There’s more to the Porsche Taycan than meets the eye. Behind this futuristic design and electric prowess, you’ll find some of the most advanced technologies ever developed for an automobile, while still carrying Porsche’s traditional genes that ensure driving fun and performance.
We all saw it coming, and it was simply a matter of when, rather than if, sports car makers will ultimately succumb and join the electric herd. We saw the concept cars, the wild ideas, and the innovative designs, all aimed at giving us a glimpse at the future of the automobiles.
But when it was time to make that leap into the future, it was Porsche that took the plunge. The German manufacturer wanted to take the lead in the electric race (old habits die hard at Porsche!), and their contender was a completely new car. The Porsche Taycan.
Now there are two schools of thoughts on electric cars. Those who believe electric cars should just break with the old ways and look futuristic, while others believe keeping it simple, making sure it “feels” like any other car despite the cars’ electric engines is the way to go, to ensure the public accepts it as a natural evolution.
Porsche however, had other thoughts. It simply made a car that combines all the traditional traits a driver expects from a Porsche, with some of the most cutting-edge technologies ever seen on a vehicle, electric or conventional.
The design says it all. A few of years back, I had the chance to speak to Michael Mauer, Porsche’s head designer, and he mentioned something that kind of took me by surprise. “Porsche’s do not have a face”, he said. and by that, he meant that Porsches are not defined at the front by a unified look for the grille, as you’ll see in a Mercedes or a BMW, or a certain look for the headlights. Instead, its the way the front wings merge with the hood, the positioning of the headlights and the proportions are what give a Porsche its defined look. And the Taycan projects that perfectly.
Take a look at these headlights. Pretty cool you’d think. But there’s more to them than meets the eye. Those “air curtains” for example, while they contribute to the Taycan’s looks, are actually an integral part of the Porsche Active Aerodynamics, as they guide the air over the front wheel housings to reduce turbulent air that would otherwise create drag and resistance.
Being an electric car has its advantages when it comes to aero efficiency. With no driveshaft, exhaust tubes and gearbox housing, Porsche’s engineers could completely panel the underbody of the car, as even the suspension links are fully covered and equipped with air ducts. This also allowed Porsche to implement an extremely wide rear diffuser to reduce lift. This is achieved also by utilizing a rear spoiler that extends to three different positions, with the lowest possible drag for aero efficiency – the drag coefficient is 0.22, extremely low even by sports car standards – and the highest downforce on the rear axle when maximum grip is needed.
The air intakes are an integral part of the Taycan’s aerodynamics too. Far from being an aesthetic add-on, these intakes are individually controlled, and open and close as needed to supply air to the two radiators, as well as channeling cooling air to the brakes when necessary. Now regenerative braking systems are nothing new in electric cars, but Porsche takes this aspect to a whole new level.
The Taycan’s high recuperation output of up to 265 kW means that almost 90% of braking is actually done by the electric motors that charge the batteries during braking. Couple that with the huge brake disks that the Taycan is equipped with, and you’ll understand why Porsche recommends changing the brake pads every six years.
But all of that aerodynamics wizardry would amount to nothing if it’s not coupled with an efficient power unit. Luckily, Porsche have provided just that. In fact, it has equipped the Taycan with what is arguably the most technologically advanced electrical drive system on the market today. It consists of a battery pack and two electric motors, one on each fo the front and rear axles, to give the Taycan AWD capabilities.
Befitting a car that carries the Porsche emblem on its nose, these motors generate enough power to give the Taycan the type of performance you’d expect from a Porsche. In 4S guise, the Taycan’s electric motors generate 435 PS, rising to 530 PS in Launch Control mode, with 640 Nm of torque. Those figures rise rapidly as we shift to the Taycan Turbo, which produces up to 680 PS and 850 Nm of torque, while the top of the range Taycan Turbo S provides supercar-humbling figures of 761 PS and a monstrous 1,050 Nm of torque.
As you might imagine, these figures translate to rapid acceleration. No, make that very rapid acceleration. The Taycan Turbo S hits the 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, doubles that speed to 200 km/h in 9.6 seconds, and will cross the 400 meters mark in just 10.7 seconds. For the record, those numbers eclipse the performance figures of the new 911 Turbo!
Now rapid acceleration isn’t exactly a surprise in electric cars. It’s driving them hard, continuously accelerating and maintaining that performance is where the real trick is. Consistent rapid acceleration is usually one of the fastest ways to drain the batteries, but Porsche has addressed this challenge with some bits of clever engineering too, like the first-ever two-speed transmission featured on an EV.
Installed on the rear axle, the first gear ensures the best acceleration for the Taycan from a standing start, while the second gear, with a long gear ratio, ensures high efficiency and power reserves. This setup allows the Porsche Taycan to maintain its charge for longer periods of time, even when pushing the car hard. Porsche has tested the Taycan with back-to-back acceleration runs from 0-200 km/h for 26 consecutive times, with a difference of just 0.8 seconds between the fastest and slowest runs.
Those motors themselves are a piece of engineering art. As Porsche’s own press release states, “A special innovation in these electric motors is the “hairpin” winding of the stator coils, which makes it possible to incorporate more copper in the stator, increasing power output and torque while maintaining the same component volume”. In simple English, it means those electric motors provide the best ratio between the power generated and the space they take the car. Comparing to any electric powertrain on the market today.
That power is matched by the range the batteries provide. The Taycan Turbo S provides an estimated 412 kilometers of driving range, while the Turbo extends that to 450 kilometers. Opt for the Taycan 4S with the optional Performance Battery Plus, and you get 463 kilometers of range along with 571 PS. Unless you’re an active Uber driver, I believe these should suffice for anyone’s daily driving.
Porsche’s involvement in motorsport came in handy during the Taycan’s development. How? By utilizing the experience gained from the all-conquering Porsche 919 Hybrid, the car that took the overall win at the LeMans in 2015, 2016, and 2017, Porsche made the Taycan the first ever production vehicle to utilize a system voltage of 800 volts instead of the usual 400 volts for electric cars. To cut a long (and complicated) story short, it means that Taycan’s batteries can take up more electricity when being charged and translates to the batteries being able to be charged for a range of 100 kilometers in just over five minutes, and to go up from 5% charge to 80% in just 22.5 minutes.
Yet, for all this technology, the Taycan drives like any other Porsche. That means a sophisticated chassis, excellent dynamics, outstanding roadholding and breathtaking performance. Sit inside, and despite all the screens and gizmos, you know instantly you’re in a Porsche. The steering wheel is typical Porsche, the dials – though now on a screen – are reminiscent of what you’d find in a 911. The dashboard is not all that different than what you’d expect in a Panamera. And if that all fails to give it that Porsche feeling, the clock on top of the dashboard should do the trick. And of course, that interior is made of top-notch material, befitting an electric sporty luxury sedan in 2020.
It’s this unique combination of Porsche’s design traits, driving dynamics and cutting-edge technology that really sets the Taycan apart from other electric vehicles on the market. Some might boast higher power figures, and other longer range. But none would stand a chance against the Porsche Taycan as a modern, innovative, electric luxury sportscar. And these last three words sum up the Taycan perfectly. More importantly, it shows that Porsche’s innovations are still what set its cars apart from the competition.