When considering that Porsche has never done things by convention, states long-time fan Iain Robertson, you can comprehend that its all-electric Taycan offering is likely to break new ground, which it does with consummate eco-conscious ease.
Loving irony helps…when Ferdinand Porsche lost his potential WW2 contract to produce a tank to Henschel’s Tiger project, he turned his hand to manufacturing a tank destroyer instead. Ever the renegade, always the clever businessman, ‘Ferry’ Porsche was the first chairman of the VW company, which produced the KdF-wagen, a forerunner to the ubiquitous Beetle. He ‘lost’ his role, at the end of WW2, when the British took over control at the Wolfsburg factory. In fact, the Porsche family name never appeared on a car until the first Porsche 356 of the early-1950s.
Using a lot of VW-sourced components in the early years, the company soon developed its own manufacturing facilities and the 356 model continued to be produced until the mid-1960s, in Stuttgart, The first 911 model was launched in late-1964, with a new, air-cooled ‘boxer’, flat-six configured engine propelling it. The new car set a sportscar standard that continues in much-advanced and favoured form today. However, the range has grown to encompass smaller 718 (Boxster) mid-engined models and a range of VW-related SUVs, all of which are eminently desirable, because of their technological developments.
As a design centric operation, Porsche is renowned for working with all manner of companies, from sunglasses’ manufacturers to domestic products, like toasters and kettles. However, its core engineering services, although almost totally dedicated to the rest of the VW Group, are available and have been engaged by other carmakers seeking to dig into Porsche’s enterprise and talents. Although staunchly independent for many years, the links to VW have never been tenuous. Even Mr Porsche’s nephew, Ferdinand Piech (who passed away only recently), had spent time as chairman of the VW Group. As a financially secure company, it has only had a handful of shaky periods during its existence, the last time remedied by expanding production into the SUV arena. Now, Porsche is trying to become an inspirational force in the electrified scene. I would not bet against its success.
Even though it is a wholly owned brand within the broader VW Group, Porsche must stand on its own merits. Even minor upgrades need to be costed out carefully and entirely new models need to satisfy case parameters set by both its parent company and its own management structure. Having worked extensively and expensively (Euros 6bn) on its electrification programme, the 2,295kgs Taycan is the most advanced EV on sale today.
Featuring four-wheel drive, thanks to an innovative electric motor on each axle, the drive modules have THE highest power density of any EV currently on sale. It needs to be stated that Tesla has been the primary motivator in the high-performance EV sector to date and Porsche was determined to beat it at its own game. However, the Taycan also features (uniquely) a two-speed transmission, also a first; with the lower ratio providing punchier acceleration and the longer ratio providing both high efficiency and higher power reserves. The electronic brake energy recovery system is so advanced that 90% of all braking is carried out, without resorting to the conventional all-disc system. What this implies in terms of brake servicing in the future remains to be considered but Porsche is determined to make its EV the most sustainable of any, as you will read below. Two Taycan models are available, Turbo and Turbo S, with the Cross Turismo (SUV) version due by the end of 2020.
As a technological tour de force, the figures tell only part of the story: on tap is up to 755bhp (Turbo: 675bhp), with zero CO2 emissions, covering the 0-60mph sprint in a blistering 2.5s (Turbo: 2.9s), with a 260 miles range (Turbo: 296 miles) and a top speed for both models of 164mph. As the first production car possessing a system voltage of 800v, rather than the more customary 400v, Taycan drivers can DC recharge the battery packs for just over 60 miles in a mere 5 minutes, less than the average coffee-stop. An 80% recharge at a public access point takes just 22.5 minutes. Of course, the Taycan can also be fully charged domestically and the necessary cables are provided with the car.
Unmistakable styling cues abound around the Taycan, with both the side window lines, the contoured front wings and the slope of the tailgate being recognisably reverent nods to Porsche’s past. Yet, the aerodynamic door handles and the muscularity of the overall outline, which contribute to its wind cheating Cd value of just 0.22, are purpose designed to maximise the overall efficiency of the Taycan by helping it to cleave through still air and extend its usable mileage.
Yet, the innovations keep coming, most notably in the cockpit, where leather is no longer an option, replaced by a new, breathable, synthetic fabric produced from a cocktail of recycled plastics and other fibrous mass. Porsche reckons that eco-awareness needs to extend to other forms of life too. Footwells are carved carefully into the battery-laden floor-pan, to provide space and easier access to all seating, while an 81-litre front boot supplements the 366-litres capacity at the opposite end. Taycan practicality is first-class, make no mistake.
Air-suspended by adaptive and semi-active means, electromechanical roll stabilisation is also incorporated, with a torque vectoring system that provides the Taycan with exceptional levels of traction and handling agility. Grip levels are also very high, aided by very low centre of gravity. Four driver selectable driving modes, Range, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus, are available that can be tailored to specific driver’s needs, when using the additional Individual setting.
As a total tech-fest, the stunning Porsche Taycan is currently unbeatable. Despite its hard-to-disguise battery mass weight penalty, it feels almost as wieldy and flexible as any model in the rest of the Porsche line-up. It is price listed from £115,858, with business lease rates at a similar competitive level to those of Tesla.