Amazing! That was the almost immediate, texted assessment from The Driven’s chief writer Bridie Schmidt soon after she took delivery of our media loan fully electric Porsche Taycan. And why would anyone expect anything different of a product from this legendary auto brand that starts at around $200,000 and could easily cost more than $300,000 with the addition of some turbo and other features!
So expectations were high when it came to my turn to drive the electric Porsche Taycan for a few days. But soon after I took delivery of the car and took off down the street, one thought suddenly occurred to me as I approached the first corner and eased off on the accelerator: How the the bloody hell do I slow it down?
A split second later I discovered the brake and the corner was saved. What I had been anticipating as I took my foot off the accelerator was that the regenerative braking would take hold and slow the car down as it does in my Tesla Model 3, and virtually every other EV I have driven.
Had I done my research before taking the wheel of the Taycan I would have known that that is not the way they do things at Porsche. In the name of efficiency the German brand went off and invested goodness knows how much in engineering a new braking system that is both stunningly regenerative, and also does not impact on performance.
Why? Because at Porsche, the very notion that a car should “throw out the anchors” when drivers take their foot off the accelerator as they roar down the autobahn contradicts everything the brand stands for. And besides, no Porsche driver wants to do anything that would impact on their lap times.
Welcome to the world of Porsche, the brand that invites the driver to imagine that you are, or might have been, or might still one day be, a racing car driver. Or, at the very least, someone very special. And with deep pockets.
No “head tossing” in this EV
Apart from its look, and its hefty price tag, the lack of a “one pedal” driving seems to be the biggest difference between Porsche and other EVs, particularly the Tesla Model S which threatens its status as the fastest accelerating car on the planet, and dared to challenge its lap times at the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife cirtcuit in Porsche’s own backyard.
Porsche scoffs at the idea of the “one pedal” drive that is championed by other EV manufacturers. From their marketing blurb: “When lifting off the accelerator pedal the Taycan behaves like a conventional sports car, avoiding sudden ‘head-toss’ braking-like deceleration.”
Porsche went to a lot of trouble developing its own technology for “recuperation” that wouldn’t impede their customers’ lap times. The regenerative braking is now triggered by the brake pedal itself.
Which means that if the Taycan must slow down, to negotiate corners and avoid other traffic and pedestrians and other objects, the driver applies the brake pedal in the normal way, which in turn engages the “recuperation”. The physical brakes are acutally only engaged in an emergency or sudden stop. It’s wonderfully efficient, and its recuperation peaks at an impressive 270 kW.
Porsche does not do “eco”, it does “range”
The performance theme continues through the rest of the set-up. Most EVs offer sports, normal and eco mode. Not in the Taycan they don’t, the most modest drive mode in the Taycan is called “range”.
And what are these limitations in “range” mode? It turns out it’s an “inability” to go faster than 100km/h. It might appear to be an admission that Porsche drivers need other forces to stop them going as fast as they can, were it not for the fact that to get around this limitation the driver simply has to put their foot on the accelerator. In the end, the very notion that you could restrain a Porsche driver must be seen to be a lost cause.
EVs are fun to drive because they have instant torque, which means quick acceleration, and their low centre of gravity – courtesy of the weight of the battery – means they handle extremely well. And, or course, they are very quiet, apart from the road noise of the tyres.
The Porsche Taycan is a beast of a vehicle. It weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes, but it doesn’t feel like a truck. It just feels incredibly well grounded and responsive. In Sports extra mode, it can accelerate to 100kms in around 2.4 seconds. As I discovered, with some pleasure, it can take a passenger by surprise, eliciting an audible “holy shit” and a comparison to a jet on a runway.
The Taycan’s movement is generally accompanied by a faint electronic whir, as if spatial awareness isn’t enough to convince a Porsche driver of his or her performance, so it needs some sort of aural affirmation.
This can be enhanced with some added noise in ultra sport mode. At first I thought this actually sounded like extra road noise, but others were more impressed. Such a shame that the rattly sound of an old VW engine you get in some of the older Porsche models was not considered.
The only other noise of note comes from a croaking frog type sound that is triggered as a discreet warning if you cross double lines or wander out of your lane. It’s more agreeable than beeps issued by Tesla for the same reasons.
This is, no doubt about it, a magnificent looking car, with great lines. I appreciated the ability to raise the suspension, which made it easier to negotiate our shared dirt driveway that has been trashed by our new, self-absorbed neighbours.
The inside is as good as you would expect from such an expensive car. The driver’s seat obligingly retreats to allow more space for the driver to get in, and the panoramic dashboard presentation is really well done. The Taycan even has a “frunk” – a trunk at the front. My main quibble was the rear camera, it was not nearly as sharp or clear as that in my Model 3.
This was, I have to admit, my first experience in a Porsche, which means that I can’t give a comparison to the brand’s fossil fuel versions. It seems to me to be nothing short of marvelous, and the sales data from its first few months in Australia indicate that Porsche aficionados are impressed with the new electric addition.
The Taycan has accounted for an extraordinary 50 per cent share of the company’s passenger car sales in Australia in 2021 to date, and now it’s rolling out an “entry level” version and a Gran Turismo version.
The Taycan is supposed to be capable of ultra-fast charging, at more than 250kW, because Porsche drivers of course, wouldn’t want to wait too long at a charging station. But good luck finding one of those that works in Australia – many of those that have been installed are struggling to charge at that rate because of local network limitations.
As I drove back to Brisbane in the intense rain, after a thoroughly enjoyable if self conscious (the price of driving a Porche) few days, I checked out my average “fuel consumption”. It stood at just over 220 watts per kilometre.
That’s more than 50 per cent more than the average from my Model 3 (achieved over 58,000kms). Granted, I had been enjoying testing out the Taycan’s acceleration in the windy, hilly roads in our neighbourhood, but that average seems about right, given that the 80kWh battery is designed to deliver a range of around 400km.
I doubt, however, that the Taycan owners would be in the least bit phased. After all, it’s mostly about the lap times and not throwing out the anchors..