First drive: The base Taycan best translates the Porsche driving experience to EVs

“I’d have sworn it was a rear-drive 911 Carrera”
by Ollie Kew | Feb 7, 2021
PHOTO: TopGear.com
CAR BRANDS IN THIS ARTICLE
CAR MODELS IN THIS ARTICLE

An ‘entry-level’ Porsche. I smell some Top Gear Consumer Advice incoming.

Interesting car, this: the £70,690 (P4.63 million) baby Porsche Taycan. It’s the only flavor of Porsche’s electric fastback with no extra letters or words after its name—no ‘4S’ or ‘Turbo’ topper. This is as basic as the Taycan is going to get, assuming there’s not a secret prototype with plastic bumpers and wind-down windows hiding in Stuttgart.

It’s £13,000 (P852,000) cheaper than the 4S, which has—as the name hints—four-wheel drive and more power. It makes do with only one motor—the 4S’s rear motor, in fact—driving the rear wheels.

Officially, Porsche rates the car good for 321hp, but it ‘overboosts’ to 402hp when you flatten the throttle, and realistically, you’re never going to be gunning the thing for long enough to feel the urgency drop off.

How many of these are actually going to cost £70k?

The Porsche Taycan on the road

Continue reading below ↓
Continue reading below ↓
Recommended Videos

Not many, I’ll bet, because just like toppier Taycans, Porsche offers sorely tempting options. And no, I don’t just mean £450 (P30,000) for a motorized charging-port door that glides open with the slick precision of a Japanese toilet seat.

Porsche believes Taycan buyers add 10-15% onto the base price of their shiny new EV in extra garnish, tech, and features. Top of the list for £4,800 (P315,000), Porsche will sell you more range. The ‘Performance Battery Plus’ ups capacity from 79kWh to 93kWh, and claimed range leaps from 430km to around 480km.

I think folks mulling which Taycan to choose will look at those numbers, decide the rear-drive one is rapid enough, and ‘invest’ the saving in that bigger battery. Then they’ll get a pleasant surprise. The battery upgrade uncorks more power: 375hp as standard, with bursts of 469hp in Sport Plus mode.

That makes it much faster, I guess?

The Porsche Taycan angled top view

Continue reading below ↓

Actually...no. Both versions take 5.4sec to hit 100kph, because the more powerful spec has to lug along a heavier battery. And that means the slowest Taycan takes twice as long as a Turbo S version do achieve the 0-100 sprint.

The g-forces merely tickle your tummy, instead of emptying it all over the dashboard—in Normal mode at least. Crank things up to Sport Plus and it instantly morphs from ‘adequately brisk’ to ‘I hope that wasn’t a police car back there.’

Bet it’s a bit skiddy with all that torque and only rear-wheel drive?

Not so—it puts all its 639Nm down beautifully. Of course it should, since it weighs as much as a Range Rover Sport does. But if you’re talking yourself into ‘needing’ the 4S because you’re afraid of all that on-demand twist having a squirrely interface with a damp roundabout, save yourself the expense. Unless you live somewhere snowy, or you’re the heir to a ski-lift empire.

Continue reading below ↓

But electric vehicles are all about turning your cheeks inside out with rocket-sled acceleration, no?

The Porsche Taycan rear view on the road

I preferred all-out acceleration in the Taycan to going horizon-chasing in the Turbo S. You’ve got all the surging insta-punch you could ever ask for, but it happens more smoothly.

Acceleration here is a languid squeeeeeeze, not a couple of savage neck-snapping jabs before you’re jumping two-footed onto the brake pedal to restrain 2.1 tons of lithium and leather.

Continue reading below ↓

I think you’ll find a Tesla Model S Long Range Plus costs £80,000, does 0-97kph in 3.7sec, and claims over 640km of range. Case closed.

Can’t argue with that. No one, not even Porsche, has an answer for Tesla’s raw specs right now. But Tesla, I think you’ll find, hasn’t got anything close to the sheer handling talent or rich interior quality of Porsche’s electric four-door.

The Porsche Taycan front view on the road

Continue reading below ↓

What I’m saying is, don’t write the Taycan off purely based on a soulless Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Not if you like cars more than you fetishize numbers.

Shots fired. So, what’s it like to drive the slowest, cheapest electric Porsche?

Not a slow, nor a cheap-feeling experience. This test car had the Performance Battery Plus, and declared itself fit for a 330km range having preconditioned the cabin just so on a frigid January morning.

Some 165km later, having been mercilessly flung down many B-roads, imperiously cruised along highways at outside-lane speeds, and threaded through several towns, the car declared 160km of range was left, with power consumption running at an impressive 3.7km per kWh.

The Porsche Taycan elevated profile vew

Continue reading below ↓

That’s your low-end, worst-case scenario. My helium-footed colleague Tom Harrison borrowed the Taycan 4S over Christmas and got 4.3km per kWh without much effort, even in the bleak midwinter. Real-world, this is a 400km+ car.

I said what’s it like to drive, not how great is the range...

I’ve driven the slowest Taycan and the fastest one, and you know what? I prefer this one to the Turbo S.

The steering, now uncorrupted by any torque flowing through the front axle, is standout—if I were blindfolded and a flat-six backing track was played though the audio system, I’d have sworn it was a rear-drive 911 Carrera. The weighting, the turn-in, the feedback—it’s all world-class. Steering like this makes a car feel well-engineered and expensive all on its own.

The Porsche Taycan profile view on the road

Continue reading below ↓

So’s the ride, the body control, and the balance. Although this base variant is the only Taycan to ride on steel springs as standard, the test car had cheekily optioned in air suspension. Worth the investment? Can’t say without a back-to-back test, but the adaptive system is gorgeously supple when you want to relax, yet disciplined if you’re cracking on.

The brakes remain a slight bugbear—they’re not quite as natural as ‘analog’ stopping, but Porsche has nailed the regen pedal response better than anyone yet. The engineers say a heap of calibration work has been lavished on this rear-drive car, which no longer has a front motor to act as generator when you slam on the anchors.

Do you think this is the Taycan to have?

Considering its price, plus the inevitable extra cash for the bigger battery and a few bits and bobs inside, no other electric car offers this much quality and such a complete, enjoyable drive. An Audi e-tron, a Jaguar I-Pace, or assorted Teslas can offer you more space—or a lot more range—but if you want an EV that’s more than just numberwang, nothing is this complete.

Continue reading below ↓

The Porsche Taycan rear view parked

There’s something else, too. The newest Porsche, and the most tricky for the purists to make friends with, now shares a common piece of family folklore with the iconic, evergreen 911.

With both cars, it’s pretty tricky (though not impossible) to buy a bad one. But just as we stagger out of a ballistic 911 Turbo S and find ourselves craving the simpler pleasures of a regular Carrera, the lowest-priced, slowest Taycan is all the electric Porsche you need.

Continue reading below ↓

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

See Also

PHOTO: TopGear.com
  • Quiz Results

  • TGP Rating:
    /20

    Starts at ₱

    TGP Rating:
    /20
    Starts at ₱