To say that driving Porsche’s new Taycan is an electrifying experience is an understatement. This four-door luxury sports sedan takes all-electric performance to a new level with exhilarating acceleration that pins you to the seat, yet it can be docile enough to cruise leisurely down a lazy country road, when you choose to.
But engage launch control and hang on – the response is instantaneous! Just be sure you’ve got everything buttoned down in the cabin, including yourself, as the Taycan’s shocking ability to reach warp speed will smack you so hard you’ll think you’re driving a Top Fuel dragster.
The numbers are mind-blowing – zero to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds with the flagship Turbo S model and a top speed beyond 260 km/h. Yet all this hyper-performance comes with little fanfare. There’s no high-revving engine sounds, no jolting gear changes, no screeching tires, no roaring exhaust notes – just pure, quiet speed. Being an “old-school” type of guy, the near-silence is my only complaint. I still love hearing those sounds stirring my senses.
The Taycan achieves its awesome performance from a pair of electric motors – one driving the front wheels and the other sending its output through a two-speed transmission to the rear wheels. The result of this layout is an all-wheel drive system with full torque instantly available and up to 750 horsepower waiting to be released by the driver’s right foot. It’s the cutting edge of Porsche E-Performance and puts the Taycan among the most powerful production models in the Porsche lineup.
As one would expect from a vehicle wearing the Porsche badge, the Taycan has brakes and handling dynamics to match its over-the-top performance. In the interests of full transparency, I must confess I did check out the launch capabilities once or twice (maybe more) and was amazed at how swiftly the massive disc brakes hauled the car back down to more sane speeds. No fuss, just straight, controlled deceleration.
So, too, was the Taycan’s ability to take corners at speed. I was a bit brave attacking some sharp bends, but the car stayed flat and simply pulled through the corners with minimum protest from the tires or suspension.
A Personal Tutorial
When Porsche invited me to try out the 2021 Taycan, the model offered was a Taycan 4S, the base level (starting at $120,500). It arrived with just 34 kilometres on the odometer (and a final price tag of $155,950.) The folks at the local dealership (Porsche of London) arranged to give me a get-acquainted session with the car – and three hours later I had to interrupt the briefing to attend a previous appointment.
As I drove to that meeting in the 4S, I did have an opportunity to get an initial feel for the car and its amazing acceleration, braking and handling. Returning to the dealership, there were still some points my tutors, Brad McGonigle and Jamille Ekram, wanted to cover, including how to recharge the battery and introduce me to a newly installed Electrify Canada charging station.
Once that lesson was completed, McGonigle suggested I take an alternate route back to the dealership that included a stretch on a 400-series highway. I was encouraged to give the car a burst, which I willingly did. Suddenly the instrument panel flashed red and a message said the drive system had been disabled. We were able to roll silently to an off-ramp, where a flurry of phone calls to the dealership technical team failed to resolve the issue. “Never seen that before” seemed to be the common thread in those conversations.
I’m certainly no technical expert on Porsches – or anything else, for that matter – but I do know from experience that simply rebooting the system sometimes produces the desired result. With nothing to lose, we tried it on the Taycan – and it fired back to life!
After returning to the dealership, McGonigle said there was no way they wanted me going off again in that car until the issue had been pinpointed and resolved. However, he didn’t want to leave me stranded, either, so offered a substitute Taycan out of the showroom. Turns out the fill-in car was a Turbo S, the hottest Taycan in the lineup. So my experiences here have been based on the Turbo S – and I’m certainly not disappointed the 4S was sidelined, although its performance is stunning, too. The flagship Turbo S, however, was absolutely amazing.
It’s worth noting that after our issue with the 4S, Porsche has issued a recall to fix a software bug. I’m just glad I had witnesses when I “broke” the test car.
Regardless of the trim level, the Taycan’s cabin is beautifully appointed with ample room for four occupants. Access to the rear seat can be a bit challenging, due to the sleek, sloping roofline, but once inside the seating position is quite comfortable.
Likewise, the car’s low, aerodynamic profile doesn’t make entry or exit up front a graceful maneuver either, but once planted, the seat wraps around you, holding you steadfast during even the most aggressive driving experiences.
Every control is within easy reach, either through buttons on the steering wheel or through a 10.9-inch centre-mounted infotainment display. In front of the driver, there’s a 16.8-inch configurable instrument panel that provides all the data and other information to keep the pilot properly informed.
The driver can select on the fly one of four drive modes, from a docile setting called Range to the flat out Sport Plus, simply by activating a button.
A big issue that haunts prospective EV buyers is range, but Porsche has tackled it with a unique solution. The Taycan is the first production vehicle that employs an 800-volt system, double the voltage of other electric cars. The higher voltage enables the 93.4kWh battery to be recharged more quickly. Using direct current from a high-output charging station, Porsche says the battery can be recharged to provide up to 100 kilometres of driving range in just five minutes. To boost the battery back to an 80 percent state of charge takes about 23 minutes in ideal conditions.
The Taycan marks the start of a new era for the German carmaker that has been supplying the globe with high-performance sports cars for more than 70 years. Porsche is committed to investing six billion euros in developing electromobility by next year, with half of its vehicle portfolio electrified, either as plug-in hybrids or full battery electrics, by 2025.
If the Taycan is an indication of the direction Porsche is heading in this new era, the future of sporty performance vehicles is bright indeed.