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Can Porsche Taycan overcome $73000 premium to rival Tesla Model S?

Taycan Turbo starts at $173,900 in Canada, and flagship Turbo S at $213,900

Published: September 6, 2019, 10:30 PM
Updated: September 13, 2019, 1:55 AM

Porsche Taycan

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario – The “soul” that has captivated and inspired lovers of Porsche sports cars for more than seven decades is getting an exhilarating charge. In a dramatic global reveal presentation, staged simultaneously in Germany, China and here, Porsche has unveiled its Taycan, its first all-electric sports car meant to rival the best Tesla puts on the road.

Porsche Taycan

The world got its first hint of the future Taycan four years ago when the Mission E concept car was shown at the Frankfurt auto show, but now this unique 4-door EV sports sedan is ready to impress as a production vehicle. Initially, the Taycan will be offered in two versions – the Taycan Turbo, starting at $173,900 in Canada, and the flagship Turbo S, starting at $213,900. (Note that the term “Turbo” is now used by Porsche to indicate all performance-oriented models, not just ones with turbocharged combustion engines.)

This is just the beginning of the brand’s EV endeavours. Porsche’s E-Performance lineup will expand with a less-powerful Taycan Cross Turismo, expected to make its debut late in 2020, as well as an electric Macan SUV.

Porsche Taycan

Oliver Blume, chairman of Porsche AG’s executive board, hails the introduction of the Taycan as “the start of a new era" for the iconic brand. “The Taycan links our heritage to the future. It carries forward the success story of our brand – a brand that has fascinated and thrilled people the world over for more than 70 years.”

As proof of Porsche’s commitment, the company is investing more than €6 billion (about $8.8 billion Canadian) in electrification development and production facilities. While it remains committed to the gas-fuelled engines in its product line, it sees plug-in hybrids and all-electrics as the powertrains of the future. In fact, it predicts 50% of its vehicles sales will be EVs by the mid-’20s

Porsche Taycan

Porsche says the all-wheel-drive Taycan is the most technically advanced vehicle it has ever produced. It is also among the most powerful production models the company is currently offering, with a top speed of 260 km/h. Drive power is supplied by a pair of highly efficient, permanent single-speed synchronous electric motors: one powering the front axle, the other driving the rear axle through an innovation 2-speed transmission. The unit’s first gear delivers stunning acceleration on launch, then the second gear’s longer ratio kicks in to ensure ultimate efficiency during high-speed and highway driving. The overall capacity of the Performance Battery Plus, installed under the rear seats, is 93.4 kWh.

The Taycan’s electric motor, transmission and pulse-controlled inverter are each combined into a compact drive module. The modules have the highest power density (kW per litre of package space) of all EV powertrains on the market today. A special feature of the electric motors is the “hairpin” winding of the stator coils. This technology makes it possible to incorporate more copper in the stator, increasing power output and torque while maintaining the same component volume.

Porsche Taycan

The Taycan Turbo’s drive system generates 616 horsepower (460 kWh) and 630 lb-ft of torque but can boost that output to up to 670 hp (500 kWh) by engaging launch control, enabling it to sprint to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. The Taycan Turbo S also produces 616 hp but can crank out 750 hp (560 kWh) of overboost and 774 lb-ft of torque with the use of launch control. The Turbo S can accelerate to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds – and reach 200 km/h in 9.8 seconds. Porsche says the Turbo S can clock a quarter-mile time of 11.1 seconds, while the Turbo takes 10.8 seconds. Porsche also says the Taycan is capable of doing about a dozen consecutive flat-out quarter-mile sprints before needing recharging.

The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 volts, double the typical system voltage of 400 volts used in other electric cars. A key advantage of the 800-volt system is that the battery pack can be recharged using direct current in just over five minutes for a range of up to 100 km. Charging time for a 5% to 80% charge takes 22.5 minutes under ideal conditions. Porsche says the vehicle’s range is up to 450 km on a full charge. In testing, the Taycan went 3,400 km in 24 hours. The Taycan can also be recharged up to 9.6 kWh by using an alternating current charger at home, where Porsche says its research has found 90% of EV charging occurs.

Porsche Taycan

While the source of driving power is a bold departure from its predecessors, the Taycan is definitely a real Porsche. The designers were charged with creating a new iconic model while staying true to the Porsche design heritage – and this production model proves they succeeded. It’s great looking, with a stance that makes the Taycan look like it’s glued to the road.

The exterior styling reflects the distinctive 911-like look with a wide, flat nose, while the roofline, sloping downward to the rear, is similar to the Panamera. The clean, aerodynamic lines that define any Porsche are maintained in this new model, which has a sleek drag co-efficient of 0.22. Overall, the Taycan is a bit smaller than the Panamera, while seemingly about as wide as a 911.

Porsche Taycan

The interior features a clean, uncluttered design, highlighted by a freestanding curved instrument cluster. The infotainment system is all-new with a central, 10.9-inch display that’s integrated into a black glass band. Trimmings can be ordered that range from complete leather to non-leather materials, all of the highest standards demanded by Porsche owners.

Porsche says the Taycan’s dynamic characteristics rival any of its sports car siblings as well, despite its Cayenne-like weight of 2,305 kg (2,295 for the Turbo S.) Part of the credit for its handling capabilities is the result of the placement of the battery pack, which is tucked low in the chassis, thereby lowering the centre of gravity. In fact, the Taycan has the lowest centre of gravity of any Porsche ever built. The design of the battery pack also results in a flat floor in the cabin.  

Porsche Taycan

A 3-chamber air suspension system that contributes to ride comfort (and can also lower the car by about 22 mm to improve high-speed aerodynamic efficiency) is used on all four corners of the Taycan’s chassis. It’s controlled by a centrally networked system that analyzes and synchronizes, in real time, all chassis systems, including the adaptive air suspension, electronic damper control, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport electromechanical roll stabilization system and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus.

The Taycan’s massive brakes look more than capable but may not get much use. Porsche says its testing has shown that approximately 90% of everyday braking is performed by the electric motors, without engaging the hydraulic system. The brakes do play a significant role as a regenerative feature, providing up to 265 kWh of potential recuperation power – which is significantly higher than competitive vehicles.

Porsche Taycan

The Porsche Taycan is now available to order, with the vehicles expected to arrive in Canadian dealers’ showrooms late this fall or early in 2020. Whether it can put a dent in Tesla Model S sales remains to be seen, but at a price that is 50% to 100% higher, it will likely mostly appeal to Porsche owners looking to be more environment-conscious.