Legacy automakers have been content to challenge Tesla's all-electric dominance with a range of crossovers. But while the Audi E-Tron, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and Jaguar I-Pace are fine EVs, they also feel more like proofs of concept; ticking the basic boxes while falling well short of the range and performance standards set by Tesla.
The 2020 Porsche Taycan isn't so much a proof of concept as it is the first proper broadside against Tesla from a legacy automaker. Here's everything you could possibly want to know.
Porsche is taking a different approach with the 2020 Taycan’s launch, introducing two high-performance variants first, with less potent, more affordable models coming later this year (and a Taycan Cross Turismo arriving late in 2020). While the first two models might ruffle some feathers with their respective names, we can promise that the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are wholly worthy of one of Porsche's longest-running, most important badges, because they are impressively powerful and neck-snapping quick.
Both variants feature a pair of electric motors that, together, produce 616 bhp. But in terms of maximum output (especially with the standard launch control system engaged), the Turbo and Turbo S radically diverge. Engage the max propulsion setting in the “base” car and the available 627 pound-feet of torque mingles with an overboosted 671 bhp to launch the Taycan Turbo to 60 miles per hour in 3.0 seconds, 62 in 3.2 seconds, 124 in 10.6 seconds, and past the quarter mile just 11.1 seconds after it set off. That’s quick, but the Turbo S is much quicker.
With Launch Control engaged, the twin electric motors in the most powerful Taycan up the output from 616 bhp to 751 bhp. That matches nicely with the always available 774 lb-ft of torque and scoots the Turbo S to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, 62 in 2.8 seconds, 124 in 9.8 seconds, and across the quarter mile mark in 10.8 seconds. It also performs well on aircraft carriers.
Both cars carry a 93.4-kilowatt-hour, high-voltage lithium-ion battery that packs enough electrons to allow the Taycan Turbo to cover 237 to 280 miles on the WLTP scale. The more-powerful Turbo S will do 241 to 256 miles. As for charging, both cars use an 800-volt electrical architecture that allows a maximum charge rate of 270 kilowatts. That's fast enough to take the battery from five to 80 percent in just 22.5 minutes.
Prices start at £115,858 for the Turbo and £138,826 for the Turbo S with sales slated for January 2020.
As this is a lot of numbers, here's a handy table breaking down the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S' vitals:
|Taycan Turbo||Taycan Turbo S|
|Horsepower||616 bhp (671 bhp w/overboost)||616 bhp (751 bhp w/overboost)|
|Torque||627 pound-feet||774 pound-feet|
|0-60 (w/Launch Control)||3.0 seconds||2.6 seconds|
|0-124 (w/Launch Control)||10.6 seconds||9.8 seconds|
|Top Speed||161 mph||161 mph|
|Range (WLTP)||237-280 miles||241-256 miles|
|Recharge Time (Minimum)||22.5 minutes||22.5 minutes|
Read on for a deep dive into the Taycan's technical side.
The Taycan follows a familiar layout for electric vehicles with one motor at each axle. Porsche uses permanent-magnet synchronous motors, which feature permanent magnets between the rotor and stators. This makes the electric motors for the Taycan more expensive, but the tradeoff is a smaller, lighter, and more efficient design.
The front electric motor weighs just 76 kilograms in the Turbo S and 71 kg in the Turbo, yet it produces 255 bhp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the former and 235 bhp and 221 lb-ft in the latter. With launch control engaged, torque output from the front electric motor increases to 325 lb-ft in the Turbo S. On the back axle, a 170-kg electric motor packs 449 bhp and 406 lb-ft of torque, although again, launch control boosts the Turbo S's output at the rear to 450 lb-ft of twist.
The impressive performance of these twin electric motors is partially due to the fact Porsche simply stuffed the stators' solenoid coils with loads of copper. Using hairpin winding, a tricky and boring to explain (even here) coiling technique called hairpin winding, engineers in Stuttgart increased the copper fill factor from 45 percent to 70 percent. That helps with output, but much like the permanent-magnet setup, the design also makes keeping the electric motors cool less of a challenge. Cool electric motors mean performance consistency.
Porsche made repeatable performance a key tenet for the Taycan.
Following multiple reports of overheating problems with Tesla's powertrain components, Porsche made repeatable performance a key tenet for the Taycan. That's why it sent the car to the enormous bowl at Nardo for a high-speed, 24-hour-long run that saw six test drivers cover over 2,100 miles. The automaker also completed 26 back-to-back runs that saw the EV go from zero to 124 mph in under 10 seconds with a mere second gap between first and last acceleration (we do wonder what happened on run 27, or if Porsche just called the job good enough and went home). The Taycan also set a record at the Nürburgring.
The efforts at repeatability yield an interesting approach to the Taycan's transmission. Or, should we say transmissions. There are two. Porsche integrated a single-speed setup into the front axle's motor and a two-speed gearbox into the rear motor.
The 16-kg front transmission is a small thing for transmitting power to the front wheels. The two-speed at the back is the more important gearbox, with first gear coming into play when the driver wants acceleration. The second, taller gear is there for cruising. Which gear the Taycan uses isn't only dependent on the driver's accelerator input, but on which of the five driving modes is engaged.
In electron-friendly Range mode, the two-speed relies on the more efficient second gear as much as possible, while the Taycan cuts the front engine out of proceedings entirely. Normal mode “prioritises” second gear, according to Porsche, but will reach for first gear if the driver applies enough pressure to the right pedal. Sport mode will use first gear up to between 55 and 62 mph and the car will upshift earlier if the driver eases off the accelerator or swap cogs later if they keep their foot in it.
Of course, the electric motors can't do much without energy from the battery pack. Both the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S carry an LG-sourced 93.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the floor. What sets the Porsche apart, though, is the 800-volt architecture it relies on. The Taycan is the first production electric car to run on such a system.
It's best to think of this architecture as future proofing that, for now, allows a 270-kw charging rate. In the future, though, 800 volts is key to even faster charge rates, with Porsche telling Motor1.com that between 400 and 500 kW is eventually possible. There is a downside, of course, but it's relatively short term.
The biggest is that chargers capable of 270 kW are rarer than hen's teeth. But if you do stumble across one, it could take the Taycan from five to 80 percent charge in as little as 22.5 minutes. Put another way, five minutes at 270 kW yields 60 miles of range. In the likely event that you can't find a charger with that capacity, the Taycan can go from five to 80 percent charge in 36 minutes on a 150-kW DC fast charger, while recharging at a 240-volt plug at a 9.6-kW charge rate takes 11 hours.
It's best to think of this 800-volt architecture as future proofing.
Now that we've talked about how the Taycan charges, let's talk about how it charges. During the first three years of ownership, Taycan drivers have subscription access to the Porsche Charging Service and can be planned using the Porsche Charging Planner.
Working alongside the navigation system, the Charging Planner does a few key things. First, it looks at the route and plots the shortest, fastest path (we'd classify that as the minimum responsibility of a navigation system, after all) and then continuously monitors conditions along the way. If, though, the Charging Planner realises the Taycan's battery is going to be a bit low – 13 percent or less – upon arrival, it factors in charge stops, reorienting the route based on where the battery will get the fastest recharge rate. A 50-kW DC charger might be right off the motorway exit, but if there's a 150-kW charger 10 minutes out of the way that will cut the charge time in half, Charge Planner takes that into account when plotting the journey. Once that's settled, the system will also precondition the battery to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that allows the fastest of fast charges. With a route engaged, a journey timeline shows when and where to stop, and even how long to charge for.
The optional Porsche Intelligent Range Manager takes the Charge Planner's abilities even further, offering an alternative route that minimises charging stops while the driver is in the Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, or Individual drive modes, and then automatically selects Range mode if the driver chooses the optional route. The Intelligent Range Manager bases this route not just on charge locations and traffic, but also on the topography and the speed limit of the route, all in a bid to maximize driving range.
Even the Taycan's pair of charge doors received a Porsche touch. The two doors flip up to reveal the chargers – AC-only on the driver's side and a combo AC/DC (devil horns!) charger on the passenger side – and can even increase torque up to 20 percent to break through a layer of ice.
Like A Porsche
As we discuss in our first ride of the Taycan, despite a 2,300-kg curb weight, the Taycan feels incredibly agile and pinned down. As we've seen with EVs from other legacy automakers, Porsche put a great deal of emphasis on building an EV that stayed true to the character of its brand. As Taycan line manager Stefan Weckbach told Motor1.com, “[The Taycan is the] sportiest vehicle in the segment and sets new performance standards.”
That starts with a standard three-chamber air suspension, Porsche Active Suspension Management, and Porsche's 4D Chassis Control. The first lowers the ride height by 10 millimetres above 56 mph and by a further 12 mm over 112 mph (or if the driver switches to Sport Plus). It can also raise the ride height 20 mm if you have a rather steep driveway. The real benefit of the air suspension, beyond height adjustability and load levelling, is how it can quickly change spring rates for improved handling or ride comfort.
PASM, as it does in other all other Porsche products, is a marketing name for adaptive dampers (and quite good ones, based on our experience), while the 4D Chassis Control serves as the brains of the suspension – it's the thing that tells the dampers and air suspension how firm or soft to get. But getting a Porsche with the standard suspension is like getting kielbasa and passing on the sauerkraut and beer.
The sides for this particular sausage start with the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, which engineers modified from the system used on the Panamera to accommodate the Taycan's electrical system. But those changes don't impact the heart of this system, which rests on electromechanical sway bars that quell body roll to a degree that's hard to explain in text. Lateral body motions, even in a 2,300-kg car like this, are simply nonexistent. PDCC ensures consistently flat, effortless cornering.
Getting a Porsche with the standard suspension is like ordering kielbasa and passing on the sauerkraut and beer.
Another must have is rear-axle steering (optional on the Turbo and standard on the Turbo S), which functions in the Taycan in much the same way as in the 911 or Panamera. If you want to know more about this system, check out our first drive of the latest 911. The gist, though, is that it turns the rear wheels to either cut the turning circle at low speeds or improve high-speed stability. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, meanwhile, is a neat name for a torque-vectoring rear differential.
The Taycan's brakes are unlike any ever fitted to a Porsche. They could – and this isn't a joke or an exaggeration – last for 20 to 30 years. That's because the transmission, rather than the physical brakes, handle 90 percent of braking events. The front transmission can apply up to 221 lb-ft of recuperative torque, while the rear gearbox packs 406 lb-ft. Considering this, we’d argue the physical brakes, featuring dust-reducing tungsten-carbide surface coating, are a bit overkill. Up front, there are 10-piston monoblock calipers clamping down on 16.3-in (415-mm) rotors, while the rear brakes feature four-pot stoppers and 14.3-in (365 mm) rotors. Or you could go with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, which up the rotor size to 16.5 and 16.1 in (420 and 410 mm), respectively. You know, just in case.
Slippery As Hell
Porsche focused heavily on optimising the Taycan's aerodynamics without hindering its cooling ability. The result of these efforts is a coefficient of drag of just 0.22, making the Porsche slightly slipperier than a Tesla Model 3. The Toyota Prius, long a paragon of aerodynamics, is a proverbial brick at 0.26. Put simply, the only road cars with better CoDs are the limited-run Volkswagen XL1 and General Motors EV1. And neither of those look nearly as cool as the Taycan.
While passive aerodynamics play a role (the Taycan is low to the ground, especially up front; an aerodynamic tray covers the underside, including the axles; and the door handles stow while driving), active aero is the star of the show. Like petrol-powered Porsches, the Taycan gets an active rear spoiler, which works alongside active cooling flaps and front air curtains to earn the Taycan its impressive CoD. And of course, how these active systems work is dependent on the car’s given drive mode.
While stationary, or in the Normal and Sport drive modes, the Taycan stows its three-position rear spoiler and opens its cooling flaps. Go for the Range mode, and the shutters up front close to reduce drag, while the Taycan's spoiler enters a middle setting to improve airflow over the car and through the tumblehome. The standard air suspension also lowers the ride height to further improve aero. Sport Plus take a similar approach, shutting the cooling flaps and lowering the ride height, while the spoiler extends even further to improve downforce.
There’s no subtle way to say this, but the £115,858 Taycan Turbo and £138,826 Turbo S are pricey. Take into account Porsche’s notoriously fat options catalogue, and the Turbo’s real-world price will likely sit in the high £100,000 range while sub-£200,000 Turbo S variants will probably be uncommon. Of course, with over 30,000 pre-orders, we doubt Porsche-philes will care about the hefty price. It's also worth noting that while the first two Taycan models are significantly more expensive than anything Tesla is doing, prices for this EV largely mirror the Panamera.
The Panamera Turbo starts at £117,918, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid starts at £140,132. If lesser Taycans continue to mirror the Panamera, and if Porsche follows the same trim walk, we'd expect a base Taycan to start in the high £80,000 range, a Taycan S to cost just south of £100,000, and for the Cross Turismo to mimic the Panamera Sport Turismo and demand a roughly £7,000 premium over the standard model. We shouldn't have to wait long to find out if we're right. Porsche says additional trims will debut by the end of 2019 (perhaps at the Los Angeles Auto Show?), with the first Cross Turismo variant due by the end of 2020.
While Porsche is showing the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S at three events on September 4, you won't be waiting long for our first take on the new electric saloon. The first media drive is slated to start in about two weeks time. We'll have much more then.
Gallery: 2020 Porsche Taycan
World premiere of the Porsche Taycan: The sports car for a sustainable future
Purist design and full electric drive
Niagara Falls, Canada. Porsche presented its first fully-electric sports car to the public today with a world premiere held simultaneously on three continents. "The Taycan links our heritage to the future. It carries forward the success story of our brand – a brand that has fascinated and thrilled people the world over for more than 70 years," said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, who opened the world premiere in Berlin, "This day marks the start of a new era."
The four-door sports sedan is a unique package, offering characteristic Porsche performance and connectivity with everyday usability. At the same time, highly advanced production methods and the features of the Taycan are setting new standards in the fields of sustainability and digitalization. “We promised a true Porsche for the age of electric mobility – a fascinating sports car that not only excites in terms of its technology and driving dynamics, but also sparks a passion in people all over the world, just like its legendary predecessors have done. Now we are delivering on this promise,” emphasizes Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board of Porsche AG – Research and Development.
The first models in the new series are the Taycan Turbo S and Taycan Turbo. They are at the cutting edge of Porsche E-Performance and are among the most powerful production models that the sports car manufacturer currently has in its product range. Less powerful variants of these all-wheel drive vehicles will follow this year, and the first derivative to be added will be the Taycan Cross Turismo at the end of next year. By 2022, Porsche will have invested more than 6.6 billion dollars in electric mobility.
Performance meets efficiency
The flagship Turbo S version of the Taycan can generate up to 750 horsepower (560 kW) of power in combination with Launch Control and overboost, while the Taycan Turbo can produce up to 670 horsepower (500 kW). The Taycan Turbo S will therefore accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, while the Taycan Turbo can complete this sprint in 3.0 seconds. The top track speed of both all-wheel-drive models is 161 mph.
The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 volts instead of the commonly used 400 volts for electric cars. This is a particular advantage for Taycan drivers on the road: under ideal conditions, the charging time from five to 80 percent State of Charge (SoC) is just 22.5 minutes, with a maximum charging power (peak) of up to 270 kW. The overall capacity of the 800V high voltage battery is 93.4 kWh. Taycan drivers can comfortably charge their cars with up to 9.6 kW of alternating current (AC) at home using a standard SAE J1772 connector.
The EPA range estimate for North American market is pending for both vehicles.
Pure exterior design with Porsche DNA
With its clean, pure-Porsche design, the Taycan ushers in a new era. At the same time, it retains the unmistakable Porsche design DNA. From the front, it looks particularly wide and flat with highly contoured wings. The silhouette is shaped by the sporty roofline sloping downward to the rear. The highly sculpted side sections are also a strong characteristic of Porsche styling. The sleek cabin, the drawn-in rear C-pillar and the pronounced shoulders of the rear /wings result in a sharply emphasized rear, typical of the brand. There are also innovative elements such as the glass-look Porsche logo, which has been integrated into the light bar at the rear. With a coefficient of drag value as low as 0.22, the aerodynamically optimized basic shape makes a significant contribution to low energy consumption and thus long range.
Unique interior design with a wide display screen band
The cockpit signals the start of a new era of interior design at Porsche with its clear structure and a completely new architecture. The free-standing, curved instrument cluster forms the highest point on the dashboard. This places a clear focus on the driver axis. A central, 10.9-inch infotainment display and an optional passenger display are combined to form an integrated glass band in a black-panel look. All user interfaces have been designed from scratch for the Taycan. The number of classic hardware controls such as switches and buttons has been greatly reduced. Instead, control is intelligent and intuitive – using touch operation or the voice control function, which responds to the command “Hey Porsche”.
With the Taycan, Porsche offers an entirely leather-free interior option for the first time. Interiors made from innovative recycled materials underscore the sustainable concept of the electric sports car. “Foot garages” – recesses in the battery in the rear foot well – ensure seating comfort for rear seat passengers while allowing the typically low roof height found on sports cars. Two luggage compartments are available: the front compartment has a capacity of 2.8 cubic feet and the rear 12.9 cubic feet.
Innovative drive motors and a two-speed transmission
The Taycan Turbo S and Taycan Turbo have two exceptionally efficient electric ma- chines, one on the front axle and one on the rear axle, thus making the cars all-wheel drive. Both the range and the continuous power of the drive system benefit from the highly efficient permanently excited synchronous machines. The electric machine, transmission and pulse-controlled inverter are each combined into a compact drive module. The modules have the highest power density (kW per cubic foot of package space) of all electric powertrains on the market today. A special feature of the electric motors are the "hairpin" windings of the stator coils. This technology makes it possible to incorporate more copper in the stator, increasing power output and torque while maintaining the same component volume. The two-speed transmission installed on the rear axle is an innovation developed by Porsche. First gear lets the Taycan prioritize acceleration from
a standing start, while second gear, with its long gear ratio, ensures high efficiency and equally high power reserves while traveling at high speeds.
Centrally-networked chassis systems
Porsche uses a centrally-networked control system for the Taycan chassis. The integrated Porsche 4D Chassis Control analyses and synchronizes all chassis systems in real time. The innovative chassis systems include adaptive air suspension with three- chamber technology including PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) electronic damper control, as well as the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) electromechanical roll stabilization system including Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus). The all-wheel drive control with two electric motors and the recuperation system are unique. At up to 265 kW, the potential recuperation power is significantly higher than that of competitors. Driving tests have shown that approximately 90 percent of everyday braking is performed by the electric machines alone – without the hydraulic brake system being activated.
Multiple driving modes allow drivers to tailor their experience on the road. The different mode profiles follow the same philosophy as in other Porsche model series, but is supplemented by a special setting which maximizes efficient operation. The four driving modes that are available include “Normal”, “Sport”, “Sport Plus”, and “Range”. In addition, individual systems can be configured as required in the “Individual” mode.
A world premiere on three continents at the same time
The world premiere of the Porsche Taycan took place simultaneously in North America, China and Europe. The most important sales markets of the new electric sports car are on these three continents. The event locations are also a synonym for three ways of sustainable energy management: Niagara Falls at the border between the US state of
New York and the Canadian province of Ontario representing hydropower, a solar farm in Neuhardenberg near Berlin representing solar power and a wind farm on Pingtan Island, less than a mile from the Chinese city of Fuzhou in the province of Fujian representing wind power. We perceive these natural forces with all our senses in exactly the same way as we experience the impressive power delivery of the first all-electric sports car from Porsche. This one-time triple event was broadcast worldwide via live stream on NewsTV.porsche.com.