Porsche Taycan 2021: First drive review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 14 April 2021

Tim Nicholson takes the stunning all-electric Porsche Taycan for a first drive.

Porsche’s first production electric vehicle has been a long time coming. The German brand first teased punters with the achingly beautiful Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. That vehicle previewed the production model – dubbed Taycan – that was revealed in late 2019. And now, nearly six years after it all started, the Taycan has finally hit Australian shores. It’s in demand too, with plenty of cashed-up Aussies putting orders in well before its launch. 

Wisely, Porsche largely retained the design of the concept. There aren’t too many vehicles with this sort of road presence. The Taycan attracts attention everywhere, with dozens of people craning their heads for a look during our launch drive. But there’s much more to this head-turner than its striking looks. The brand promises that the EV drives like any other Porsche sportscar. But can it really match the dynamism and performance of a 911?


What do you get for the price?

The Taycan starts at $190,400 before on-road costs for the 4S. Prices increase sharply to $268,500 for the mid-range Turbo, while the flagship Turbo S starts at $338,500. This pricing puts the Porsche in the league of its Panamera stablemate, the Mercedes-AMG GT four door and more. The original high-performance EV sedan, the Tesla Model S, starts from around $134,000. Later this year, fellow Volkswagen Group brand Audi will launch the gorgeous e-tron GT four-door coupe, which shares its bones with the Taycan. 

Just some of the standard equipment offered includes 14-way seats with memory package, heated and ventilated front seats, heated multifunction sport steering wheel, Bose surround-sound system, digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay. Higher grades naturally gain a lot more standard gear and there are a bunch of options packages for lighting, interior trim and more. Some features – like a head-up display –should be standard.


How safe is it?

The Taycan is yet to be crash tested by ANCAP. It has, however, received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. From the 4S up, standard safety gear includes a suite of airbags with side airbags in the rear, adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist, lane-keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, and an ‘active bonnet’ to minimise injury to pedestrians in a collision.

What’s it like inside?

The interior has a similar vibe to other current-model Porsches, notably the Panamera four-door coupe. Most vehicle functions are housed in one of three touchscreens – two in the centre stack and the 16.8-inch curved instrument display which has touch functions for the chassis and drive models. An optional touchscreen for the front passenger integrates into the main 10.9-inch central screen. 

The entire multimedia setup is impressive and will appeal to tech heads, but sometimes it feels like overkill. For example, to adjust the air vents you have to go into a menu on the central screen and touch the display to change the direction of airflow. It’s a bit unnecessary. 

In all variants the well-bolstered seats and trim feel high quality, and there is a leather-free trim option. Rear-seat space is tight and can’t match the leg room of the Panamera – it’s best suited to children or short trips for adults. Rear visibility is hampered by the tiny rear windscreen, so you’ll need to rely on the parking cameras and aids. 

Porsche Taycan 2021
Porsche Taycan 2021


What’s under the bonnet?

An 84-litre cargo space sits under the bonnet of the Taycan – one of two that also includes the 366-litre rear boot. But what powers the Taycan is a pair of electric motors on each axle, making it all-wheel drive. The 4S pumps out 320kW/640Nm and is paired with a 79.2kWh battery. It can cover 0-100kmh in four seconds. You can tick the Performance Battery Plus option box which ups power and torque to 360kW/650Nm for a cool $11,590.

The Turbo ups outputs to 460kW/850Nm and battery capacity to 93.4kWh, making for a brisk 0-100kmh dash time of 3.2 seconds. The Turbo S claims 560kW/1050Nm, the same battery capacity as the Turbo and a blistering 2.8-second 0-100kmh sprint. (Don’t let the ‘Turbo’ fool you. Being an EV, there is no turbocharger fitted. Porsche just decided to retain it as a variant name to match the rest of its model range.)

The chassis is made up of aluminium double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension, Porsche 4D Chassis Control which uses electromechanical anti-roll bars to prevent body roll, and Porsche Active Suspension Management with Range, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes. 

Porsche Taycan 2021
Porsche Taycan 2021

 

Is it efficient?

The driving range of the 4S is 365 kilometres (increasing to 414 kilometres with the Performance Battery Plus) and it consumes 262Wh/km of energy. The Turbo’s range is 420 kilometres and energy consumption is 280Wh/km, while the Turbo S can drive for 405 kilometres before requiring a charge, and it consumes 285Wh/km of energy. These figures use the WLTP (world harmonised light-duty vehicles test procedure) standard. 

Charging the Taycan from zero to 100 per cent capacity using an 11kW home-charging box takes eight hours for the 4S and nine hours for the Turbo and Turbo S. Plugged into a 50kW fast public charger it’ll take 93 minutes to get from  five to 80 per cent capacity, while a 270kW ultra-rapid charger will take just 22.5 minutes from five to 80 per cent.

The Taycan comes with a free home-charging box and a free three-year subscription to the Chargefox ultra-rapid public charging network.  

Porsche Taycan 2021
Porsche Taycan 2021

 

How does it drive?

It’s clear from our brief stint driving all three variants that the Taycan is a true Porsche. The electric powertrain changes things up, but that Porsche essence remains.

The acceleration of the flagship Turbo S is phenomenal. The rocket-like performance forces you back into the driver’s seat – it’s almost shocking at first. And reminiscent of a Tesla’s acceleration in Ludicrous mode. The 4S isn’t as quick in a straight line as the Turbo S, but the performance is still breathtaking. 

Each of the Taycan variants exhibits impressive cornering ability, carving through twisty roads with the ease of a much smaller car. The all-wheel-drive setup aids traction. 

The biggest surprise is the ride quality. While the suspension is tuned on the firmer side for better handling, it somehow maintains a comfortable ride. The adaptive air suspension helps here. 

If you find the silence of an EV a little eerie, you can select a mode that pumps a synthetic ‘EV’ sound into the cabin. It’s gimmicky but also pretty cool.

Should I buy one?

More time is required with the Taycan to see what it’s like to live with day to day, but after a quick first drive it’s clear that Porsche has nailed the brief. There is no question it’s a true Porsche sportscar – that just happens to be an EV. 

The performance of this car is extraordinary and it’s a technological powerhouse. The Taycan is so impressive in range-opening 4S guise, we struggle to understand the need to pay $80,000 more for the Turbo – or $150k more for the Turbo S. The 4S with the Performance Battery Plus is the pick.