Porsche’s Tesla Model S rival is here – but should Elon
Musk’s company be worried? Darren Cassey finds out.
WHAT IS IT?
What is it? A pretty big deal, that’s what. The Taycan is Porsche’s
first electric vehicle and the car that’s finally giving Tesla something
to worry about.
The German car maker reckons its American rival isn’t really a rival at
all though, because they have a different ethos – but for now, they’re
the only electric executive cars about. (The Taycan is considerably more
It’s also a big deal because when Porsche tries something new, it tends
to succeed. When it launched the Cayenne, the idea of a premium sports
car maker doing an SUV was madness. Now it’s the firm’s best-selling
So with the Taycan in the UK for the first time, we took the Turbo S –
the top-spec, top performance version – on a mix of motorway miles and
winding country roads, to see if it has that special Porsche
Not just Porsche’s first electric vehicle, this has been designed to be
an electric vehicle from the ground up. So there’s no cramming of
batteries and electric motors into engine bays; instead the powertrain
has been integrated into the body to give a low and sleek silhouette,
while the batteries being under the floor helps give the Taycan the
lowest centre of gravity of any Porsche.
It is also the first production vehicle from any car maker to use an
800-volt system voltage, twice the typical amount for an EV, which has
benefits at the charging pump. Using a DC fast charger, Porsche reckons
you can add up to 60 miles of range in just five minutes, while charging
from zero to 80% of the battery’s capacity takes about 22 minutes in
ideal conditions. With peak charging power of 270kW and a maximum
battery capacity of 93.4kWh, range anxiety is surely a buzzword of the
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
Performance comes from a pair of electric motors, one on each axle
providing all-wheel drive, with a two-speed gearbox on the rear and a
single-speed on the front. It’s full of clever innovations that are too
complex to explain in one paragraph, but the result is 616bhp in normal
driving with up to 750bhp available in Launch Control mode, while
maximum torque is 1,050 Nm. Zero to 60mph will come up in 2.6 seconds
and the top speed is 161mph.
Those are incredible numbers, and they have an incredible effect on your
body. Most EVs use a single-speed gearbox, but that two-speed gearbox on
the rear axle means the Taycan has an acceleration gear to maximise its
Plant your foot on the accelerator from a standstill and you’re
violently punched back into the seat as the car launches forward, the
sustained g-forces leaving you feeling light-headed and a little
nauseous at first. It’s intoxicating and you can’t help but laugh out
loud… once you’ve pulled yourself away from the backrest, that is.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Refinement is the key word here. From the moment you set off in silence,
it’s clear Porsche has worked hard to give you a feeling of quiet
solidity – there are no squeaks or rattles in the cabin unmasked by the
silent powertrain. The control weights are perfectly judged between
being light enough that you could drive it daily, but offering enough
feedback that they give you confidence when pushing on. The steering is
a particular highlight.
There are five drive modes: Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and
Wet. You’ll spend most of your time in normal, where it’s still silly
fast but silent. Sport adds a little more electric whine, while Sport
Plus unleashes maximum power and provides a sci-fi movie soundtrack that
adds an aural sense of entering warp speed as well as a physical one.
Aside from the gut-wrenching acceleration, it’s the way the Taycan feels
small and nimble on a country road that delights. We tested this the
same day as a 911 Turbo S, and where that felt like an intimidatingly
big, blunt instrument to pummel roads into submission with, the
four-door saloon felt lithe and nimble and surprisingly at home bombing
between the hedgerows.
Out on the motorway, it’s perfectly Porsche. The ride is exquisite,
there’s hardly any road noise and you could imagine spending hours
behind the wheel without so much as a grumble from car or driver.
HOW DOES IT LOOK?
When Porsche first revealed the Mission E, the concept car that
previewed the Taycan, its coupe-like four-door shape, massive wheels in
swollen arches and prominent front bumper slats won it many plaudits.
The fact the Taycan has kept that spirit alive into production form is
It looks like nothing else on the road; hunkered low to the floor with
sleek curves, it’s wide but with a low roofline that makes it look like
it’s hugging the Tarmac. The headlights have that signature Porsche
quad-LED look, while the ‘air curtains’ that drop down to the lower
bumper almost look like fangs.
At the rear, the full-width LED bar gives a suitably futuristic light
signature, and the simple curves mean it should age gracefully in a
period where many cars are massively overdesigned.
WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?
Perhaps the only area we could find a hint of disappointment is the
interior. It’s still a 9/10 kinda deal, with the infotainment menus
slick and responsive and every material feeling like it has the utmost
There’s a sense it’s built to last, too, while the seating position is
nigh-on perfect – it’s low like a sports car but the minimalist
dashboard means you can see clearly over the bonnet. Meanwhile, rear
passengers have a surprising amount of space, though headroom isn’t huge
on account of the sloping roofline.
However, the lower screen in the centre console, which has the climate
control, shortcuts for options such as satellite navigation and audio,
and a laptop-like trackpad to navigate menus, looks a bit sparse with
lots of unused screen space. Meanwhile, the graphics used throughout are
dark and basic.
Furthermore, the standard steering wheel felt at odds with the car. It’s
thin-rimmed and wrapped in an Alcantara-like Race-Tex material, feeling
more like something out of a track-ready sports car. It left us with
sore thumbs and sweaty hands. For our money, it would be better to opt
for the optional leather version, though this does require the fantastic
Race-Tex sports seats to be switched for leather too – so bear that in
This is a six-figure car, but Porsche has given it a six-figure spec
list. Standard equipment on the Turbo S includes adaptive air
suspension, 21-inch ‘Mission E Design’ alloy wheels, carbon exterior
inserts, LED Matrix headlights, two-zone climate control, parking
pre-climatisation and battery pre-conditioning, adaptive sports seats,
heated front and rear seats and various safety systems.
Let’s be frank, at the best part of £140,000, the Taycan Turbo S is not
a car you buy with any sort of consideration for your bank account’s
wellbeing. Even the base model is a good few grand more than an
equivalent Tesla Model S. However, if the best is all that will do, then
this electric Porsche is all that will do.
It looks like a spaceship, sounds like a spaceship and accelerates like
one, too. It handles like a sports car but emits no harmful gases, and
you can fit three of your mates and their luggage inside to boot. If you
can look past the price, there really are few downsides.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model as tested: Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Engine: Twin electric motors with 93.4kWh battery
Power: 616bhp (750bhp with Launch Control)
Max speed: 161mph
0-60mph: 2.6 secs
Range: 254 miles
Emissions: 0g/km CO2