The Wire: Winter 2020 – Porsche launch first electric car – can the Taycan play that game?

(Estimated read time 5 minutes)

Porsche launch first electric car – can the Taycan play that game?

As part of diversifying our articles for The Wire, each quarter we are planning to include an update from an external provider. In this edition, we feature the Porsche Club of Great Britain’s review of the Taycan, Porsche’s first electric car.

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Just last month, the Prime Minister announced that new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030. As part of the government’s ‘green industrial revolution’ the UK will transition to electric vehicles within a decade, and £1.3bn has been set aside for investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

Top Gear say that EVs and PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) now account for one in seven of all the new cars sold. For some brands it’s higher – a quarter of the cars Mercedes sold in October were either EV or PHEV.

In 2020, Porsche became one of the latest manufacturers to launch their first fully electric car in the UK. Since its arrival, the Taycan has won two World Car of the Year awards, as well as around 40 international prizes. Considering this is the first proper production EV from a legacy manufacturer that puts performance first, it’s a big achievement.

But how good is the Taycan? The Porsche Club of Great Britain’s own Matt Master took a pre-lockdown drive to find out…

The Porsche of the future

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a Porsche, the Taycan promises unprecedented levels of repeatable performance and class-leading fast charging. Power in the Turbo on test here is equivalent to 680bhp with 0-62mph quoted at 3.2 seconds and 0-124mph in just 10.6 seconds. This from a car that weighs 2.3 tonnes – as much as a full-size Range Rover.

The more conceptual challenge Porsche also set itself was to make a four-door sports car, something that sat between the 911 and the larger Panamera. While the Taycan is smaller than the Panamera, its lower roofline and reduced frontal area also give it a decidedly sportier stance.

Inside, it’s a similar success. There’s enough room in the rear for adult passengers, and up front you’re transported into the Porsche of the future, with a heavy reliance on the vast 16.8-inch touchscreen and digital displays. 

Overall design and quality feels, as you would expect, top-notch. In another nod to the Taycan’s future-facing USP, this Turbo was optioned with a leather-free interior using surprisingly attractive, hard-wearing man-made fabrics that somehow sit better in these environmentally conscious surroundings.

‘Otherworldly’ performance

You start the Taycan with a power button no different to the one on your home computer. Do so, and it silently springs to life. Engage ‘Drive’ and the car creeps forward with an eagerness that seems at odds initially with the total absence of a soundtrack. The steering feels solid and precise and, at motorway speeds, it remains quiet and refined. 

Like the Tesla Model S that represents the only serious market rival, the Taycan’s acceleration is otherworldly. Even at a sensible cruising speed, an injudicious prod of the throttle will pin you to the headrest. In-gear grunt is such that you will need to forewarn passengers if you don’t want them wearing neck braces the following week. 

Even on more demanding B-roads, this remarkable car continues to live up to, and beyond, all expectations. 

After several years engineering out the problems inherent in SUVs, Porsche is well versed in mitigating excessive mass. Adaptive air suspension and Porsche’s ‘4D chassis control’ mean the Taycan feels easily half a tonne lighter than it actually is, which is an incredible achievement.

Absence of range is a drawback

So, what are the drawbacks? Well, there’s no getting around the absence of sound, but it is something you very quickly get used to.

The absence of range is something else that will take adjusting to. In real-world driving, expect around 200 miles, give or take. It’s fine for most journeys, but for many will negate the possibility of the Taycan being an only car.

As for charging, it can draw a hefty peak of 270 kWh from a fast charger, achieving an 80% charge in as little as 22 minutes. However, there aren’t many such stations in the UK at present and nor will there be for some time to come. For now, most Taycan owners will be charging at home overnight.

Cost is another consideration. The Taycan Turbo on test here is £115,858 basic, the all-singing Turbo S, meanwhile, another £23,000 for some inconsequential performance gains. In truth, the lesser 4S, at £83,367, is still plenty fast enough. Option the larger 93.4 kWh battery for £4,613 on top and you still have ample performance, equivalent range, and a hell of a lot of change.

‘Nothing on the market to touch it’

Whichever model you might opt for, can this massively heavy, whisper-quiet, four-door EV really be a true Porsche? 

Absolutely. It breaks new ground with innovation while staying true to core Porsche principles such as engineering integrity, driver involvement, and daily usability. It’s no 911, but with an extra 800kg to cart about, how could it be? As an EV, there is nothing on the market to touch it.

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