Porsche (finally!) invited us out on a drive of their flagship EV, the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S this week (find local dealer test drive). The ride was from the Daytona motor speedway to the Porsche Experience Center in South Atlanta, a distance of 450 or so Interstate miles. The car I was driving was still a pre-production model destined to be sent back to Germany and scrapped (the horror!). Almost all of the hardware was final version however and the model I was driving was a Taycan Turbo with Turbo S wheels. Let’s take a closer look at this bad boy…
So the Taycan, in all of its trims, is the kind of car that when you stop, people walk up to the car and swooooon. Some fans even follow you to take pictures while you are driving down the freeway. I imagine that as Porsche delivers more of these beauties, the excitement will be tempered somewhat. There are currently only around 200 delivered in the US out of a sold-out 30,000 expected worldwide over the next year or so. The Taycan is a sight to behold.
As I mentioned, my car was a bit of a frankenstein and the Turbo S car I had hoped to drive was riding on some tires slightly damaged during testing at the motor speedway. But the Turbo sans S was still more than enough car for me and I got to see what it was like driving with 192-mile range wheels.
But first, can we step back and have a look at this beauty? This is a gorgeous car. Porsche didn’t skimp on the design. at. all.
It is both muscular with those monster front brake calipers and sleek. And distinctively Porsche.
This is also a no joke 4 seater fit for 4 adults in comfort on a daily basis or on a long drive.
The interior is clean and most of the important driving controls are tactile on the wheel. Notice the “drive mode” dial. That got a lot of use in my testing and after a few short hours with it, I didn’t even need to look down to use it properly.
The infotainment was definitely pre-prod which was a shame because I really wanted to see how Apple’s CarPlay integration worked. My PR rep had synched his account up and he was able to stream music from his Apple Music account without his phone. It is almost like the first step toward an Apple Car in concept – but at the ROKR phase currently. I’m really looking forward to trying this on a production model.
Porsche doesn’t seem to be following the lead of its German brethren in also adopting Android Auto. No timeline was given for Android Auto adoption but Porsche’s US CEO noted that Android would eventually be supported in its infotainment stack. 91% of Porsche customers in the US use iOS so let’s just say it isn’t a huge hurry for Porsche.
I will say that if the center stack is super important to you, Porsche isn’t going to be leading the pack here. All of Porsche’s energy is going into the driving experience and while some of that is based in infotainment, clearly Porsche is willing to be a generation or two behind the leaders in this field.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way…
Range anxiety? 0.
Many have asked about its sub-200 mile range on the Turbo S, and Porsche said a few things and I observed a few things about this:
- The under 200 (192-mile) range of the Taycan Turbo S vs 201 mile Turbo is almost entirely due to the monster tire size and higher rolling resistance and not due to any drive train or aero differences. I got to experience these 192 mile S wheels on the otherwise 201-mile range Turbo.
- Porsche thinks it could optimize the car to hit 200 miles by re-doing a 5 part test rather than the EPA’s 2-part City/Highway test
- Management is evaluating whether raising the psychological number is worth it. I don’t feel like anyone would care. It is the same car. Others have said that 192 miles is highly conservative and that’s my take as well.
- I did the opposite of hypermiling it through what is called the “Florida Autobahn” (Interstate 95 between Daytona and Jacksonville) where left lane normal speed is often 90 mph. I won’t admit to breaking any speeding laws but let’s just say we arrived at each leg of our journey about 30 minutes ahead of the 70-75mph car somehow. Maybe the other guy was taking bathroom breaks or something.
- Even driving like that, I mostly matched Porsche’s claimed mileage. Sport Plus mode would sap the mileage at a higher rate but it would also go from 80-130mph almost instantly, or so I’ve been told.
Daytona was a gray 60 degrees Fahrenheit and we hit a few showers on our 450 mile way up the interstate to S. Atlanta which was in the high 40s by the time we got there. As with most EVs, the cold probably didn’t help. But, again, I got what I expected and that’s while driving like a maniac.
350kW charging? Almost!
One component of range anxiety is battery size and range. Another is available fast-charging stations. Electrify America had us more than covered for this trip.
We got in the car with a 95% charge and a 150-mile destination. As I cycled through the different modes, the range estimate said I would arrive anywhere between 20% and 35%. Even driving hard, I never went outside of this range. Because my bladder got beat by the Taycan’s range we did do an unexpected pit stop at a grungy gas station. LOL Gas!
Charging at the Electrify America station which was at a Shell gas station was super simple. Immediately we went up to 250kW of power, were still at 100kW at 80% and even at 90% state of charge we were somehow still charging at close to 84kW. Porsche does keep 10kWh of the battery off-limits so that certainly helps, just like Audi. All told, we added 64kWh in 30 minutes. That cost us $30 at EA. Not bad for this high tech infrastructure though most EV owners charge at home and 64kWH costs between $3 and $6 depending on your utility rates.
The second charging station was the same story. We plugged in after the battery had been conditioned and had no problem getting 250kW and over. Under perfect conditions, Porsche said it can currently get as high as 270kW. Note that sunshine + EA station screens don’t make for great camera shots.
Our second EA stop was at a Walmart which also offered 350kW charging options was the same – 250kW to start and then a sometimes erratic taper to around 100kW.
This time we barely had enough time to go to the bathroom because we wanted to leave ourselves hitting the low charge warnings as we were heading toward the Porsche experience center in S. Atlanta. And that we did!
Once we got to Atlanta, we plugged into Porsche’s own “Turbochargers” which offered similar speeds as EA but a much better design and interface.
Best Porsche ever?
Porsche USA CEO Klaus Zellmer noted that Porsche’s dealers(!!) came away from their first drive wondering why Porsche was still making internal combustion engine cars. It is that good.
I’ll make my case here but this is a very subjective area so I’ll welcome any and all comments.
Criteria 1: Day to day driving. Where do I arrive at my title of “best Porsche ever”? Well, I admittedly don’t have a lot of experience behind the wheels of exotic Porsches and I’m sure the purists are already defecating all over the comment section. In fact, the only Porsche I’ve ever driven at length was my uncle’s 944 which was more of a hot hatch experiment ‘for the masses’ that Porsche tells me they won’t do again. So for a good intro to this discussion let’s take a look at Porsche’s new Superbowl ad:
All of these exotic Porsches are a pain in the ass to drive around town. Sure they are amazing on the back roads without traffic. In the city? Loud, high revs, weird gear ratios, etc. Overkill!
Not only are most of these exotics small and loud with exotic stick-shift gearboxes but the interior isn’t something you’d want to live in day to day. In fact, which of the above cars would you want to take the kids to school in? Answer: Only the Taycan.
Sure Porsche’s relatively recent foray into SUVs has given soccer moms and house husbands a way to schlep kids around but we’re not still talking about sports cars with sub-3-second acceleration.
The most eye-opening part of my drive wasn’t the insane acceleration or speed of the car but how effortlessly it managed surface streets in busy Atlanta like a normal car.
Criteria 2: Acceleration. The only Porsche that really beats the Taycan Turbo S is the exotic 2013-2015 918 Spyder which had a 0-60 time of around 2.2 seconds (and cost $845,000 base). That was actually helped by its PHEV electric motor (so you are still plugging it in). The Taycan is generously listed at 2.6 seconds – I’d put it close to 2.4 if conditions are right which puts it at almost a half-second faster than its current next fastest car, the 911 Turbo S.
In addition to those extra tenths of a second, you are getting tons of space and practicality while paying about the same price.
Criteria 3: Top speed, weight, handling. OK, Taycan loses here. With only the 2 speed gearbox, the Taycan tops out at 160mph (which I did not achieve on the Florida Interstate for the record). I’m pretty confident that with a theoretical third gear ratio, the rear motor could get this car pretty close to 200mph.
As for weight, Taycan is way heavier than the typical Porsche sports car because of its huge battery pack. But the racing company did wonders on the handling both in city/highway driving and on the glorious back roads. That low weight does make the Taycan the Porsche with the lowest center of gravity and boy does it corner like it is on rails.
Criteria 4: Comfort. Almost no noise even at absurd acceleration is just the tip of the iceberg here. Not only is that nice for riders but people outside aren’t subjected to noise (or air) pollution. You also don’t have the tiring vibration of the jarring gears. Note: The Taycan does have a 2 gear rear differential but I actually had to stop and try to feel it on an onramp. Day to day driving it is almost unnoticeable.
Seats are comfortable front and back. Headroom isn’t amazing in the rear but the glass roof does a lot to alleviate any claustrophobia. At almost 6 feet, I had bout 2-3 inches of clearance in the rear. Kids will be fine.
Frunk space for days? OK the frunk isn’t huge but it is deep and is about what you’d be able to fit about 4 grocery bags. Better yet all of the tire repair stuff goes here so you have much more space in the back.
Also, you don’t have to feel like a douchebag driving around a 2-seater that is burning a gallon of gas every 20 miles or so if you are lucky. Some folks actually care about that.
Criteria X: Car camping in a Porsche? Yes, the Tacan can fairly easily be camped in with some padding for those of us under I’d say 6’5. I don’t see any other exotic Porsches having that distinction. In fact, a pass-thru module will let you get the skis and snowboards to the mountains or *gasp* take some lumber home from Home Depot.
Sure there are a few. The obvious one that will eliminate (purposefully and unapologetically) 90% of the population is price. Even the 4S is barely under 6 figures after tax credit and I imagine that $7500 will be eaten up by state taxes, fees, and options at the very least. This is a six-figure car. The Turbo S is going to be around $200,000 all told.
I noted before that the center technology stack was lacking and some of that is due to the pre-production software running on this car. Other things like touch sensitivity aren’t going to get better via Porsche’s OTA updates. But overall Porsche just doesn’t place a high enough priority on these things. Interior-wise, much more time will be spent on the seats, which are spectacular, traditional instrumentation and all-around styling.
Also if you are an efficiency person (and you are still reading this), Porsche is at the bottom end of the EV spectrum when it comes to miles per kWh of energy. I imagine if someone put some BMW i3 wheels on this thing, they could probably get close to 300 miles of range. That just isn’t Porsche however. Porsche also locks up 10kWh of battery so a theoretical release of some of this would improve its range (like Audi and Jaguar have done). Porsche tells me not to hold my breath on that.
Conclusion and future of Porsche electrification
We were a little paranoid about why Porsche hadn’t invited us (the world’s largest EV site!) to experience the Taycan. Were all of the journalists “friendlies” who wouldn’t talk poorly about the downsides of the vehicle? Did they think we were just Tesla fans?
It turns out that the Taycan is actually an amazing vehicle all around. As someone who has owned and driven every model of Tesla, the Taycan stands on its own very nicely. For many, the interior is a big upgrade vs the Model S and X. The seats blow away anything I’ve ever sat in for comfort. The handling is second to none here and has to be experienced to be believed.
Just the beginning?
The electric Macan has already been announced though we have very few official details on it. The scuttlebutt is that it will be built with a huge assist from partially Porsche-owned Rimac. This will include a new bespoke high output battery pack, 4 tank-turn-capable motors, and performance that will make the 6.3s 0-60 ICE Macan a laughing stock.
It will be announced later this year and first be available next year. Porsche expects this car to sell incredibly well in China where it now moves more SUVs than any other geo. As you can probably imagine, Panamera and Cayenne will follow in short step, though I don’t know why anyone would buy these cars until they get batteries.
As Porsche CEO Klaus Zellmer says above, electrification is the future. After driving the Taycan for a few hours, I’d push back and say it is the now.
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