The all-new Porsche Taycan has landed in Australia, and with Porsche engineering and DNA offers itself as one of the best EVs on the market.
It takes only a moment to realise that the Taycan is the best electric car you can buy. Sure, the word ‘best’ is contentious, with provisos on value, quality, practicality, performance, agility and the like, but the Taycan wholly conquers almost every one of those facets. Even benchmarked against its close pier the Tesla Model S for value, you could buy one and half of the Tesla but you’re not getting one and a half times the car.
That moment of realisation comes behind the wheel of the flagship Taycan Turbo S on a forested twisting road between Torquay and Lorne near the Great Ocean Road. Despite the badge’s familiarity on the rump of many modern-day Porsches, Turbo S is a name with no correlation to the mechanical composition of the fully electric drivetrain underneath, except to indicate this is the top performance offering. Likewise, familiar badges Turbo and 4S adorn the other two models in the Australian Taycan range.
The Turbo S and its 460kW, 850Nm output from the front and rear electric motors combined is a devastatingly quick combination. Put into launch mode it turns the wick up to 560kW and 1050Nm for the occasion, ensuring a breathtaking launch to 100km/h from a standstill in 2.8 seconds. The unique two-speed gearbox can further take the four-door sports saloon to a top speed of 260km/h.
Engaging launch mode is about as unspectacular as connecting Apple CarPlay. You turn the Sport Chrono dial to Sport S, disable traction control and plant both pedals to the carpet right before a chime politely informs you that all systems are primed. It could just as well be indicating you left a door open. Let go of that left foot, however, and the g-forces your body feels conjures thoughts of the USS Enterprise.
At this point there’s actually nothing particularly unique about the Taycan; Tesla has been doing this flying start for years, though without reliable repeatability. But on this weaving mountain pass the Turbo S and its low centre of gravity – the lowest of any Porsche you can buy – and finely tuned chassis zap any possible handling woes from the 93.4kWh battery’s underlying mass.
The steering is nicely weighted and provides typical Porsche feedback that’s communicative, smooth, and pin-point accurate. A Panamera ahead of us which took off early is under the Taycan’s nose already, and it’s clear that the grip and resilience to lateral movement around fast corners is a match for both electric and traditional fossil-fuel rivals. About the only missing ingredient when you’re digging into a bunch of twisting bends is the lack of a rousing petrol-fired soundtrack. Instead, we get the artificial ‘Electronic Sport Sound,’ a less exciting but characteristic noise that does help with a sense of speed, something many EVs lack.
And even with its space-age warbling sound zooming through the forest like a podracer, the Taycan is not impervious to physics when switching between fast 90-degree corners, introducing push-understeer before the computer truncates torque at the wheels and pulls the nose into line. It’s a hangover from left foot braking the smooth regenerative brakes which don’t always wipe off as much speed as you expect, at least not during our short acquaintance. It’s less pronounced out of Sport S mode, though the throttle is a touch blunt and without such instant response.
However, in any driving mode, there is always warp speed acceleration on tap. Unlike the similar but somewhat overly brutal kickback some EVs give, the motors at each end deliver full power in a syrupy smooth transition. Even the base 4S and its 320kW and 640Nm shoves you back when you’re looking to blow off traffic – and somewhat thanks to a lighter, smaller 79.2kWh battery. And the ride, despite mammoth 21-inch alloys, is neat and tidy over rutted roads that would make some smaller diametre wheels crunch.
Another positive mark is NVH, any outside noise hushed to a whisper and providing a comfortable setting inside where an array of up to four screens – driver, central infotainment, passenger, and one for climate control – are the star of a flash cabin design that’s illuminated at night with hidden LED lighting in joins and under cupholders.
The driver’s seat is particularly low set if you want and both forward pews push back to offer a long footwell of space. The same can’t be said for the rear where there’s some sacrifice to leg space for the back seats and the boot is a short 366-litre space (there’s 81L in the frunk). The rear air vents offer full climate control, however, and it’s fine for adults on a weekend shindig while the cosy rear is required for that swept rear-end aesthetic.
Visually striking in the metal, Taycan models are available in mostly a palette of muted colours and soft metallics that work with the sci-fi theme soundtrack and unique styling. There’s a bright red option on the list that’s sporty over black wheels, but no glary yellows or fluro greens. And it doesn’t seem it needs them to be noticed.
The sum of the Taycan’s facets is a success and wraps up why Porsche Australia is against the wall to fulfill orders which begin Febraury 27, estimating around 500 units a year will be sold locally – that puts it somewhere between the Panamera and Macan, and an incredible feat considering Porsche’s sports car heritage and the handfuls of EV sales many other manufacturers make.
As Porsche tells us though, things like EV range – a laudable 464km on the 4S with cost-option 93.4kWh battery – and charging accessibility are hardly a point of concern. Many buyers already have one or more Porsches and their garages are being set up with fast chargers at both primary and holiday residences. This is a contemporary road piece to travel in style, the car particular buyers have been waiting for, and things like a sub 3.0sec 0-100km/h and world-first 800v charging capability is bragging rights. And for the enthusiasts, the Taycan’s capabilities make this the best driver’s electric car.