The Face Of The Not-So-Distant Future: 2021 Porsche Taycan ExperienceReviews
The future is electric, period. While we may lament the loss of soulful Ferrari V12 soundtracks, or the pops and bangs of a turbocharged Mitsubishi Evo – as Elon Musk recently told a roomful of the biggest oil people in the world: before the turn of the next century we will simply look at hydrocarbon-based energy like we look at coal power now. Simply too old, too dirty, and too inefficient to make monetary sense.
It’s the same reason you don’t care about the organic click-clacks of a mechanical typewriter versus the swipes and pinches of your smartphone screen. Yes, there will be long unanswered questions on the best way to produce electric cars, charging infrastructure woes and most importantly, recyclability – electric cars are here to stay and are only going to get more popular by the day.
But, when you remove the sound of a car – you essentially remove a crucial dimension of sensory enjoyment that makes driving such a gratifying experience. However, there are two other aspects that also make driving so exhilarating, and they are also universally understood: power and handling.
Power and handling prowess then become the primary aspects of reimagining exhilaration in the age of the electric car – something they are so adept at providing at virtually any moment.
Few others understand power and handling as much as Porsche...
Despite all the hype about its groundbreaking technology, drop-dead gorgeous looks, and trademark Porsche efficiency – the Porsche Taycan stands for far more than that.
It stands for the transference of feeling, emotions, and the romance of our internal combustion-powered past into the electric future. Yes, you could argue that Tesla did it first, but unlike Tesla and the bonkers amount of new EV vehicle startups – they offer no benchmark and therefore no lineage to the glory of the past. Not like Porsche.
Yes, Teslas may drive well – but arguably, with a steering wheel in your hands and a go-pedal under your right foot – that intuitive character you feel when driving a car, is often highlighted by a car’s flaws just as much as what it does well. That’s something that gives a car its soul – and it’s present in any great car of the last 100 years or so – be it a Pre-War blower Bentley, a classic MINI Cooper or a Lexus LFA.
Porsche soul, now electrified!
When the Taycan got its long-awaited name (until which it was only known as the Mission E) – its Turkic origin was selected for its meaning of an untamed, spirited young horse, in Japanese taikan means roughly “physical experience”— that, Porsche aimed to achieve through driving in its most electrifying form.
To put their work through the test, members of media were recently given a rare chance to unleash the Taycan on the tarmac of Sepang to experience the blistering pace of its new electric vehicle – and more importantly, if it drives just how a Porsche should. Our track time would be split between a drag race and blast around the circuit to see if it likes the bends.
The Porsche Taycan range in Malaysia is as follows:
- Taycan: from MYR 584,561
- Taycan 4S: from MYR 699,986
- Taycan Turbo: from MYR 963,297
- Taycan Turbo S: from MYR 1,151,779
The two-deck 93.4 kWh Performance Battery Plus (PBP), optional on the Taycan and Taycan 4S adds just under RM40,000 to the prices (as listed) over the standard-issue 79.2 kWh Performance Battery. The latter Turbo and Turbo S models feature the PBP as standard. The Taycan Cross Turismo versions are also available on an order basis
Here a shortlist of the Taycan range’s performance specifications
- Taycan: Power: 326PS/408PS with Overboost, Peak torque: 345Nm, 0-100km/h: 5.4 seconds, 230km/h top speed
- Taycan 4S: 435PS/530PS with Overboost, Peak torque: 640Nm, 0-100km/h: 4.0 seconds, 250km/h top speed
- Taycan Turbo: 625PS/680PS with Overboost, Peak torque: 850Nm, 0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds, 260km/h top speed
- Taycan Turbo S: 625PS/761PS with Overboost, Peak torque: 1,150Nm, 0-100km/h: 2.8 seconds, 260km/h top speed
On the dragstrip
On the wide back, straight of Sepang sat two Taycans – the first a Taycan 4S and the other the hot-blooded Taycan Turbo, menacingly dressed in black with contrasting bronze wheels. Just ahead, lay roughly 300 meters off the tarmac, punctuated by high-visibility cones. Having watched these two take off prior to my stint, one would not describe how they set off as accelerating, rather disappearing from a standstill into a different space and time.
I opt to get into 4S first, as it will likely offer a more gradual learning curve – but boy was I wrong, nothing prepares you for a Taycan. The acceleration is unlike any other conventionally powered vehicle, which builds power only as you start moving. Here, and even with the milder settings – it's as if you are free framed just before pressing the accelerator, and by the time your head gathers enough information to know what you’re doing – you’re already hitting 80-90km/h.
Your head and back are pinned into the seat, as an unrelenting wave of power pulls the car forward. Unlike conventional cars which have to cycle through gears, thereby punctuating the power, the dual-motors of the 4S (putting upwards of 400PS to the ground) requires nothing less than all your concentration to keep the car going where you want it to. The steering wheel and brakes are the only hints that you still have control over what is happening. In both cars, we were allowed to do multiple runs ranging from Sport, Sport Plus and finally, with Launch Control – there’s a tangible increase in aggression as you wind up through the modes.
Of course, once you have jumped into the Turbo variant - every single ounce of drama, fear, and amazement is heightened even further.
It catapults like a cruise missile in familiar Porsche 911 “Turbo” fashion, the back hunkers down, smothering the tyres into the road, the front tyres anchor even harder in the Turbo, and everything in your periphery quickly changes to warp speed. Where my neck strained in the 4S, in the Turbo, I was actually getting slightly lightheaded with the blood rushing to the back of my head.
With over 600PS and a whopping 850Nm of torque – I was hurtling past 120km/h within seconds of getting off the brakes. The Turbo builds a gap of nearly 2-3 car lengths over the 4S in the same distance, and then it’s over, almost as soon as it started. For lack of a better phrase, the acceleration is mind-boggling, and simply too fast for me.
Next, we take to the corners of Sepang…
Moving onwards from the drag test, we were handed the keys to a short stint on the North Section of the Sepang Circuit, which winds from the starting straight all the way down to Turn 6 before cutting back to the start-finish line.
If the drags proved the Taycan was fast, here was where the Taycan proved it was a Porsche.
Here again, I strapped into the Taycan 4S. The ergonomics are superb, much like its closest four-doored sibling the Panamera. However, in the Taycan you are closer to the ground, more like a Porsche 911. Visibility is great despite the relatively small glasshouse proportions – it offers ample awareness of the surroundings.
As we set off from the pitlane in a controlled fashion, I realise how tractable the accelerator pedal is, once of the brakes, it creeps forward like any other car, adding power simply gives it more pace, and soon we’re off heading towards Turn 1. The first lap introduces the corners, the brakes, and the deliciously weighted steering that is so quick and precise, allowing me to point this rather big car to almost every apex with ease.
The car's balance is immense, the suspension poised and confidence-inspiring, comfortable yet direct with every response – and given the weight distribution of the battery and the various componentry of the car’s 800 Volt powertrain – almost no bodyroll in the corners – even during the quick switchback between Turn 1 and 2 of Sepang.
As we build pace, over the next two laps, the 4S proves one thing – that every Porsche does and does better than almost any other car – it shrinks around you. Despite its size, it manages to shrink-wrap itself around your controls and driving intentions – making itself no more overwhelming than a family sedan, yet with all the blistering pace when called on for.
This for me is at the heart and soul of every Porsche which I have had the pleasure of driving. The Taycan is no different, especially in its 4S guise, providing such a tractable and sublime entry point into the world of the electrified Porsche.
Soul electrified…bring it on!