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2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S | UK Review

Away from the careful orchestration of a car launch, what is the Β£150k Porsche EV actually like?

By Matt Bird / Friday, March 27, 2020

Typically a manufacturer's launch route for a car, especially an electric car, will follow a carefully plotted course months in the planning. Certain aspects will come to the fore here, others there, electricity will be topped up at this point, yes there'll be food here but don't be late back to there - you get the idea.

For the UK drive of the Taycan - arguably the most significant new Porsche in a decade and a half - the situation was far from typical for obvious reasons. So the key to YZZ was ours (in a plastic bag) for an afternoon starting at Porsche GB in Reading, with specific instruction to... well, do whatever really. Drive any route you like, don't worry about charging it, there's hand sanitiser in the cupholder and see you in a few hours.

So we did as instructed: mooching around towns and cruising down the M4, blasting some of our favourite Berkshire B-roads and loping along A-roads. While not an exhaustive assessment - because there's still only so much that can be achieved in three hours - it was adequate time to consider Porsche's EV away from the background noise of launch hype and expectation.

Externally, the Taycan manages to be both quite unlike anything else and yet also recognisably a Porsche - which is quite the trick to pull off. The inside follows suit; there's a Porsche steering wheel, Porsche fonts and Porsche logos on the screen, but a haptic feedback section, touch controls around the dials and new readouts never before seen in a Stuttgart sports car as well. Plus a superb driving position; the batteries prevent the seat going right to the floor but, ensconced by the cabin with the wheel out to your chest, it feels as good as could reasonably be expected.

The point of revisiting all this is to emphasise how well the Taycan integrates usability with a show car-level wow factor. It feels really special as well as instantly familiar, which is a neat balancing act as well as an attractive selling point to existing customers intrigued by the prospect of a Porsche EV. One likely to cost them a six-figure sum in any configuration.

The sense of familiarity continues on the road. Again, this isn't to sell the Taycan short - rather that the endless engineering hours spent on accelerator calibration, brake feel and steering response have all yielded results, because there's just-about-sufficient Porsche weight and resistance to mark them out. Nic called the Taycan "underwhelming" at low speed on the international launch, which feels a little harsh given a lot of modern Porsches are typically inoffensive at regular pace - though it's clear that the job for manufacturers of distinguishing their EV offering from the rest is going to be extremely tough with similar powertrains all located in the same place.

Nevertheless, it only takes one slip road to feel how different the Taycan is to any other Porsche, the immediacy and violence of the acceleration enough to make a GT3 seem almost torpid by comparison. Without a build-up of power or any noise (beyond the quite likeable Electric Sport Sound, if it's on), the speedo becomes pretty vital in avoiding serious trouble; Porsche says 49-74mph takes 1.7 seconds, which is eminently believable. This is a large saloon capable of 0-124mph within half a second of a Huracan, without noise or gearchanges or any real way of gauging speed beyond the gradual tailing off of acceleration and the number on that screen in front. Good job it's super clear and crisp, then...

The Taycan would be a superb place to spend 200 or so motorway miles between charges. Obviously there's the prodigious overtaking ability, but combined with the serenity of relative silence - wind and tyre noise pretty well suppressed as well - it becomes a four-wheeled oasis of calm. Is doing 200 motorway miles between charges sufficient? Personally, it absolutely is, because much more than 100 without a coffee, more confectionary or another wee sounds like lunacy. But it is strange for Porsche not to have pushed for a class-leading figure as far as range goes.

That said, if the Taycan makes something like a Panamera feel a bit old hat on the motorway, it's nothing compared to its performance on minor roads. Because it defies all rational expectation. Picture in your mind how a car of this size (5m long, 2.1m wide) and this weight (2,295kg before anyone is in) should drive, even one from Porsche - and the Taycan does it better. It turns more immediately, grips harder, deals with imperfections better, pulls more traction from the road. By getting so much of the mass low and centralised, there seems to be no inertia to the Taycan's movements, ably assisted by the immediacy of the electric power. There's no hint of dynamic slack in a car that weighs as much as a Range Rover.

What's really worth noting, however, is that there's some enjoyment to be taken from the process as well. The brake feel is as good as we've come to expect from Porsche, somehow combining the ceramic discs and recuperation capacity into a firm, consistent, predictable travel. The precision of the pedal next to it means those enormous reserves of power and torque aren't overwhelming, and the accuracy of their response (along with the steering) means it's a more immersive and less binary dynamic experience than you might imagine for a large electric saloon. That it powers away from bends with that natural, intuitive, rear-driven feel is also encouraging. Some have suggested that perhaps the torque vectoring capabilities could act more dramatically, which is understandable in something Porsche-badged. On the other hand, you'll never convince the mass audience of EV viability by creating a GT-R-style experience at this money; the Taycan feels very well sorted, incredibly so in fact - in a conventional manner.

For the Turbo S, rear-wheel steering, adaptive air suspension and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus are standard. Sport Chrono means the usual Porsche modes - Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual - are there on the steering wheel, along with a new 'Range' setting to eke out the last few miles as required. As you're probably aware, only Sport and Sport Plus introduce some regenerative braking, with one or two criticisms raised already that a level beyond the Taycan's modest contribution (even in those modes) might be worthwhile. It probably comes down to personal preference, and wanting to preserve a 'normal' feel for those new to EVs. On this experience, without having to choose gears or gauge speed from noise, and with such finely-honed pedals, it's actually nice to have something additional to do.

A car this big and fast needs a lot of slowing down, too. On a related note, so exceptionally calm is the ride quality - eliminating the float that can come with air set ups and yet never punishing - it can be left in Sport Plus without any concern. That the Taycan is able to be both accommodating for passengers and so dynamically assured, even in Normal mode, is a mighty feat. Everything about the Porsche EV comes across as really well executed - it requires no acclimatisation, no excuses, no second chance at anything. The Taycan simply does everything that would be required of a car, to a standard higher than very many others. It just so happens to be electric.

That even extends to range. It showed an estimated 198 miles on leaving Porsche Reading; not loads, sure, but it's hard to imagine many super saloons showing much more than that if they've been driven hard and then filled up. We drove it for 115 miles across three hours, averaging 38mph and 45.2kWh of energy use in that time. The drive included constant motorway speed, acceleration between bends, slowing for them, one or two launches and pootling in traffic. Back at Porsche it showed... 115 miles less than we started on. The Turbo S range doesn't suddenly plummet on more enthusiastic use, or read overoptimistically when the going is more gentle; what you see there is what the car is going to cover. Quite frankly, those who need to cover larger distances than the Taycan in less time will still be better served by a big diesel.

Those that do not have to cover 300 miles in one hit - which must be most of us - will be amply served by the Taycan. Overwhelmed, in fact, by the sheer breadth of capability the car possesses, answering a lot of the queries customers will have about Porsche electric vehicles in a resoundingly positive manner. Once the UK extends its public charging network, 200 miles of charge will be 20 minutes away. But even ahead of that moment, the Taycan's unimpeachable quality and Porsche styling ensure that it never feels anything less than a £150,000 product. Nor does it feel like a distant relative of the sports car family either, it feels like a Porsche.

And yet doubts remain. They have to, because very seldom is a car perfect out of the box. Such an enormous kerb weight is still irksome, even allowing for its inevitability given the current technology. That a car this large isn't actually all that accommodating for four rankles too, probably due to the same cause. And, er, well - there's the fact that most of the nation can't afford one.

Objectively speaking, it would be difficult to make the list any longer than that. With some planning - and probably less than you might think - it would be a pleasure to use a Taycan for tens of thousands of miles a year. It would be comfortable, fast, cheap to run, extraordinarily capable and a lovely device to use. The problem Porsche has, even allowing for the fact that it has comprehensively nailed the brief here, is the problem that all the manufacturers are going to have - which is how on earth to replicate (or replace) the joy and sense of connection that's exists with a combustion engine. Because the fact is a Mercedes-AMG E63 raises more of a smile at idle than a Taycan does during most driving. For the vast majority of buyers, that simply won't be a concern - because the car is new, cool, and exceptionally good. For those who still derive some joy from driving, however, they might find the new Porsche, and potentially many more new cars in fact, very easy to appreciate, but very much harder to love.


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE TAYCAN TURBO S
Engine:
Permanently excited electric motor, one per axle
Transmission: Single-speed (front) twin-speed (rear), all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 761 (launch control overboost, otherwise 625)
Torque (lb ft): 774 (launch control maximum)
0-62mph: 2.8sec
Top speed: 161mph
Weight: 2,295kg (DIN)
MPG: N/A (257-mile range)
CO2: 0g/km
Price: £138,826 (as standard; price as tested £149,241 comprised of Electric folding exterior mirrors for £210.00 Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) for £2,315.00, Wheels painted in Jet Black Metallic for £842.00, Thermally and noise insulated glass including privacy glass for £1,301.00, ParkAssist including Surround View for £1,002.00, Night Vision Assist for £1,566.00, Lane Change Assist for £548.00, Ambient lighting for £299.00, Side airbags in rear compartment for £291.00, Heated steering wheel (i.c.w. Sport Chrono Package and Leather Interior) for £189.00, Advanced climate control (4-zone) for £581.00, 150kW DC on-board booster for £294.00, Mobile Charger Connect for £767.00 and Public charging cable (Type 2) for £210.00

 

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