What do you do if you are the maker of iconic sports cars, and then announce a mission to make an electric one? You go ahead and make a car that is just as sensational on performance as your fans would expect - and oh - also make it all-electric. That is the approach that the development of the Porsche Taycan seems to have taken. And so it is every bit a Porsche - first, and then happens to be an EV. It is also now the proud double titleholder of the 2020 World Performance Car of the Year and the 2020 World Luxury Car at the recently concluded World Car Awards. The car was also a Top Three finalist for the World Car Design category and for many jurors if it had qualified on criteria, it would have also won the World Car of the Year title. Yes, it is THAT good.
Roots in the Mission-E
Rewind a bit to the 2015 Frankfurt Show when Porsche showed the Mission-E concept car. At the time Porsche said it was aiming at producing the car with an output of around 590 bhp, and a driving range of around 500 kms. The end result saw it get pretty darn close to that. The Porsche Taycan has impressed everyone who ever sat in it, and I will explain why. There are four output versions of the Taycan, and with me is the Turbo, which is right up there on performance. Of course you then get the Turbo S that is more powerful, but 658 horses and 850 Nm on the Turbo is plenty for me! The Turbo S has 746 bhp by the way, before you ask. But like I said, the numbers on the Taycan Turbo are enviable anyway. The 'lower spec' Taycan variants get 520 bhp.
The Taycan's styling is very much like the Mission-E concept's, but prettier I think. The styling is very much Porsche - and the signature LED daytime running lights are in keeping with the stable. The silhouette is also very Porsche like and the rear has the LED strip that connects the taillights. My test car with its dark blue paint and yellow brake callipers is exactly how I'd spec mine by the way. But let me stop dreaming. Inside the treatment can be beige or black. The car is loaded with equipment and creature comforts and has efficiency management systems to use all in a way that does not consumer too much of the car's battery.
The Taycan's Tech
The thing with all electrics is the instant torque. But on the Porsche Taycan it is just so much more than just that. The Taycan has two Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors on each axle. The car's 800 volt system is unlike most EVs that use 400 volt tech. The 93.4 kWh battery is housed in the under body to give the Taycan better driving dynamics. All wheel drive is standard and also helps with the car's many drive modes - to make it more or less dynamic depending on the requirement (or mode selected).
Acceleration on this thing is absolutely insane. I have to admit I was not ready for that kind of instant response. Frankly even the combustion engines on Porsches don't give you what this car can! I could have done that all day! 0-100 kmph in 3 seconds (its faster on the Turbo S) is incredible for a four door of this size. And I have to tell you, there's something futuristic sounding about that battery response. The sound it makes when you hit the pedal down to the floor is very appealing. Sure, it is not a 'vroom' or a growl, but its futuristic an somehow it seems to work! The Taycan is effortless to the point that it is unbelievable. And there's a reason it accelerates like that. The Taycan gets a brand new automatically switching 2-speed transmission on its rear axle. Porsche says it did this to vastly improve the car's dynamics. What this does is - gives you a really short ratio on the 1st gear, so your instant acceleration is lightning fast. The longer ratio on the 2nd gear helps you to maintain acceleration when you are at higher speeds, for quick reactions from the car. So it's bloody impressive on a straight highway, and guess what? It also stays true to expectation on twists and turns. The Taycan's handling is sublime as is its steering precision. It will hold its line through sharp corners, and give you a quick exit out of one too.
The thing that you don't notice when you are driving the Porsche Taycan is that maximum output or the 658 horses is something you only get for 2 and a half seconds at a time. The reason? The engine management does not want the electric drivetrain to overheat. The car uses Porsche's Intelligent Range Manager. That is basically on-board software that constantly adjusts throttle response, maximum speed and even the air conditioning when you start to run low on battery power. This is effective when you have already input a destination in the car's navigation system.
The downside of using the more effective and punchy 800 volt battery setup is finding a charging network for it. Porsche has developed a more powerful 270 kW charger that can give you an 80 per cent charge in 22 minutes 30 seconds. But even in California where I drove the Taycan, the more common chargers were the 400 volt variety thanks to Tesla, and that therefore takes longer. That said Porsche will install one at your home or office if you buy the car I am told. There was a lot of talk at the time when the overall project was even announced by Porsche about whether the company can really get an electric sports car right. And then there was a fair amount of criticism in terms of how long it took for Porsche to bring it to market. Having spent a fair bit of time with this car, what I can tell you, is simply this - boy was it time well spent!
Coming to India soon
So yes the Porsche Taycan deserves all the praise and accolades it is getting. The World Car Awards double win is just step one. The bigger win for Porsche is that the time and money spent in the Taycan will undoubtedly give us a slew of electrics and hybrids that will offer exhilarating performance and also allow the company to achieve the green targets it has set for itself over the coming years. The good news is that Porsche has confirmed the Taycan for India. As for when, I have no doubt the global crisis we are in will mean a delay to what was previously planned. And so my guess is that the Taycan will not make it here before December 2020 or early 2021. Pricing will be well upwards of ₹ 2 Crore.