2020 Porsche Taycan: A Civilized Electric Rocket

Strong points
  • Performance is fabulous (Turbo) or stupefying (Turbo S)
  • Superbly agile and stable
  • Brakes are powerful and easy to modulate
  • Exceptionally quiet ride
  • Magnificent design inside and out
Weak points
  • High price
  • Tight rear seats
  • Very small rear window
  • Some of the controls and settings can be confusing
  • Will all those electronics prove reliable?
Full report

HAMBURG, Germany—Four years after presenting the Mission E concept and announcing the development of its first electric sports car, Porsche unveiled the production version on three separate continents at the same time. Long, wide, low and racy, the Taycan is almost identical to the early designs and fulfills all the promises made at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show. In some cases, it even surpasses expectations.

Right after the car’s introduction, Porsche kicked off the Taycan Road Show, a unique 6,400-kilometre road trip across nine different countries that would allow eleven groups of journalists to test drive the Taycan in various situations.

It all started in Oslo, Norway, with the final destination being Stuttgart, Germany, near the assembly plant where all the magic happens. Along the way, the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S cars would make stops at Ionity fast-charging stations, which Porsche is helping develop and implement. A similar network called Electrify Canada recently opened its first station.

A Panamera and 911 Rolled Into One

The Car Guide was part of the third group of journalists, meaning we would drive from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Hamburg, Germany. On the first day, we spent time in the most powerful version, a Taycan Turbo S rated at 751 horsepower and 774 pound-feet of torque when launch control is activated. Otherwise, it delivers 617 horsepower from its front and rear motors.

Seeing it in person made us realize how the Porsche Taycan looks a lot like a cross between the Panamera and 911, with the elongated profile of the former and the clean nose and tail of the latter. And as we found out later, driving dynamics are similar to the sedan, while performance is worthy of the legendary 911.

After loading our stuff in the trunk, which easily fits two suitcases and two backpacks, we slid into the ground-hugging Taycan. By the way, it’s 55 millimetres lower and 236 millimetres shorter than the Panamera, yet 28 millimetres wider (with wider tracks, too) and the wheelbase is 199 millimetres shorter. It’s no surprise that Porsche is selling it as a sports car above all else.

While we’re at it, you should know that access to the rear seats is challenging (prepare to work those abs!) because the seat cushions are set deeper into the cabin to offer more headroom to average-sized adults. If you’re taller than most, avoid sitting back there. Meanwhile, the split-folding seatbacks maximize cargo capacity. A three-passenger bench seat is optional.

Good Manners

The sport plus seats up front are nicely sculpted and the driving position is excellent, with a solid dead pedal and three groups of settings that you can have the car memorize. The sport steering wheel is nearly identical to that of the 918 Spyder, with a big rotary dial on the right to select your favourite drive mode. It also has classic paddle shifters (maybe a bit too plasticky for the price) and some very useful buttons and controls.

Speaking of which, the only switchgear you’ll find on the dashboard and centre console is the tiny gear selector. There are four digital displays instead, three of which are touch-sensitive. While not quite as futuristic as we anticipated, the overall layout is clean and user-friendly with conveniently positioned haptic controls. That being said, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes getting used to the icons that open up the various menus.

We found it not so easy to adjust the temperature by using the arrows on the screen. Once it’s done, however, you can turn your attention elsewhere. The air vents are simple to adjust with nothing more than a fingertip. Hopefully, all these electronic systems will not let you down at some point in time.

The passenger-side display actually came in handy when the navigation system froze. We could use it to map our entire trip while getting voice instructions and keeping an eye on the graphics on the 16.8-inch main screen in “Pure” mode. You can also have the map on the whole centre screen or stick with three conventional instruments in “Classic” mode.

Split Personality

It doesn’t take long to realize how solid and poised the new 2020 Porsche Taycan is on the road. Ride quality is impeccable and body movements are superbly kept in check by the air spring suspension with variable damping. Truth be told, the roads in Denmark and northern Germany are way better than ours. Dynamically speaking, the Turbo and Turbo S models felt quite similar despite the wider tires and lower body of the latter.

Handling is enhanced by the available four-wheel steering system and quicker steering ratio. The cars proved amazingly nimble given their weight of over two metric tons. That’s because the 93.4-kWh battery is mounted under the cabin, effectively lowering the centre of gravity. If you want to push the Taycan to the limit, you’ll have to do it on a track.

It’s the same thing when it comes to acceleration. Any kind of enthusiastic pressure on the throttle with the Turbo S will pin you to your seat and take your breath away. Wheelspin is totally inexistent. We didn’t even think about activating Sport + mode and launch control on the Danish roads to unleash the Taycan’s full power.

The slightly less brutal Turbo model is just as phenomenal under acceleration. We drove this one the second day on the famous German autobahns—the first time that any journalist had the opportunity to do so with the Taycan. Despite the traffic, we were able to reach a speed of 269 km/h in one particular section. That was an awesome experience, as you can imagine.

Even at such high velocities, the Taycan Turbo remains flawlessly stable and inspires total confidence. Braking power is equally remarkable thanks to 415-millimetre discs and 10-piston callipers up front. The available carbon-ceramic brakes (standard on Turbo S) are even larger. In both cars, modulating the brakes is effortless no matter what, which is extremely rare these days.

Also, the cockpit is eerily quiet: at 260 km/h, you can maintain a conversation without raising your voice at all. It’s impossible to do that at 100 km/h in certain sports cars. We were impressed.

At the end of our trip, it became absolutely clear that the 2020 Porsche Taycan is writing a new chapter in the history of the automobile, much like Ferdinand Porsche’s original electric vehicle that used four in-wheel motors over a century ago. The electrification at Porsche has only just begun and we’re sure the next act will be exciting, as well.

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