Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Why the Porsche Taycan gives driving purists hope for the electric era

'It does a better job of representing the future of motoring than any other vehicle I’ve driven to date'

“Nettes auto,” said the small child who was barely old enough to ride a bicycle, as we stopped in a village between Berlin and Dresden. Roughly translated, it means “nice car”; even the little girl’s family came to inspect the dramatic lines of the new electric Porsche Taycan after we had silently stopped outside their house to switch drivers and stretch legs en route to our overnight stay, 300 kilometres down the road in Hof.

Moments earlier I’d been hustling the 751 brake horsepower, Turbo S model down back roads and lamenting the lack of sound you normally get from a Porsche, whether from the flat-six turbocharged engine of the 911 or the twin-turbo V8 in the Cayenne and Panamera. But I’m not this car’s target market – that little girl is.

By the time she’s old enough to drive, electric vehicles will be the norm and the Taycan may now be her new poster car. So, if she thought it was “nette”, who am I to argue? A few weeks earlier I had covered its extravagant reveal and detailed its lengthy specifications, but the time had come to finally get behind the wheel – not just for a few laps of a track or a half-day’s drive, but for a solid 700km tour through cities, villages and as fast as we dared on motorways.

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The Jaguar SVR makes an SUV seem positively sophisticated:

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It rained most of the way, forcing us to frequently use battery-sapping devices like window de-misters, wipers and lights. Despite this, our Taycan required only three charges in total. A 25-minute fast charge at both lunch stops took it from 9 and 5 per cent respectively to 80 per cent, and this was done before we had finished our burgers.

Germany’s limit-free autobahns allowed the electric Taycan to maintain Porsche’s performance credentials, cruising at 200 kilometres per hour-plus for much of the way, with the occasional spurt to 270kmh – that’s 10kmh above its quoted top speed.

Its grip and handling on back roads was phenomenal, thanks to its low centre of gravity and power driving all four wheels via a motor in each axle. Bodyroll was nonexistent and its traction out of corners reset the benchmark for even the brawniest supercar.

A 25-minute fast charge took it from 9 to 80 per cent battery. Courtesy Porsche
A 25-minute fast charge took it from 9 to 80 per cent battery. Courtesy Porsche

As for Taycan’s acceleration, especially from 80 to 200kmh, it’s incomparable, as it pushes you hard into the seat, while its launch control needs to come with a caution as it smacks your skull into the headrest, rocketing from zero to 100kmh in 2.8 seconds. The model names might be confusing – Turbo and Turbo S (the Taycan obviously doesn’t have turbochargers, but Porsche keeps the names for marketing purposes) – but they represent the future of motoring better than any other vehicle I’ve driven to date.

How, you might ask? The Taycan drives and reacts like a regular car – more so than the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla, the only EV alternatives in the prestige segment. While it has regenerative braking like the Jaguar, it doesn’t feel like it, meaning that when you lift off the accelerator it coasts without feeling like someone has applied the brakes. Energy is still being recovered, but without the car slowing when you lift off the gas.

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Chevrolet’s quiet EV is a Bolt from the blue:

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The other big reason is the two-speed transmission in the rear motor, which, at 120kmh, shifts up and then back down as it passes back through 80kmh. That feeling is like changing from fourth to fifth gear on the motorway or from third back to second as you dive into a corner and lift off the throttle. Both happened at the same time as my fingers instinctively looked for the paddle shifters behind the wheel.

With models not due in the region until the end of next year, prices are still not available from Porsche Middle East, but you can expect it to be in the high six-figures. It might be worth it, though, as driving the Taycan is genuinely enjoyable in a way that I didn’t think could be possible for electric vehicles. Dare I say, it’s even given purists a ray of hope for fun driving days ahead in the EV era.

Updated: October 31, 2019 04:47 PM

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