(Pocket-lint) – When anyone says “Porsche” it’s hard to not conjure up visions of an iconic 911 skirting along a highway with a palm tree backdrop at sundown. While that car has long been synonymous with the German marque, increasingly it has been the company’s SUVs – the Cayenne and Macan – which have filled the roads and become, well, kind of normal.
But just because Porsche has its business head screwed on in catering for that family market section, doesn’t mean its true roots as a sports car maker have been buried. Far from it: for here we are, sat behind the wheel of the Porsche Taycan Turbo S – the company’s top-end all-electric sports car – and, well, it’s anything but normal. Indeed, it’s nothing short of phenomenal.
Although the car you’re looking at on this page is a few quid shy of £150,000 and, therefore, not an experience to which many will have the privilege, there’s no knocking the frankly bewildering technological achievement that it is. Electric is the future – and Porsche has made one serious statement with the Taycan.
A new vision in design
The Taycan is a real vision of new design from Porsche. It’s undoubtedly got the company’s DNA flowing through its veins, with tell-tale nods to classic design throughout, but it’s more adventurous and playful too.
While its got somewhat “sad eyes” headlights – with their lick of rockstar-like make-up in that black leading line – we think this brings a real distinction that sets the Taycan apart from its petrol-powered cousins. Besides, you’ll have nothing but a big smile once sat behind the wheel.
Inside, the Taycan has got some classic Porsche finishing touches such as the stitched leather, but the layout – much like the design, really – takes things into a new generation. There’s no stick to control the auto gearbox, for example, instead it’s a little R/N/D toggle just to the left side of the wheel – leaving the centre tunnel flatter and freer for a large touchscreen interface instead.
This touch-led approach continues elsewhere: just behind the wheel, flanking the driver’s display, are protruding touch areas at the edges of a 16.8-inch wrap-around screen, used to control a variety of drive details (from suspension ride height, to headlights, to traction control, and beyond).
The seats and much of the interior is finished in a two-tone leather, marrying “black and Bordeaux red” with matte carbon edging for a bit of extra flare. As a place to sit it’s also wonderfully comfortable, those seats firm – as you’d expect from a sports car – while being cushioned just enough. It’s not quite as cradling a feeling as, say, you’ll get from a Lexus LC500C, but those two cars aren’t exactly directly comparable anyway.
Don’t call it ‘a Tesla killer’
Because Tesla has been so long in the EV game, it’s become the automatic benchmark for all electric car comparison – sometimes rightly, sometimes lesser so. Tesla makes some great cars – but none are quite on the same level as the Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
That said, if it’s all-out speed that you want, there’s not a great deal between the Porsche Taycan Turbo S and a Tesla P100D. The former will officially run 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, the latter 2.4 seconds. Various independent tests put both a little quicker than that, too, which is interesting that the official figures are apparently conservative.
Either way, sat at the wheel of the Taycan Turbo S, foot firmly to the floor of that stainless steel accelerator, being able to launch your body to 60mph in under two-and-a-half-seconds is a ridiculous, giggle-enduing feeling. It’s not like it stops there either: it’ll make 100mph in 6.3 seconds, or hit 125mph in just 9.8 seconds. Which are various ways of saying that it’s absurdly fast and responsive.
It’s remarkably delicate when it wants to be though. Driving down a smooth motorway surface – on the M4, which is just a stone’s throw from Porsche’s UK headquarters – and 70mph feels like 30mph. It’s super quiet, poised and has this almost floating sensation about it. As a day to day car, therefore, you’d have no qualms in feeling as though you’re behind the wheel of a high-end saloon.
But turn the drive mode selector – a separate mini wheel on the steering wheel – to pop it into Sport mode and the brimming chaos that can unfurl is nothing short of breathtaking. The steering is sharp, the air suspension lowers the body to be more at one with the road, the way it adheres to the road is, as it’s meant to be, like a sports car. Which, at over two tonnes, sounds like an impossibility.
Except it does all this with relative whisper because, of course, it’s all all-electric car. There’s the (legally required) futuristic hum, or you can pop in a little extra artifical engine-like noise – but the latter really isn’t needed, because you shold embrace what this car is all about: the electric revolution.
What about the range?
Being an electric car at the forefront of this EV movement does mean, however, that the Taycan is dependent on today’s battery technology. That’s why it’s heavy as it is. That’s also why those cells, totalling 93.4kWh, will only provide around 250 miles per charge.
However, with just 5,000 miles on the clock of this Turbo S, even a 100 per cent charge was showing a sub-200-mile total range in our hands – and that was before even pulling away. So, while Porsche claims the Range mode, along with the highest regenerative mode selected, can cater for up to 293 miles for city driving, we think you’d be safer to think in terms of 200 maximum for mixed driving – so less than a Polestar 2.
But the Porsche is an electric sports car, so it’s got to be treated differently. It’s not a Nissan Leaf e+, where range is the whole object. And when the Honda e – which is designed to be a runabout – can only really muster about 100 or so miles total per charge, Porsche bringing twice that range and a zillion times* the performance is quite astonishing (*ok, so that figure’s not accurate, but that’s how it feels).
So will all that mean range anxiety? It’ll depend on what you’re doing. Besides, with super fast-charging possible up to 270kW, you can charge from near zero to over 80 per cent in just 22 minutes. So if you have to have a coffee stop while everyone admires your shiny new car then, well, it might make it worthwhile.
However, such 270kW-capable chargers aren’t especially common in the UK just yet. There’s some, with more being added all the time, but you’re more likely to end up at a 50kW charger – which will take over 90 minutes for the same 0-80 per cent recharge.
Interestingly the Taycan has two charging ports – one to each side towards the front of the car – which are opened by a proximity sensor and “floating swipe” action – which then sees the mechanical door move up and out the way. Even the darn charging port cover is more darn futuristic than its competition!
It’s clear the Taycan has one eye on the future. The little details give it away, such as the USB ports – there’s four, two front and two rear – being the small-scale USB-C type rather than full-scale (and older) USB-A. We’ve never seen that in a car before.
Available systems also provide lots of assistance and safety measures too. The all-around parking camera delivers a real-time top-down view of the car and its surroundings to make parking without incident all the easier. There’s lane keep assist, cruise control with auto-braking and collision avoidance, traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed. Basically it’s got your back thanks to such brains.
When you’re driving and adsorbing the gentler side of what the Taycan can deliver, plug in an iPhone for Apple CarPlay to take over the navigation system, connect Apple Music and so forth. There’s no Android Auto, however, so Android users will just have to focus on the thrills of driving instead.
Whether you’ll want to let the iPhone take over is up for question, however, as the Taycan’s navigation is mighty intelligent when it comes to routes and range – accurately predicting remaining charge and arrival time at your destination. Running low on battery? The car will let you know and advise a top-up by telling you where to go.
We’re glad the Taycan, much like its exterior design, keeps its interior tech setup streamlined and elegant. There aren’t unnecessary extra buttons and dials across the centre console of the car, while the touch areas to that wrap-around driver’s display are well integrated to be both practical and unobtrusive.
As you could probably tell from our introduction: the Porsche Taycan is a breathtaking vision of what an all-electric car can be. It’s unlike anything else on the road and is an incredible accomplishment in terms of design and drive.
Sure, it’s eye-wateringly expensive, but that’s because it’s an electric sports car. The four doors and four seats might make you think otherwise, but don’t let this welcome practicality fool you – it’ll only take a few seconds in the driving seat to be blown away by the Taycan’s blistering speed and poised handling.
A bit more range wouldn’t be amiss, and we’re still relatively early in the all-electric revolution, but if you like the idea of a sporty EV – and happen to have a spare six figures minimum knocking about, of course – then the Porsche Taycan Turbo S is as visionary as cars get.
Writing by Mike Lowe.