Porsche Taycan saloon - Electric motor, drive & performance
Far from just a straight-line hero, the Porsche Taycan handles incredibly well too
Rather than a conversion of a car that originally had a combustion engine, the Taycan has been built from the ground up to be a high-performance electric model, and it shows. You sit low to the ground, it has a wide stance and the Taycan feels instantly agile thanks to its low centre of gravity. In fact, it doesn't feel too dissimilar to sitting in a Porsche 911 and the controls are precise and well-weighted. Four-wheel steering helps mask the Taycan's considerable weight, helping it to turn into corners and change direction very quickly.
This is especially the case when active anti-roll bars (called Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and costing around £2,300) are fitted, giving the Taycan handling that’s more communicative and playful than you'd imagine from a two-tonne-plus electric car.
The standard air suspension for the 4S version and above also ensures the Taycan remains composed over rough roads, showing control that helps the Porsche work impressively well on UK roads. Steering wheel paddles to alter the level of brake regeneration would be welcome, but the Taycan is otherwise hard to fault.
The entry-level rear-wheel drive model might not have the outrageous performance of the Turbo versions but on the road it feels more than fast enough, and the handling is predictable and secure. Because there's no electric motor up front, the nose of the car feels relatively light and therefore more agile when you turn into corners. There's conventional suspension in place of the air suspension found in more expensive versions; while it's slightly less comfortable at times, it’s still very refined and there's little to separate the two in corners. The rear-wheel drive Taycan has almost no body lean and incredible amounts of grip, with the quick power delivery making it a very capable performance car on the road.
Porsche Taycan electric motors
All but the entry-level Porsche Taycan models use two electric motors (one on each axle) to give all-wheel drive. The Taycan also has a clever two-speed transmission where most EVs only have a single forward speed. This means there's a shorter first gear designed to provide fierce acceleration and a longer cruising gear to improve efficiency at higher speeds.
Put your foot down at any speed and acceleration is gut-wrenching. The Turbo and Turbo S both develop 617bhp during normal driving, but with launch control engaged power increases to 671bhp in the Turbo and 750bhp in the Turbo S. This results in 0-62mph times of 3.2 and 2.8 seconds respectively, and Porsche is particularly proud of the fact that the car managed 26 consecutive runs in testing, showing performance doesn't quickly fall away or become electronically limited. This impressive endurance and cooling also allowed a Taycan Turbo S prototype to set a new Nurburgring lap record of 7:42 for electric four-door saloons.
There’s nothing embarrassing about the performance of the 4S model, which produces 523bhp with the standard 79.2kWh battery. Upgrade to the 93.4kWh battery used in the Turbo and Turbo S, however, and the power gets bumped up to 563bhp. With the latter, you’ll zip from 0-62mph in four seconds flat, but you’ll need to consider whether upgrading to the bigger battery is worth around £4,000 extra.
There's an impressive consistency to the brake pedal for an EV, and drivers can choose between Range, Normal, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. The Range mode calms things down to ensure you can travel as efficiently as possible but the Taycan still feels fast. It can switch to front-wheel drive in this mode while cruising too to save more energy. Sport and Sport+ feel unnervingly fast at times, and the Taycan has an amazing ability to change direction for a 2.5-tonne car.
This is especially the case in the GTS model, which feels the most agile in the range. Although it has a sportier suspension setup, leave it in Normal mode and the car is still comfortable enough for long road trips. It feels like one of Porsche’s petrol-powered sports cars in corners and with 590bhp on overboost, the GTS is still fearsomely quick in a straight line, hitting 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.
The entry-level version of the Taycan was released earlier in 2021 and, unlike the rest of the range, it’s only rear-wheel drive. Depending on which battery pack is fitted, it has up to 469bhp with overboost and launch control selected, dropping to 375bhp in the version with the larger battery the rest of the time.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 5.4 seconds and in Normal mode the basic Taycan can't replicate the warp-speed feel of the Turbo S. Select Sport Plus, however, and the Taycan selects its shorter gear for better acceleration and the car surges forwards when you press the accelerator. Getting up to speed on a motorway is quicker than in a Porsche 718 Boxster. Despite the lack of all-wheel drive, the base Taycan still generates huge amounts of traction and feels very secure even on wet roads.
The only negative is the regenerative braking, which isn't strong enough to slow the car down very quickly and there's no option to adjust it using steering-wheel paddles. The transition between energy recovery and using the brake discs can also be slightly jerky when slowing down.