coming, the production Taycan has finally landed on Australian shores, split into three initial variants – the entry 4S, and the curiously named Turbo and Turbo S flagships.

 

With a huge amount of hype and expectation built up leading into its launch, we took the Taycan out on to the road to see if Porsche’s stellar reputation for petrol-powered sportcars can carry over into the world of EVs.

 

First drive impressions

 

Bearing a strong resemblance to the Mission E, the Taycan’s exterior design is unique but unmistakably Porsche, blending elements of the 911 and Panamera with its own distinct styling.

 

The result is a sleek and aerodynamically optimised four-door fastback design with a swooping silhouette, and a wide and flat rear end that from a distance, could easily be mistaken for either a 911 or Panamera – which is undoubtedly a good thing.

 

Porsche has not tried to go over the top with the Taycan styling, instead opting for a more subtle design persona which works well and matches its futuristic aesthetic.

 

The sleek and refined design is continued inside the cabin, with an overall theme that is still grounded in the style of current vehicles but with some more futuristic elements.

 

While previous-generation Porsche models have been designed with enough buttons to make a passenger jet blush – the Macan and 911 were particular offenders – newer models have featured a much more streamlined and uncluttered design, and the Taycan is arguably the best example of this yet.

 

Operation of the Taycan is almost entirely done through a set of screens, with the only physical buttons found on the steering wheel and around the edges of the digital instrument cluster.

 

Speaking of, the wonderfully integrated 16.8-inch curved display wraps towards the driver and offers great clarity and usability – the screen is oriented like the 911’s instrument cluster with three distinct areas (left, middle, right) which can each be customised to suit the driver’s preference.

 

Accompanying the instrument cluster display is a 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, nestled seamlessly into the dashboard which can optionally be paired with a second display for the front passenger.

 

Sitting below the touchscreen is the final digital screen in the Taycan, an 8.4-inch unit with haptic feedback that houses the air-conditioning controls and shortcuts for the infotainment system.

 

The array of digital screens make the Taycan feel like a next-generation, futuristic car, however while most functions are done with relative ease, the complete lack of physical buttons means certain functions are constrained to being buried deep in a set of sub-menus.

 

For example, in order to change the direction of air flow from the fixed air-conditioning vents, instead of simply manually adjusting the vent occupants are forced to delve into the A/C screen, find the different air flow settings and choose which setting they would prefer.

 

While the screen-heavy layout is aesthetically pleasing and for the most part functional, there are shortfalls that can make certain functions more tedious than need be.

 

The fit and finish of the Taycan cabin is excellent, with a range of finishes and upholstery options available including leather-free trim made from recycled materials.

 

However, like its stablemates, Porsche has consigned many Taycan features to the options list, which for the price should undoubtedly be included as standard.

 

For example, the top-spec Turbo S options list includes a head-up display ($3350), traffic jam assist ($1200) and a fixed panoramic roof ($3370), all of which should be standard kit for a car of its price.

 

Four adults are able to fit comfortably without having expansive amounts of room, while combined luggage space is pegged at 447 litres, split between a reasonable – but not roomy – 366L trunk and 911-style frunk which makes up the remaining 81L.

 

At launch, Porsche is offering three distinct Taycan variants – the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S – and if other Porsche variant conventions are anything to go by, a base-level Taycan can be expected at some point, as can a GTS grade to slot between the 4S and Turbo.

 

Priced from $190,400 plus on-road costs, the 4S comes with a 79.2kWh battery pack allowing an output of 390kW/640Nm and a 365km claimed driving range, however for $11,590 buyers can option the Performance battery that increases its size to 93.4kWh (like the Turbo and Turbo S) which boosts outputs to 420kW/650Nm and range to 414km.

 

Meanwhile, the $269,100 Turbo steps up power to 500kW/850Nm with a 420km range, and the flagship Turbo S ($339,100) produces a massive 560kW/1050Nm while sacrificing 15km of range over the Turbo (405km).

 

We sampled all three variants on our test, however our particular 4S was fitted with the Performance battery.

 

All employ a pair of electric motors at the front and rear, with all-wheel drive.

 

Regardless of which powertrain option buyers choose, performance across the board is savage, with a level of responsiveness and instant torque that leaves petrol engines in the dust.

 

The response from the motors is so fast that when flooring the accelerator from standstill, the Taycan has already started accelerating before the pedal has been fully depressed.

 

The initial hit of all-electric acceleration is similar to the Tesla Model S with occupants being violently shoved into the back of their seats – again, the sensation is something that just cannot be replicated by an internal-combustion model.

 

By comparison, acceleration after the initial burst seems slow, however one only needs to blink before seeing the speedometer read 100km/h.

 

For driving in normal conditions, the Taycan feels well-mannered with a user-friendly throttle calibration and smooth power delivery that can easily toe the line between comfortable family sedan and brutal electric sportscar.

 

Obviously the more powerful the variant, the more savage the performance, however we felt that our time in the 4S with the Performance Battery provided more than enough power and range, especially when factoring in the price jumps.

 

With the Turbo positioned $67,110 above the 4S plus Performance Battery, and the Turbo S a further $70,000 upmarket, we feel the jump in performance and spec struggles to justify the significant increases in cost.

 

Filling out the range with more variants will go some way to bridging that gap, but we still feel like an increase of nearly $140,000 across two variants is far too much.

 

When driving the Turbo S, we returned an energy consumption figure of 26.1kWh per 100km, which would make for a driving range of approximately 350km.

 

While many EVs struggle to get near their claimed fuel economy figures, we were happy with the return in the flagship given the majority of driving was done at high intensity with plenty of high-speed back-road cruising thrown in.

 

Throwing in the 800-volt charging capacity and repeatable performance, the Taycan is the first EV in Australia to really challenge Tesla’s battery performance.

 

While there is a button on the steering wheel that can set regenerative braking into two stages of intensity, we would have preferred a multi-stage regen system using a set of paddle-shifters like on other EV models.

 

While Porsche is marketing the Taycan as a four-door sportscar, we were pleasantly surprised by how plush and comfortable its ride quality is for day-to-day driving, which when combined with the luxurious interior and low-noise powertrain made for a comfortable and relaxed driving experience.

 

The suspension system does a great job of dealing with the Taycan’s significant kerb weight and sporting intentions, soaking up bumps well and helping to make it feel lighter than it really is.

 

Its lighter feel does transfer somewhat to its handling prowess, with Porsche doing a fine job of making a circa-2300kg car feel like a true Porsche sportscar.

 

Steering is typically direct and precise, while the excellent torque vectoring systems do a fine job of channelling the power to the wheels without allowing for any over- or understeer.

 

Furthermore, the instant torque delivery makes accelerating out of corners completely unlike a petrol car, while the brake feel is much more natural compared to other EVs.

 

The only time the Taycan felt unstable was accelerating through a corner that also contained an uphill camber that levelled out mid-corner, causing the Taycan’s weight to shift considerably and a hint of oversteer to appear.

 

Those doubting Porsche’s ability to turn a large-car-sized EV into a genuine sportscar need not worry, as the five-year lead time between the Mission E reveal and the production car arrival was clearly spent making the Taycan the best EV the brand could muster.

 

It is a truly impressive package – styling inside and out, powertrain performance and range, and overall dynamism – that shows that petrol-heads need not be afraid of the eventual death of the ICE sportscar.

 

Bring on the electric age.


The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 February 2021

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