Entry-level Porsche Taycan retains some of that Turbo S spark
You'll be able to fend off competition from most hot hatchbacks in this electrifying ride
One of the most spectacular cars launched locally in 2020 was the Porsche Taycan Turbo S. The anticipation was great — as it was always going to be. The curiosity levels of any person with even a casual interest in cars would have been piqued by the first-ever production electric vehicle from a brand so steeped in sporting pedigree.
And it exceeded expectations.
One braced for a rapid but ultimately soulless driving experience — quiet, clinical and underwhelming in comparison to the immersive tools usually produced by Porsche.
Soon after, with internals properly stirred, my opinion had been altered. One of the spellbinding aspects of the Turbo S was its acceleration. Even seasoned road-testers found it hard to unpack the sensation of 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds.
It was the immediacy of the whole experience. No delay between prodding the pedal and powering through the horizon. The accelerator pedal felt very much like a light switch.
It sounded characterful too, with a whizzing and buzzing type of soundtrack synthesised into the mix.
From the frenzied performance to the excitement of simply being out on countryside roads post-lockdown, by the time I got back to Porsche HQ my yellow protective kitchen gloves were drenched.
Last week the automaker unveiled its newest addition to the Taycan family, the entry-level, rear-wheel-drive model slotting beneath the 4S. Some mental preparation was needed, recalling the sprain-inducing pace of that first Turbo S interaction.
After nosing out of the gate and depressing the accelerator with a smidgen of verve down the main road, the baby Taycan gave the impression of swiftness without overwhelming the senses. Pleasant.
And that set the tone for the two days of evaluation that followed. The base Taycan is available with a choice of two batteries, the first packing an output of 300kW, while the uprated version offers 350kW.
A 5.4-second sprint time is certainly nothing to be scoffed at. You will still be able to fend off competition from most hot hatchbacks out there. But as with the Turbo S - and this is a characteristic of electric vehicles in general - the instantaneous kick is the big factor.
From a handling point of view, the Taycan was agile and planted. Steel springs are standard, although air suspension is optional.
You might recall that the rear-wheel drive model is the holder of a Guinness World Record for the longest drift in an electric car. The only time the rear wheels scrabbled for purchase in my possession was when loose gravel was encountered on the tarmac.
You would have to be Chris Harris to get the car properly unseated: in all conditions it feels confidently grafted to the ground. The low, snug seating position is one that 718 Boxster, Cayman or 911 owners would find familiar.
There are not many buttons in the interior, with virtually all functions operated via the central, 10.9-inch display.
It is also the first contemporary Porsche model to feature a leather-free interior, with recycled materials mirroring the sustainable philosophy underpinning the whole exercise.
A grocery-getting mission saw total use of the front (84l) storage compartment, while the 407l boot would easily accommodate overnight luggage for four occupants.
And would touring over lengthier distances be feasible? Absolutely. Obviously, you would need to plan your route and scout charging opportunities in advance.
But the range is certainly sufficient: after driving 174km (mostly in Sport mode) the onboard computer still indicated a remaining range of 224km. Porsche says a range of 484km can be expected in ideal conditions. Fast-charging capability allows 80% in as little as 22.5 minutes.
It is slightly more attainable than the Turbo S, whose asking price is R4,077,000. The base Taycan kicks off at R2,227,000 — or roughly the same price as a 911 Carrera 4S (R2,180,000).
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