I’ve just been driving the electrifying new entry-level version of Porsche’s battery-powered zero-emissions Taycan sports coupe.
It might be the cheapest on offer, but I’d hesitate to say affordable, as the list price of the new all-wheel-drive Taycan 4S starts from £83,367 – and well-heeled customers for this exciting pure electric sporting grand tourer could easily add another £35,000 with those must-have little extras.
With such beautiful styling and well-crafted German engineering – it’s built in a green factory in the Zuffenhausen district of Stuttgart – you could hardly call this Tesla Model S challenger bog-standard.
But if you want sporting prowess without breaking the bank totally, this could be the Taycan for you – delivering much, though not all, of the punch and performance of its beefier slightly older siblings, the Turbo and Turbo S models, which, being electric, are oddly named given they have no turbochargers whatsoever.
Porsche with a plug: The Taycan is the German auto manufacturer’s first all-electric model. Can it prove that sports cars can be fun when they’re forced to produce zero emissions?
Driving from central Los Angeles into the winding mountain roads and the Hollywood Hills proved a perfect test of its rock-solid handling and exhilarating acceleration ahead of it reaching UK showrooms in March 2020.
Not overwhelming and never underpowered, it proved a well-balanced, good-mannered, but exceptionally engaging drive, with top speed restricted to 155mph should you venture onto the track or de-restricted German Autobahns.
It felt like a real Porsche, not just an electric Porsche. No excuses required. It’s the real deal.
It’s got more driving dynamic tech, intelligent chassis control, and adaptive air suspension than you could wave a stick at.
The special electronic Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus set-up (a £1,052 option) moves power to the wheels where its most needed five times faster than in a conventional system. Suffice it to say it rides like an express train on rails and feels superbly solid, secure and engaging throughout.
The launch control gives you an instant power boost for a really rocket-propelled Fast and Furious style getaway from rest.
But the one little niggle, that both my co-driver and I began to find a little irritating, was the background electric turbine whine which we’d have preferred to mute in favour of the sound of silence.
There is a button to control such things, but we were too busy enjoying the drive to fiddle through the digital touch-screen menus.
Ray Massey says the £83,000 Taycan has more driving dynamic tech, intelligent chassis control, and adaptive air suspension than you could wave a stick at
Not over-whelming and never underpowered, it proved a well-balanced, good-mannered, but exceptionally engaging drive. Ray Massey said: ‘It’s the real deal’
The 4S comes as standard with a part-leather interior, but buyers can choose an option from £2,538 of upgrading either to full-leather or to a non-leather vegan option using leather-free artificial fabrics and coverings
The Taycan – Porsche’s first fully electric car – evolved from the prototype Mission-E shown first at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015.
It certainly looks the part, lying low and wide at the front and rear, and with a long, aerodynamic silhouette from the side. With the battery packs sitting on the underside of the vehicle, that low centre of gravity and 2.2 tonnes of weight also helps with stability.
And cocooned inside with a hi-tech curved wrap-around driver dashboard and comfortably supportive sports seats feels less like being in the cockpit of a fighter jet, and more like being at the helm of a Star Trek or Star Wars-style spaceship interceptor. Warp factor three, Mr Scott.
The Taycan 4S is powered by two electric motors, one on the front axle and the other on the rear.
Taycan 4S comes as standard with a Performance battery, but customers have the option of adding the more powerful Performance Plus battery which costs an extra £4,613 and adds 80kg in weight
The new entry-level Taycan 4S is powered by two electric motors, one on the front axle and the other on the rear
There are two charging ports – one on each front wing. Both can handle AC charging. The high power DC chare port will be on the nearside depending on whether the car is a right or left-hand drive
It comes as standard with a Performance battery, but customers have the option of adding the more powerful Performance Plus battery which costs an extra £4,613 and adds 80kg in weight.
However, while the 0 to 60mph sprint time remains the same at 3.8 seconds (0-62mph in 4.0 seconds), it will shave 0.2 of seconds off the time from rest to 99mph (8.7 vs 8.5 seconds), and 0.3 seconds off the time to 124mph (13.3 vs12.9 seconds).
It will also boost the driving range by about 35 miles – from up to 252 miles to 287 miles- and improve the charging times.
It’s worth putting the new base-level 530 horsepower 4S into context. Its base price of £83,367 is £32,491 cheaper than the 680pS Turbo costing from £115,858, and £55,459 less than the range-topping 761PS TurboS which is priced from £138,826.
The Taycan 4S’s rear axle has a smaller but permanently excited electric motor than on the existing Turbo and Turbo S models. Sounds fruity, nevertheless.
It certainly looks like a Porsche but the styling can’t be fully appreciated until you see it in the flesh
As with any model produced by the Stuttgart sports car maker, the interior is sublime and caked in luxurious materials
The standard Performance battery the Taycan 4S has an official range of up to 252 miles, extended to 287 miles with the Performance Plus package
Its 0 to 62mph acceleration of four seconds and top speed of 155mph on 19-inch wheels compares to 3.2 seconds and 161mph for the Turbo on 20-inch wheels and a rocketing 2.8 seconds (and same 161mph) for the Turbo S on 21 inch wheels.
Standard braking is on steel brakes, compared to surface-coated versions for the Turbo and ceramic brakes for the Turbo S, though these can be a £6,321 option.
Nor should you worry too much about range anxiety of this awesome all-electric Tesla-buster. With the standard Performance battery the Taycan 4S has an official range of up to 252 miles, extended to 287 miles with the Performance Plus package.
A recuperative drive system reclaims and reuses energy to keep the batteries topped up and give added oomph to the car under hard acceleration
For £354 extra drivers can get an optional Porsche Electric Sport Sound to enhance that even more with a ‘clear statement about the electric drive but unquestionably the sound of a true Porsche’
Ray warned that if you do go for the bog-standard Taycan 4s, make sure you’re flush with cash to pay for the extras you’ll need or want
The recuperative drive system, which reclaims and reuses energy to keep the batteries topped up and give added oomph to the car under hard acceleration, means that some 90 per cent of the braking from everyday use is performed through the resistance of the electric motors alone, without the driver needing to touch the brakes.
Porsche Taycan 4S: Will it fit in my garage?
Style: Electric all-wheel drive sports coupe
Built: Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, Germany
CO2 emissions: Zero
Order books open: Now
First deliveries: March 2020
Price: from £83,367
Price of additional Performance battery Plus: £4,613
Propulsion: Two electric motors: one front, one rear
Top speed: 155mph (restricted)
Width: (with mirrors): 2144mm
Width (without mirrors): 1,966mm
Front axle – single-speed transmission
Rear axle – 2-speed transmission
DC 50kW up to 80%: 93 minutes
High power charging stations (255kW/270kW) DC maximum capacity up to 80%: 22.5 minutes
And to get 62 miles’ distance: 5 minutes to 5.5 minutes
Home-charger 11kW (AC) up to 100%: overnight 8 to 9 hours.
Rear: 407 litres
Front: 81 litres
Batteries: Standard ‘Performance’ battery: 79.2kWh
Power: 435PS Overboost power for launch control: 530PS
0-60mph: 3.8 seconds
0-62mph (100km/hr): 4.0 seconds
0-99mph (160km/hr): 8.7 seconds
0-124mph (200km/hr): 13.3 seconds
¼ mile: 12.3 seconds
Distance after 2.5 seconds: 21.0m
Range: up to 252 miles
Weight of car with this battery: 2,140kg
The car firm has worked also hard to create an emotive electric sound for its new all-electric Taycan – especially during acceleration and deceleration.
And for £354 drivers can get an optional Porsche Electric Sport Sound to enhance that even more with a ‘clear statement about the electric drive but unquestionably the sound of a true Porsche’.
The firm says it ‘makes the vehicle’s electric drive sound even richer and more emotionally charged with its innovative character both on the outside and inside’.
However it is a bit of a Marmite feature and has shades of Star Wars about it. It may take some getting used to.
Whizzing up a twisting mountainside, the sound became more of a background irritation that a sporty acoustic accompaniment.
Thankfully the enhanced electric sport sound can be switched on and off.
The acoustic warning system, however, is there to warn pedestrians and other vulnerable road users of the Taycan’s approach at slower speeds and is a legal requirement so cannot be deactivated.
There’s plenty of luggage space with 407 litres at the rear in the traditional boot and a further 81 litres at the front – under the bonnet – in the space where a traditional engine would usually be.
Towards the end of my extensive drive, I helped charge up the car at a shopping mall on the outskirts of LA. It was easy enough – and quick.
There are two charging ports – one on each front wing. Both can handle AC charging. The high power DC chare port will be on the nearside depending on whether the car is a right or left-hand drive.
Using the direct current DC 50kW charger to get up to 80 per cent power takes 93 minutes.
But the high power DC charging stations like the one I was visiting in the mall car-park takes 22.5 minutes, which is about how long I was there.
And if you only need a quick burst to get you that last stretch to your destination, getting enough juice to travel 62 miles takes between 5 minutes and 5.5 minutes, depending on your battery choice.
Using an 11kW alternating current (AC) home charger overnight will fully power up your car in about 8 to nine hours.
Be warned, however. There are countless options to bump up that basic price. I even specced one up for fun using the online Porsche car configurator and quickly accelerated from base price £83,367 to just shy of £120,000.
The 4S comes as standard with a part-leather interior, but buyers can choose an option from £2,538 of upgrading either to full-leather or to a non-leather vegan option using leather-free artificial fabrics and coverings, including a floor covering made from recycled fishing nets.
LED lights are standard, but the more advanced LED Matrix lights will add £1,221. Night vision assist is another £1,566.
A sport designer package with extra bling and side-skirts adds £3,282. And if you’re tempted by the 21-inch Mission-E designer wheels, set aside £2,997. Thermally and noise-insulated privacy glass adds £1,301.
The rather fetching passenger display, which allows your front seat companion to play with some of the controls such as hi-fi and creates a stylish line across the dashboard, is £725. A panoramic glass roof is £1,137 and adaptive sports seats a £1,440 add-on.
So if you do go for the bog-standard Taycan 4s – make sure you’re flush with cash. You may be tempted to spend more of it than you planned.
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