If this is the future, I am all in.
The electric Porsche Taycan is enough to tempt the most ardent (non-ute-owning) petrolhead out of their planet killers.
First, an admission: this is the first Porsche I have ever driven. (I never claim to be a grizzled, experienced car reviewer. I’m just in it for the kicks and free petrol.)
The “entry-level” two-wheel-drive Taycan I get to borrow for a couple of too-short days changes my perception of what is possible with electric cars. It feels like driving something out of the original Tron movie.
Because it was a mid-week loaner, I couldn’t go on a trip up north of Auckland to my weekend haven, which is my preferred test route. And I expected the Taycan to be challenging in the city, but it was a surprisingly great city car, zipping in and out of lanes and accelerating when needed – or showing off.
Charging is still a niggle, although as electric cars gain traction, I predict this problem will disappear. I took the Taycan to the Victoria St Car Park in Auckland City, where ChargeNet has some powerful chargers. Two of the three were taken and the third was in a spot that required me to delicately wedge the $200,000 car between a wall, an Audi and a concrete pole.
It was a nerve-racking manoeuvre that became downright frustrating when I discovered the plugs did not fit the Porsche. So I gingerly extracted the Taycan and cautiously found a park. I am fairly sure that if I had not been overcome with the anxiety related to car-parking buildings and very expensive cars, I would have noticed the Taycan has two (yes, two) charging ports – one on each side of the bonnet. And, yes, the charging plug would have fitted.
But no worries, as Porsche had given me a fob for any ChargeNet station and the Eastridge Shopping Centre near my house has a 50kW charging unit that refills the battery while I pop in to New World for snacks.
Calling this car entry level is laughable. It is obviously a highly specced cutting-edge sports car. The test Taycan retails at $178,500 but is optioned up with adaptive air suspension ($4240), BOSE stereo ($2650) and larger 93.4kWh battery ($11,220), which takes the price to $199,240, including a few other extras.
The standard 79.2kWh battery is still plenty big enough. In comparison, the Mini Electric has a 32kWh battery.
A generous (relatively speaking) boot offers 407 litres of space at the rear and a bonus 84 litres up front.
For troubling kerbs or crappy roads, the air suspension has a lift button, which increases the car’s height. It is clever enough to remember the places you normally use airlift, and will automatically enable this when needed. On longer journeys, it will adjust vehicle height for the best compromise between efficiency and comfort.
The Performance Battery Plus model tested has a range of 484km, and power output of 280kW and 457Nm of torque, enabling it to get to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds. In the next generation or so, the battery life will improve to a point where range anxiety will become as irrelevant as debating VHS vs Betamax.
This beautiful piece of German engineering is just the base-model Taycan. Here’s how it lines up:
- Taycan: 0-100km in 5.4s; range 354-431km; $178,000.
- Taycan with Performance Battery Plus (as tested): 0-100km/h in 5.4s; range 407-484km; $189,720.
- Taycan 4S with Performance Battery: 0-100km/h in 4s; range 335-308km; $208,900.
- Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus: 0-100km/h in 4s; range 389-464km; $219,720.
- Taycan Turbo: 0-100km/h in 3.2s; range 383-452km; $297,000.
- Taycan Turbo S: 0-100km/h in 2.8s; range 390-416km; $373,400.
And, to do a full comparison, here’s the direct competition:
- Tesla Model S: 0-100km/h in 3.2s; range 652km; $159,990. Estimated delivery – end of 2022.
- Tesla Model S Plaid: 0-100km/h in 2.1s; range 628km; $224,900. Estimated delivery – end of 2022.
- Audi e-tron GT Quattro: 0-100km/h in 4.1s; range 487km; $194,500.
So, is the Taycan a Tesla killer? Maybe, and Porsche thinks so. If you Google “Tesla Model S Plaid”, the first thing you will see is an advert for the Taycan.
But to get anywhere near the Tesla specs, you need the Taycan Turbo S, which retails at $373,400 — more than double the price.
And this is where the rubber hits the tarmac in the ever-improving pissing match that is technical spec supremacy of top-end cars. The Taycan Turbo S simply cannot be $200,000 better than the base model. You gain a bit more unneeded power, and bragging rights.
For my money, the Taycan with Performance Battery Plus and air suspension is as much car as anyone will ever need.
And the other big advantage the Taycan has over the Model S is you can get one now – not at the end of next year. Porsche tell me they have “limited stock” in New Zealand to drive away today.
One final point, from the Porsche press release: The new rear-wheel-drive Taycan also holds the Guinness world record for the longest drift with an electric car sideways non-stop – exactly 42.171km.
Forty-two kilometres? Why? Once we get to cars that can do stunts like this, who could need anything better?