I just spent three hours with the sports car of the future. Meet the Taycan.
There is noise here. It may not be an engine howl, but there’s more to this soundtrack than rolling tyres and the clicks and pongs of a digital predator. I coast up to within 50 metres or so of a large truck and remember the warning I was given ahead of my drive. When overtaking, don’t start accelerating and then swerve out to pass. You’ll immediately merge with the back bumper of the vehicle ahead. Over a thousand newton metres of torque will see to it. So instead, I gently steer the wheels right before giving the right pedal a nudge. A moment and many whooshing noises later that same truck was relegated to a speck in my rearview mirrors. The back of my head and the leathery headrest begin to separate. What the hell was that?
A poor attempt at a history lesson
When it comes to making desirable motorcars, Porsche has been at it for over seventy years. Mostly innovating, and often at the cutting edge when it comes to creating timelessly styled cars that can go quickly. Pre-dating Porsche the company, the man himself – Ferdinand Porsche had a history with electricity and electric cars originating at the dawn of the 19th century. So there’s something of a lineage as the marque rounds out their three-pronged approach to powering their cars. That’s typical combustion motors ala petrol and diesel, hybrid and now fully electric with the Taycan.
But what is it?
It’s pronounced ‘Tie Kahn’, like a Star Trek villain. Not ‘Taken’. This isn’t a Liam Neeson vehicle. It’s an electric vehicle. A very rapid and clever one. As for its looks, I’ve always considered it as a futuristic Panamera – but that was when viewed on the internet. In the metal, yes it still feels like that, only more compact, more finely distilled, but retaining those classic wings and swollen hips. Its styling has in fact been somewhat divisive, but if we’re honest – this happens each time Porsche makes a car that doesn’t look like a 911. This is something else.
Look and Feel
It features a weeping monk visage, very little by way of flat surfaces and in terms of jewelry there are ‘four-point’ LED lamps and a horizontal light bar at the rear embedded with 3D glass logos. The cabin gets the reduced buttonry look. So, many screens, black panels and haptic touch points and now your car will even respond to a ‘hey Porsche’ from its driver. Which is cute. The rotary controller on the helm now adds a Range mode to one of its toggles to join the likes of Sport and Sport+. I used it like, once. I mean, its fancy – they use olive leaves in their leatherette treatment process and there’s this and that that’s been recycled from fishnets. Is that what you’re into? No. You want to know about the electric part. And the boogaloo too.
Numbers and things
With the Taycan, Porsche has properly injected electricity into its DNA with nothing less than a four-door supercar EV. It’s the first EV to feature a two-speed transmission and also is one that wholly defies its 2.3 ton curb weight thanks to some serious engineering in the suspension department, as well as smartly distributing its weight and power. And when I say smartly distributing weight, just know that I’m also talking about something Porsche like to call a ‘Foot Garage’. Which is frankly the best possible name for what is essentially a bit of the battery-floorpan that has been cleared for you to park your size tens – all in the pursuit of that Porsche driving position. I’m in the Taycan Turbo S – where the word ‘turbo’ is used ironically? As a joke? A lie? All of the above? Perhaps, but think of the badge as an indicator of where it falls within its range. That is, at the tippy-top when combined with the S badge. It sits above the 4S – and their price points reflect this. That means R2,586,000 for the 4S, R3,426,000 for the Turbo and R4,027,000 for the Turbo S. Reality check – the car I’m driving costs R4mil. Ok, let’s continue. With the Taycan “How does it go?” doesn’t just refer to the performance but also the manner in which it is powered. Whichever model you choose they all feature the same pulse controller inverter on the front axle, a high voltage battery, PMSM (permanent magnet synchronous motors) on both axles and rear axle steer. The Taycan also boasts three-chamber air suspension and dynamic chassis control for a truly engaging chassis that has an answer to the most important question, “what the hell do I do with all this torque?” In our 200km plus round trip along some of the Cape’s bendiest asphalt, the Taycan never felt flustered and nor did I. Good. Because on the straight bits, it was bloody terrifying. They also feature a 800 volt charging system, class-leading by 200% but sadly, 400v is as good as Mzani’s infrastructure will allow. As it stands, it will take 4.5 hours to fully charge at home. With that out of the way – lets focus on the bit that has been haunting me since last Friday. Performance. The Taycan Turbo S can sprint from 0-100kph in just 2.8 seconds, when helped along by its physics-defying launch control system. With overboost, there is 560kw of power to deploy here, where the regular turbo has ‘just’ 460kW. It will top out at 260kph eventually, thanks in part to a super slippery 0.22 drag coefficiency. Switch it into Range where your top speed is limited to 110kph however, and Porsche insist you’ll manage 463km. Not on my watch.
Should you get one?
Look, the base Taycan 4S will perform the above task of 0-100kph in 4.0 seconds, and can do 200kph in 12.9. The Turbo will do them in 3.2 and 10.6 seconds respectively. The Taycan Turbo S we’ve already covered but in a game of Top Trumps, just know that it will do 200kph in just 9.8. They’re all card-carrying high-performance saloons but their ultimate party trick will always be the fact that they’re electric. They’re not burning fossil fuels, well not directly. I imagine that if most of your week’s driving was to the office and golf club (whatever you’re into really) and back – with weekends reserved for some very spirited driving, all the while turning heads and making whooshing noises as go. And on that latter point, Porsche would like it to be known that the sporty electric sounds coming from the Taycan are enhanced. Not augmented. Which I think means it’s just make-up, not plastic surgery. I think. Could you take it on an intra-provincial trip on one charge? It depends on how big your province is, I guess. After doing 200km+ at shall we say, the upper limits – the remaining charge was good for a 50km range. Oh wait – I haven’t answered the question. Yes. You should get one. If you have deep pockets, are an early adopter of newish technology and/or don’t feel the need to shout about your wealth with a brash exotic, the Porsche Taycan is the thinking man’s humble flex. None so more than the Turbo S.
Quick Stats: Porsche Taycan
Price: R2,586,000 for the 4S/R3,426,000 for the Turbo/ R4,027,000 for the Turbo S
Porsche Taycan Turbo S spec:
Powertrain: electric-magic, AWD, 560kW, 1050Nm, 2-speed auto
Performance: 0-100kph in 2.8 seconds, 260kph top speed