Autotrader: The 2020 Porsche Taycan: Watch out, Tesla
Those in doubt that there’s such a thing as an electric vehicle bandwagon need to take a gander at the all-new 2020 Porsche Taycan. It’s a fully electric plug-in sedan from the good folks who brought us the 911 and other asphalt-gobbling iron from Germany. The hardware rolling off the lines in Stuttgart and Leipzig seem to have one defining mission: Go fast, but always in luxury. A product of this trend, the new Taycan has a second assignment: Give the Tesla S nightmares.
, the Taycan begs comparison to the Tesla S. We won’t draw out all the comparisons that can be made, but we will point out that Porsche’s new EV sedan is the first real challenge to the S. The S has more range and a lower price tag, but Tesla also has a decade-long head start in battery development. Porsche will sort out the battery issue in short order. As for the price, the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are simply the first major rivalry in this EV cage match. Stay tuned. More affordable Taycan models are in the pipeline.
Here’s the back story. Porsche’s Mission E concept, an innovative pure electric design study that hinted at the company’s future direction, made its debut at the 2015 Frankfurt International Motor Show to very positive acclaim. Four years later, the German automaker has brought the show car to production fruition — launching as the 2020 Porsche Taycan.
Bearing striking resemblance to the Mission E concept — an accomplishment in and of itself — the Taycan is a sleek sport sedan boasting premium appointments, high levels of technical innovation and world-class performance. With all of that in mind, we are as confused by the names of this sedan’s first two trim levels, Turbo and Turbo S, as you. Neither is turbocharged. Heck, neither has an engine. Porsche defends the naming by reminding us Turbo and Turbo S follow Porsche nomenclature for the top trim levels of many of its models. Well, OK. Baffled though we are by the names, we are duly impressed with the car.
This is an all-new, fully electric sedan.
What we like
Slippery yet elegant styling
Premium interior with an accommodating back seat
What we don’t
Most popular safety and driver-assist features are optional
Confusing model nomenclature
Unlike all other electric vehicles on the market, which use 400-volt systems, Porsche has chosen an 800-volt electrical system. The higher voltage allows for smaller, stronger motors and thinner wires to provide better packaging and a lower weight. Both Taycan models share the same “Performance Battery Plus” battery pack — 396 individual lithium-ion cells with a combined storage capacity of 93.4 kWh — housed in a liquid-cooled and armored case. While the Environmental Protection Agency has not finalized a range, it is expected to be between 250-270 miles.
Owners with a common Level 2 charging unit may charge the vehicle in about nine hours at home or office. On the road, an expanding network of 270 kW DC fast chargers deliver a 5%-80% state-of-charge in about 22 minutes (or, they may add 60 miles of range in just five minutes). This makes the Porsche one of the fastest-charging vehicles available today.
The Taycan features a motor on both the front and rear axle. These liquid-cooled, permanently excited synchronous motors are lighter and more energy-efficient than commonplace AC induction motors. While one motor drives the front wheels with a 1-speed planetary gear, the rear wheels are driven by a motor mated to a 2-speed transmission, which improves acceleration and top speed. Total system power is 670 horsepower and 626 lb-ft of torque in the Taycan Turbo. The more powerful Turbo S has been tuned to deliver 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque.
Despite an all-aluminum body, the curb weight is in excess of 5,100 pounds. (Electric vehicles are typically about 500-1,500 pounds heavier than their combustion equivalents due to the battery weight.) Still, the Turbo S model will rocket to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. The Turbo model takes just 3.0 seconds. According to the automaker, both models top out at 160 mph.
Standard features and options
Although Porsche tells us that more affordable versions are on the way, the Taycan begins life with only its two premium grades: the Turbo and the Turbo S. Both offer a load of options. Pricing includes the $1,350 factory delivery fee.
The Turbo ($154,860) comes equipped with 20-in wheels, adaptive air suspension, white-painted brake calipers, launch control, torque vectoring, active air-intake flaps, adaptive rear spoiler, auto-dimming interior and exterior rearview mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and daytime running lights, interior ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating for four, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, 60/40 rear-seat folding backrest, heated front and rear seats, eight airbags, front and rear trunks, Warn and Brake Assist, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking assist, leather-wrapped steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, 16.8-in touchscreen, four USB-C ports, Bluetooth connectivity and interface, online navigation, Porsche Connect with Apple CarPlay and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio capability.
In place of or enhancement to the Turbo features, the Turbo S ($188,960) provides retuned electric motors for additional hp, 21-in wheels, ceramic composite brakes, 10-piston front calipers, yellow-painted brake calipers, rear fascia with carbon-fiber inlays, 18-way adaptive sport seats, two-tone Race-Tex interior including a headliner and steering wheel, and matte carbon fiber door sill guards and interior accents.
Many of the Turbo S upgrades and extra features are offered as options on the Turbo. The list of options and option packages is long and comprehensive. Some, like rear-wheel steering, are exotic. Others are more traditional. It’s pretty easy to drive the final price well above $200,000.
Both Taycan versions offer the usual list of safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, as well as eight airbags. Also standard are Porsche’s forward-collision warning system Warn and Brake Assist. Other standard systems include lane-keeping assist, road sign recognition, front and rear parking assist, and rearview camera. Options include surround-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, night-vision assist and lane-change assist.
No third party has safety tested nor crash tested the Taycan.
Behind the wheel
Thanks to the immense torque of the electric motors, the Taycan Turbo S accelerates with a startling — literally neck-snapping — immediacy. Mash the accelerator at any speed, and all occupants are forced into their seat backs with NASAlike G-force. Put more succinctly: We have never driven a vehicle that accelerates with such vitality.
And, the Taycan’s acceleration doesn’t dip as it hits triple-digit speeds. During our test drives, we legally blasted all the way to an electronically limited 167 miles per gallon on Germany’s unlimited-speed autobahn, passing every single combustion vehicle in the process. The Porsche’s low drag contributes to its rock-solid stability at speed, too. Most vehicles are a white-knuckle drive above 150 mph, but the Taycan Turbo S took it in stride.
While combustion vehicles make plenty of noise, the Taycan offers its owners the choice between a futuristic space sound (technically, it is “Porsche Electric Sport Sound”), which is a pleasant amplified motor whirl, or near-silence — just the wind rushing by the mirrors. We found reasons to enjoy both audio tracks, which is why the sound may be toggled on or off from the dashboard.
Considering the mass of its battery is slung just inches off the ground — the lowest of any production Porsche — the electric Taycan Turbo handles with astonishing stability. Throw it into a corner and it settles without bounding or bouncing, with sharp turns and accurate steering. The Turbo S features 21-in wheels with wide rubber (265/35R21 up front and 305/30R21 tires in the rear) that stick with tenacity.
As expected, Porsche complements the independent suspension geometry with plenty of acronym-laden goodies. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) controls the dampers, while Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) ensure stability and directional accuracy. And, while the ride is unquestionably sporty, it is also very comfortable, never harsh.
While most electric vehicles aggressively slow when the accelerator is lifted due to heavy electrical regeneration, Porsche has chosen to allow the Taycan Turbo to glide and conserve inertia. Regeneration only occurs when the brake pedal is depressed. This is more energy-efficient, say the company’s engineers, and the car control physics are more natural for talented drivers.
Other cars to consider
Breathing the same rarefied air as the Tesla S, there really aren’t any other direct EV competitors.
2020 Tesla S — The one that started it all, combining a fully electric plug-in system with an extremely long range and high-end performance. It offers a wider range and more affordable versions than Taycan.
2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid — No, it isn’t a fully electric plug-in, but it is a gas/electric hybrid. And, it’s a Porsche. Roomier than the Taycan, it performs much like a traditional luxury sport sedan.
If you absolutely can’t wait for the less-pricey versions promised to come in the near future, we suggest going with the Turbo. You can add just about anything extra that comes on the Turbo S. Moreover, even with the Turbo S, you have to pay extra for driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control and lane-change assist.