NIAGARA FALLS, ON – One of the year’s most anticipated vehicles made three simultaneous global debuts today; at a Berlin solar farm; a wind turbine farm in Shanghai; and in front of Canada’s spectacular Niagara Falls. The symbolism wasn’t lost on us.“The future is electric, whether you want it or not” declared Klaus Zellmer, head of Porsche North America. And the new Porsche Taycan is the poster child for parent company Volkswagen AG’s quest to become the world’s foremost manufacturer of battery-electric vehicles. It’s only the beginning – Porsche has invested more than six billion euros on electromobility, and by 2025, over 50 percent of the company’s portfolio will be either hybrid or full-electric.
The Taycan isn’t Porsche’s first foray into the all-electric realm. That honour belongs to the 1898 P1, a 3hp wooden carriage which was not only their first electric vehicle – it was the first Porsche ever built.
But the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer’s 70-year legacy is based primarily on producing the world’s finest motorsport cars. Therefore it was crucial that their first modern-day EV uphold their tradition of performance excellence, while also being the flag-bearing technical showcase for VW’s sustainable mobility.
Foreshadowed by the debut of the Mission E concept, the Taycan has been touted as the long-awaited Tesla-fighter, the contender that would finally knock the Model S off the premium BEV perch. Tesla’s held the monopoly on the premium EV segment with a following that verges on maniacal.
Price-wise, the Taycan steps in where Tesla leaves off, with a base Turbo starting at $173,900 and Turbo S at $213,900 – while the Tesla Model S tops out at $134,990 before options. The hypermiling eco-nerds will doubtlessly remain loyal to Elon Musk, smugly content that their Model S’s 560 km range is superior to the Taycan’s 450 km. On paper, the Model S has the price and range advantage, and its power output is comparable too. But Porsche is predicting that at least 50 percent of the Taycan’s customers will be new to the brand, and of those, the largest conquest will be Tesla owners. Already, the 10,000 models allocated to the North American market have been spoken for, and in addition to new early adopters those include 911 owners and long-time Porsche loyalists.
When cloth drops and you’re left with a literal backdrop of the jaw-dropping Niagara Falls, what you’re showcasing had better impress. And judging by the reactions of some 200 assembled North American media, the Taycan lived up to its billing.
Sleek as a water droplet, and projecting visual cues from both the Mission E concept and the Panamera Sedan, the Taycan made a stunning first impression. Low slung, muscular, with the coiled haunches and long, familiar nose, it’s a futuristic evolution of the company’s design language but still very obviously Porsche. Although its shorter length compromises interior length, the Taycan’s profile is a closer interpretation of the 911 design language than the Panamera ever was. Like all the current models, the
Taycan’s rear is defined by a wide, continuous light strip, but the Porsche name is outlined in electric blue. The stylized four-point LED headlights are housed in an epicanthic fold, sleek as a cat’s eye. It rides on the same 20” white-rimmed alloys as the Mission E concept shown in 2015.
The cockpit is clean and precise, with a driver-centric design that eschews traditional buttons for cleanly executed panels. A large center 10.9” touchscreen and optional passenger screen combine to create a virtual glass display that spans the width of the dash with intelligent touch and voice control. A free standing instrument cluster sits above the dash and behind the wheel – which is a traditional Porsche steering wheel, thick and grippy with the familiar sport mode button at the bottom. “Porsche will always have a steering wheel, it’s a driver’s car” said Klaus Zellmer, after describing the suite of autonomous driving technology that will arrive on the new Taycan. Aside from the several interior colour themes to choose from, there’s also an entirely non-leather, vegan option as well.
The new battery-electric all-wheel-drive powertrain has a permanent magnetic synchronous motor on each axle, with a single speed gearbox in front and a two-speed transmission in the rear whose short first gear ratio helps provide instant acceleration. Both the base Turbo, and Turbo S are equipped with the same 450 hp rear motor, and identical 175 kw front motors – but with a larger inverter on the Turbo S raising its output from 235hp to 255. Both cars have a normal output of 670 hp and 627 lb. ft of torque, but the Turbo S has an extra thrust that can temporarily boost that output to 751 horsepower and 774 lb. ft. of torque. That’s enough to propel the 2,295 kg sedan from 0-100/km in 2.8 seconds – and the Model S does it in 2.6.
However, Porsche’s legacy wasn’t forged on the drag strip, but on handling. The Taycan’s slippery shape is incredibly aerodynamic, and the base Turbo’s coefficient of 0.22 is the lowest in Porsche’s lineup. The 93.4 watt liquid cooled, lithium ion battery pack is mounted very low providing an inherently stable centre of gravity, and adds to the structural integrity of what Porsche describes as the stiffest chassis ever to underpin one of their vehicles. The low centre of gravity, wide track, variable all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring, rear-axle-steering (standard on Turbo S) and Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control active roll system which virtually eliminates any roll and enables the Taycan to corner very flat at high speed. Its official lap time of Germany’s famed Nurburgring is 7:42 – claiming the “fastest four-door, all-electric sports-car” record.
The Taycan is the first production car to debut with an 800 volt system rather than the 400 volt which is the norm for most electric cars. Using a public level 3 supercharger, the Taycan can receive up to 100 km of range and get you on your way in five minutes. It takes approximately 22 minutes to charge up to 80% (in ideal conditions). Porsche is working to develop a network of 32 fast-charge stations on the highway corridors across Canada, 19 Porsche Dealer centres will offer on-site charging, and qualified electricians to install home units.
Clearly Porsche isn’t going to win over EV buyers looking for an economical alternative to Tesla. But the Porsche brand name has never been one to undercut prices. Most of those who’ve already committed to buying one of those 11,000 early Taycans have done so because of the brand’s performance legacy, and the cachet of its racing heritage.
The Porsche Taycan Turbo S and Taycan Turbo are available for order, with prices starting at $213,900 and $173,900.