On car Twitter recently, numerous colleagues talked about the double-standard performance EVs are held to that gas-powered sports cars are not: range.
Motor: 2x permanent-magnet synchronous motors
Output: 616 hp, 627 lb-ft (670 hp w/ Launch Control)
Transmission: 2AT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPGe): 68/71/69
CAN fuel economy (Le/100KM): 3.5/3.3/3.4
Starting Price (USD): $105,150 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $168,190 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $120,900 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $193,240 (inc. dest.)
No EV discussion is free from the five-letter R-word, and sure enough, every friend and family member asked about the Taycan Turbo’s when I had it for a week.
I admit, I got sucked into it. I even told the Porsche PR person that I’d be doing a range test. The good news is that the Taycan Turbo handily crushed its EPA-quoted range. The even better news is that the ultimate range isn’t terribly important. The Taycan isn’t Porsche’s take on the electric car: it’s the brand’s vision of what a four-door Porsche can be with an electric heart. It’s a subtle distinction, but I’m happy to report it succeeds brilliantly, offering a breadth of abilities with the electrified soul of a sports car.
Make mine a Turbo
Much snickering has been made about Porsche’s decision to badge the higher-rung Taycans as Turbos. It’s all-electric, there are none, we know. With the proliferation of turbos across nearly all engines in the Porsche lineup though, it was already clear that “Turbo” was now the top non-GT trim, and so it is here too.
Well, almost. Like the 911 and now the Panamera, there’s a Turbo S sitting atop the Taycan pile. It uses the same 93.4-kWh battery pack as my Turbo tester. When using Launch Control however, the Turbo S out-muscles the regular Turbo, to the tune of 750 hp (versus 670) and a mammoth 774 lb-ft (vs 627). The extra muscle comes thanks to a 600-amp front inverter in the Turbo S; the standard turbo uses a 300-amp unit.
Nothing quite prepares you for that first launch, even as the driver. It’s simple to access: twist the steering-mounted dial to Sport Plus, left foot on brake, right foot on gas, wait for the LC prompt, then hold on. The relative quiet adds to the shock, with only the slightest chirp from the tires and the sound of internal organs rearranging. The Taycan doesn’t so much launch forward as it pulls the horizon towards you. Maybe that was from my eyeballs flattening.
The ace in the Taycan’s hand is its two-speed rear transmission. It allows for a more relaxed, range-enhancing highway drive while also offering that ballistic launch.
Oh yeah, the range? I managed a hair shy of 225 miles (362 km) between charges, with only occasional Range driving mode use, and a handful of launches. The Taycan is the first production car to use 800-volt architecture. That translates to quicker charge times: Porsche quotes an 80-percent recharge can happen in as little as 22.5 minutes. My top-up isn’t far off that: at a 150-kW spot, it moves from 2 to 73 percent in a little under half an hour.
Keeping all those electric ponies under control
No automaker, not even Porsche, has been able to bend reality to such a degree that batteries aren’t still massively heavy things. My Taycan Turbo tester is the porkiest of the lineup, tipping the scales at 5,081 lb (2,305 kg), slightly more than the S. However, that big battery pack sits low in the chassis, giving the Taycan reflexes akin to a big four-door 718 Cayman.
Porsche has also thrown an entire battery of tech at the chassis, including a standard three-chamber air suspension and rear-wheel steering. My tester features the optional electromechanical anti-roll bar system, which further stiffens up the suspension in the bends without sacrificing straight-line comfort.
The result is a surprisingly satisfying steer. You know the Taycan possesses thousands of times the computing power of Apollo 11, yet technology never dictates the driving experience. The right-sized steering wheel, for instance, feels organic in its feedback and weighting. The Taycan tears into corners with tenacity, the 245-series front rubber simply refusing to let go. There’s also little in the way of body roll thanks to the optional PDCC system. The rear-wheel steering chops what feels like at least a foot or two out of the Taycan’s 195.4 inches (4,963 mm) length too.
Special mention goes to the brakes too. Driving on the road, I never got remotely close to their performance limits, but they felt Herculean when called upon. By default, The Taycan doesn’t feature the same aggressive regenerative braking as other EVs, as Porsche argues it’s more efficient to slow down, er, slowly, than to fluctuate. In Sport and Sport Plus mode, the regen is higher, simulating ICE engine braking, and you can turn it on manually in other modes.
A room with a view
If there’s one area the Taycan didn’t utterly wow me, it was its interior. It’s a fine place to be, with the typically high levels fit and finish expected of both a Porsche and a car with a price tag floating around $150,000. Yet after the delicious truffle brown leather of the 911, or the charming checkered seats of the Cayenne Coupe GTS, the Taycan’s monotone black interior lacked the sense of occasion the exterior so encapsulates. Luckily, that same truffle brown is available, using a sustainable tanning process involving olive leaves. The panoramic glass roof of the tester at least helps make it all feel airier.
Every Porsche I’ve sat in this year has utterly nailed the driving position, and the Taycan continues the trend. Standard 14-way adjustable seats help, making it easy for folks of nearly any proportion to find their fit. There’s just the right amount of bolstering, keeping driver (and passenger) in place during more, uh … spirited driving.
The back row is also quite comfortable. Again, the glass roof helps with the sense of space, as well as freeing up a little bit of head room. Thanks to what Porsche calls “foot garages” (little recesses in the battery pack), leg room is also perfectly serviceable, even for those 6’0″ or so.
Screens, screens, everywhere a screen
There are a lot of digital displays in the Taycan, befitting its role as tech showcase. The curved instrument panel is the most impressive: it’s crisp, quick to respond, and eminently customizable. Keeping the navigation map up on the right is useful; the g-meter on the left isn’t, but it sure is fun. A 10.9-inch central screen handles most infotainment duties, with a smaller, 8.4-inch screen below that for climate controls. There’s a lot to take in. Precious few physical buttons exist, but Porsche at least meets users halfway with haptic feedback. It’s easy enough to get comfortable with the system. I can’t say the same for the odd shifter placement though, just behind the right side of the steering wheel. Even on my last day with the Taycan I’d fumble with that.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Review
Dive into the lengthy options list and you can add another two screens. One is for rear-seat passengers, if you’ve checked the four-zone climate control box. The other is a small screen embedded in the right side of the dash, for the front passenger. It’s not particularly useful: anything available there is available in the central screen.
My tester is fairly lightly specced compared to most Porsche press cars. It does feature the Premium Package, which includes a 360-degree camera; pretty much mandatory for tight, underground parking navigation. I’m less enamoured with Porsche’s InnoDrive: the advanced cruise control system uses a combination of sensors, cameras, and the navigation system to adjust the car’s speed. While it worked on a straight bit of highway, it abruptly dropped from 70 to 37 mph when a corner appeared. There were no cars ahead of me, and—thankfully—none too close behind either.
Verdict: 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo Review
It might have an electric heart, but that’s the thing: the Taycan has what the Tin Man always wanted. It’s not a numb, efficiency-above-all-else personal conveyance device. The Taycan is fast, involving, and features a depth of personality unlike any other EV I’ve driven.
There are myriad options at this stratospheric price range, but nothing quite aligns. The BMW M8 Gran Coupe is one, but it’s a sledgehammer to the Taycan’s electrified scalpel. Same too the Mercedes-AMG GT four-door. The Taycan is able to out-waft either, tootling around in near-silence, yet its vast power and sublime handling make it a blast in the twisties too. The Taycan is an EV to lust over—which is as much a sign as any that it is a true Porsche after all.
Discuss the Porsche Taycan at our Taycan EV forum.
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