Sunday drive with Hormazd Sorabjee: Taycan by surprise
It’s amazing the lengths people (or companies) will go to prove a point. In this case the length was 6,500km across nine countries. And the point to prove? That the Porsche Taycan, the first all-electric car from the German sports carmaker, can traverse a continent as easily as a conventional car by simply plugging into Ionity fast charging stations sprouting up on European highways.
Making long distance travel all across Europe a reality is the sole objective of Ionity, a network of high power charging points that can refill the Taycan’s massive 93.4kWh battery in minutes and not hours. The fact is that Ionity charging stations are still far and few between, which makes the Taycan’s range even more crucial. In fact, in the EV world, range is a stronger currency than speed, performance and power. So the crucial question is not just how fast, but, how far can the Taycan go? To answer that and more I joined Porsche’s electric bandwagon on the last 670km Berlin to Stuttgart leg of a mega drive that had started in Oslo.
The Porsche factor
The Taycan may be Porsche’s first EV but above everything, it’s first a Porsche and that means it’s been designed and engineered with performance as the top most priority. But does it look like a Porsche should? This four door, four seat sedan has got all the elements of the legendary brand. The rear roofline and muscular haunches remind you of the iconic 911, the lines are smooth, sleek and uncluttered and with no engine up front, the bonnet is really low. The overall shape is typically understated and the hunkered down stance reeks of the Taycan’s purpose, which is to be the fastest point A to B electric powered car you can buy.
So, does the Taycan drive like a Porsche should? The answer comes up in just 2.8 seconds or the time it takes for the Taycan to accelerate from 0-100 kph. However, these figures, impressive as they are, don’t tell the full story because for one, they are not the EV performance benchmark (the Tesla Model S P100D does 0-100 in 2.6s!) But for owners what will matter is that, the Taycan feels much faster than the numbers suggest. Much faster.
Indulge in a ‘launch-control’ start and you’ll be shocked (pun intended) by the ferocity of forward thrust, which slams your head against the seat. The initial acceleration is so strong, it feels like I’ve been strapped onto Chandrayaan 2 at lift off. My brain struggles to keep pace with the Swabian scenery flashing by and the burger I’ve just had for lunch is pressed down into my intestines. Delivering this monumental performance is an 800V electrical architecture that powers a pair of electric motors, which zap out a combined 760hp in the Turbo S variant I’m driving. The lower Turbo version delivers ‘only’ 680hp.
More power to you
What’s even more astonishing is how silently and seamlessly this humongous chunk of power is served up. Even at 265kph, the Taycan’s electronically capped top speed which can be achieved in a whiff, the cabin is surreally quiet. Except for a bit of wind noise and a muted drone from the tyres scything across German autobahns, it feels like a non-event.
The lack of drama threatens to rob the Taycan of character, but thankfully it’s still a Porsche at heart. The driving position is spot on and you instantly feel at one with the car. The all-digital instrument cluster and three touchscreens may seem overwhelming at first but in true Porsche style they are so logically organised and intuitive to use that toggling through the myriad functions becomes second nature.
What sets the Taycan apart from other high-performance EVs is its impeccable road behaviour, which belies its massive 2.3 ton weight. The steering has a fluency that makes every corner a joy. You can dial in some noise too. Flick to Sport Plus mode and whir of the electric motors is amplified and this is the first EV that actually sounds decent.
What could be better though is the range. Drive the Taycan the way it begs you to and the battery discharges at an alarming rate and this is possibly the Taycan’s biggest weakness. It’s also a reminder that EVs still aren’t as unshackled as their internal engine counterparts. But that day will soon come.
Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India
Sunday Drive appears every fortnight
From HT Brunch, October 20, 2019
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