Before you get behind the wheel of a Porsche Taycan Turbo, some words of warning.
First, remember to let your passengers know before you do anything insane — and it will be hard, as a new Turbo driver, to drive the Turbo in a calm, collected manner. The car begs to be driven as if you’ve just stolen it.
Your passengers need to be told to brace themselves and hang on. This is not just an amusing comment; some Taycan Turbo passengers have suffered neck injuries because of enthusiastic drivers.
Here’s why: The Taycan Turbo can go from a stop to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, to 160 km/h in 6.9 seconds, and to 200 km/h in 10.6 seconds. Top speed is 260 km/h. That’s impound the car, lock up the driver, toss away the key territory. (And the Turbo is not even the fastest Taycan — that honour goes to the Turbo S.)
Second, this vehicle might spoil you for any other electric car — or any other car of any sort. It’s just about perfect. The Porsche lineage shines through; it acts and feels the way a Porsche should.
The Turbo offers an almost impossible blend of performance and luxury in a four-door vehicle that will never need a drop of gasoline. It is as smooth as a luxury car should be, as quiet as an electric car should be, and as fun to drive as it should be, being a Porsche, after all.
Third, despite the name, it’s not really a turbo — at least, not the kind of turbo that calls for forcing air into a combustion chamber, since that is something the Taycan does not have. So while “turbo” is written on the back of the car, there isn’t a turbocharger under the hood.
Purists might object, but you’ll get the idea soon enough. For four decades, the word “turbo” has meant high performance in the Porsche world, and yes, the Taycan Turbo has plenty of that.
Taycan, by the way, is said to be a Turkish word that means “lively young horse.” And it’s pronounced Tie-Con. The Turbo and the Turbo S are the performance Taycans, but they share some features found on all models in the Taycan lineup.
The acceleration numbers, as amazing as they are, do not tell the full story. A Tesla can usually beat any other car off the line — once or twice. The Taycan Turbo can do it over and over, a dozen times or more, with no noticeable drop in performance. High performance is not a side benefit with the Porsche; it is one of the core purposes of the car.
Even with the electric drive and the weight of batteries, the Turbo feels like a Porsche. It hugs the road and can handle a twisty route with ease. It would be next to impossible to get into trouble with this car without being incredibly stupid — and people who can afford a vehicle like this do not tend to be dumb.
They would also expect luxury, and yes, the Porsche delivers there as well.
There are heated and vented 14-way electric seats, leather of course, that can be adjusted to fit just about any shape or size. There are three (three!) display panels, with the highly customizable one directly in front of the driver offering all the route and vehicle information that you will want or need. The other two, in the centre of the dash, allow control of creature comforts such as the climate and sound systems. Extensive, intelligent voice commands make it even easier; just say you are hot, for example, and the cabin temperature will drop.
Once you have everything set the way you like, store your preferences in the car’s memory. When you get into another Porsche, just log in and the second car will adjust itself to suit you. This isn’t your father’s Porsche.
The tinted panoramic roof, stretching all the way to the back of the rear seats, brings the outside in and reduces any risk of claustrophobia. Even the ambient lighting inside is a cut above what is found in other high-end cars.
The Taycan offers all the goodies that one would expect in a car in this price range. That means the car will help keep you in your lane, warning and nudging you back to where you should be, and recognizes road signs. When the time comes, it helps you park.
Adaptive cruise control means the Taycan will slow itself if needed, and will resume speed when the road ahead is clear. Porsche’s InnoDrive system is even better: Enter your destination into the navigation system, and the car will calculate the time and distance, as other GPS systems do, but will plan for the route in ways that seem like science fiction.
Going from Victoria to Duncan? Tell the Taycan that is your plan, and the car will think things through. It will ready the battery for the uphill climb, and it will note that the descent will allow the battery to pick up a bit of charge through regenerative braking.
Exterior lighting, featuring four-point LED headlights, puts to shame the lights on most other cars. The car will automatically dim the high beams when another vehicle is approaching, or when you approach another from the rear. The headlights use an LED matrix system that dims only the bulbs that might bother the other driver. In other words, you will light up the countryside without blinding the other driver. And the Taycan does all the thinking for you.
Taycans have seating for four with bucket seats front and back, or an option for five with a rear bench seat. There are two luggage compartments, also front and back.
Taycans have all-wheel drive with a motor on each axle. The battery pack, which weighs 1,389 pounds, doubles as a structural chassis component. In other words, it’s underneath the passenger compartment.
The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 volts; other electric cars have 400 volts. The higher voltage means consistent high performance, reduces the charging time and decreases the weight of cabling.
The vehicle has five modes, so drivers can pick the one for the occasion. Sport Plus will put emphasis on performance, including launch control, while range mode is for greater efficiency. (As a rough guide, the more you test the car’s acceleration, the sooner the battery will need to visit a charging station.)
The car’s range might be the only downside, as it is with other electric cars. You can go about 300 kilometres on a charge, with some reporting up to 400. But don’t count on that every time. A route with hills takes more energy than a run through California’s flat Central Valley.
While the Turbo has the creature comforts that would encourage a marathon drive or two, the range and the time it takes to recharge the batteries will work against that idea.
The Taycan is compatible with the DC fast chargers, allowing a recharge in as little as 25 minutes. It can take as little as five minutes to get a recharge for another 100 kilometres. If you want to charge it at home, 12 hours will take it to full charge.
The much older, low-tech Porsche in my garage has been to California and back, but I would not want to take the Taycan on the same trip without planning a strategy for getting to the destination.
In the end, how much does this matter? How many Taycan buyers are planning to drive all day anyway? When we are able to travel again, it will be easier to fly to California, Calgary, or wherever, and then rent a car when we get there.
Beyond that, how many Taycans will be in single-car garages? Most people buying vehicles at this level will have another vehicle, or maybe two.
In the final analysis, the Taycan is about as perfect as a car can be in 2021. On the leading edge, it could be a taste of what is to come. Some of the features on this car will be on other vehicles before the end of this decade, and the buyers of those cars will be delighted.
In that case, the future of driving looks bright indeed.
THE SPEC SHEET
Type: All electric luxury performance car
Engine (electric): Permanent magnet synchronous motor on the front and rear axle
Battery: 93.4 kWh
Total engine (hp): 616
Range: 320-365 km
Transmission: Single-speed on the front axle, two-speed on the rear axle
Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,963; width, 1,966; height, 1,379; wheelbase, 2,900
Drag coefficient: 0.22 Cd
Curb weight (kg): 2,140 kg
Price (base/as tested): $173,900 / $196,180
Options: Premium package performance package, Porsche InnoDrive, and more
Tires: 245/45 R20 front, 285/40 R20 rear