The Porsche Taycan Turbo S in one word: electrifying
With the overwhelmingly quick Taycan, Porsche has thrown down the gauntlet in the high-performance, electric four-door sports car market
Ferdinand Porsche was on the right side of history. While "electrification" is among a litany of buzzwords in the 2020 automotive lexicon, he contemplated the notion as far back as 1898.
Little known fact: a battery-powered horseless carriage was indeed his first vehicular creation. Dubbed the Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton, the concept was commissioned by Ludwig Lohner, proprietor of a Viennese coach-building firm.
But the engineering limitations were clear. A meagre power output, the unfeasible mass of the battery setup and a laughable travelling range affirmed the superior efficiency of internal combustion.
In the Porsche brand story, it has taken some 122 years for the volt-powered tortoise to catch up to the fossil-fuelled hare. Its first all-electric production vehicle, the Taycan, was launched in SA this month. There are marked differences between it and the 18th-century spiritual genesis.
For example, the motor of the C.2 produced 4kW and delivered a top speed of 25km/h. Meanwhile, the Taycan Turbo S we drove has a combined system output of 560kW and 1,050Nm.
While its terminal velocity of 260km/h is decidedly average by modern performance car standards, the 0-100km/h sprint time is astonishing at 2.8 seconds. Yes, the speedometer of the 911 (992) Turbo could collect that trio of digits in the same, short duration.
But you could debate that the impact of this sprint from behind the wheel of the Taycan is more impressive. And the reason for that is simple. Transmission of power to wheels to asphalt in the petrol-reliant counterpart is a complicated process, as you know. Fires must be ignited. And intricate, oiled, mechanical tapestries must come together before culminating in motion.
In an electric vehicle, there are no such delays. The interval between a depressed accelerator and the increased playback speed of the scenery outside is literally nil.
From standstill, the instantaneous, herculean snap of torque from the two motors at either end of the Porsche can be overwhelming the first time.
Overwhelming at first, then addictive: the sensation of unfettered acceleration, of being sucked into the horizon through a wormhole, in relative silence.
Aside from the expected intonation of tyre and wind noise at higher speeds, a muted, turbine-like whine is the only battle cry from the Taycan. Porsche incorporated an "Electric Sport Sound" for mild aural theatrics, which can be deactivated.
So, it certainly performs in a manner befitting the iconic golden crest. Does it convey that promised essence of soulfulness in driver feedback and handling reflexes?
Well, using more conventional Porsche athletes like the 911 or 718 Cayman as reference points, the answer is a resounding … sort of.
It is going to take some time to acclimatise to the rhythm of a full-electric sports car. We can say that its responses are lizard-quick, with outstanding stability, chiefly thanks to the inclusion of rear-wheel steering, standard in the Turbo S. The second contributing factor is the low centre of gravity afforded by the placement of the 800-volt battery system, which is sandwiched between the chassis and the passenger compartment.
All-wheel drive ensured the Taycan was unflappable under more spirited cornering demands as evidenced in the film by motoring journalist extraordinaire Chris Harris, but there's a great depth of potential for exquisite drift-ability.
• 4S: R2,586,000
• Turbo: R3,426,000
• Turbo S: R4,027,000
This is something we never attempted, of course, during our 250km test session spanning across Gauteng and with North West border flirtations. Varying road surfaces, including sections under construction, proved a formidable test for the ground-hugging Porsche, which countered with the benefits of pneumatic suspension.
Additional hardware includes an electronically controlled differential lock at the rear axle and carbon ceramic brakes.
I should, at this point, talk about practicalities. Filling it up? That will take around 4.5 hours via the Home Energy Manager (HEM) Porsche will provide, facilitating a 22kW charging capacity. Alternatively, fast-charging points are in the works for Porsche Centre outlets nationwide, which will enable an 80% re-charge in as little as 22.5 minutes. In ideal conditions you could see as much as 412km on a full battery.
A rear luggage compartment of 366l is complemented by a small frontal trunk, good for holding 81l of stuff.
With the Taycan, the Stuttgart sports car doyenne has thrown down the gauntlet in the high-performance, electric four-door niche. We suspect it might stay there for some time to come.