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Porsche Taycan Turbo S Review: Shattering Expectations

Updated: Jul 30, 2020


Taycan Turbo S in Volcano Grey, photo taken by @technikautohouse

Test Vehicle: Porsche Taycan Turbo S

MSRP as tested: $243,490 CAD

Specs: Dual electric motors (751 hp, 774 lb.-ft. torque), paired with a 2-speed automatic transmission. 96KWH battery @ 309 km range (EPA Estimate)

0-100km/h as tested: 2.8 seconds


As the first ever electric vehicle to bear the legendary Porsche badge (not to mention the flagship Turbo S distinction too), the Taycan Turbo S has some pretty big shoes to fill. Not only does it represents the culmination of Porsche’s investment into their electrified future, but it also has to compete head-on with Tesla's dominant Model S, appeal to tech nerds, AND prove to Porsche's famously picky clientele that electric vehicles can be just as engaging to drive as their legendary combustion engine sports cars. But it seems like Porsche's efforts have paid off because the Taycan impresses in nearly all fronts, and is has established itself as one of the most thrilling-to-drive cars out there, electric or not.



Driving Impressions

Having driven the Tesla Model S, Model 3 Performance, and the Porsche Panamera, I imagined the Taycan would drive kind of like a mix between the three, with Tesla's instant torque combined with Porsche's famous handling and sharp steering. But I was wrong; this is another beast all together. From the moment you step into the Taycan’s low-slung cabin, you know you’re in something much more special, sporty, and driver-focused than any of the aforementioned sedans. Despite having 4 doors and a usable trunk, the view out front, cabin layout, and seating position all are reminiscent of the Porsche 911, and the similarities only start from there.


Somehow, Porsche has managed to stuff the agility and capabilities of a sports car into a 4-door sedan that weighs nearly 5000 pounds. Thanks to the battery’s low centre of gravity, the car remains flat and feels supremely capable and confident in corners. Combine this with Porsche’s legendary and precise steering, and the Taycan feels absolutely alive and extremely engaging to drive, significantly more so than even the mighty Panamera Turbo S. In fact, the Taycan is more akin to the 911 than the Panamera when it comes to driving dynamics, which is just about the highest praise we can think to give it.

The Taycan's interior is designed to be extremely ergonomic and driver-focused

The benefits of an electric drivetrain comes to light when you floor the accelerator pedal. The Taycan Turbo S takes off with such ferocity that even the driver is left momentarily disoriented, reaching 100km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds. Unlike a Tesla however, the fun doesn’t stop there; the Taycan employs a unique 2-speed automatic transmission mounted on the rear axle, allowing the car to shift into a higher gear and giving it another burst of acceleration once you pass 100km/h. Indeed, the acceleration experience itself feels very similar to a Model S Performance from 0-100km/h, but at higher speeds, the Taycan definitely has an edge over its rivals.


Despite its massive amount of power, everything in the Taycan feels refined and fine-tuned. For instance, the accelerator pedal’s power curve feels perfectly natural, unlike some electric cars that shove you forwards the moment you breath on the pedal. Even the brakes feel extremely ordinary and confidence inspiring, despite utilizing regenerative braking in favour of the actual brake pads until you’re halfway into the pedal. The Taycan is also the first EV I’ve driven that doesn’t give you the option to engage regenerative braking once you let off the accelerator pedal. Most consumers probably won’t miss this feature, but current electric vehicle owners may find themselves craving “one-pedal driving”.



Interior

The Taycan’s cabin is a classy blend of traditional and modern design cues, laid out in a sporty cockpit-like design with everything in reach of the driver. In typical Porsche lineup, build quality is rock solid, and all materials feel befitting of a $100,000 luxury car. Unlike typical Porsches however, the Taycan does have a bit more flair and feels quite futuristic, incorporating 3 large displays up front (with an optional 4th display for the passenger) replacing virtually all physical buttons. As such, nearly everything is controlled via the 2 centre touchscreens, from the climate control settings to the adjustable chassis controls.

Interior of the Taycan Turbo S, courtesy of @technikautohouse

The upper touchscreen houses the infotainment system and vehicle settings, whereas the lower touchscreen is dedicated to core functions such as climate settings, as well as doubling as a secondary input method for the upper screen during certain tasks. To simulate button presses, the lower touchscreen provides haptic feedback. Admittedly, this over reliance on touchscreens does complicate simple tasks when behind the wheel, and while it may look sleek and futuristic, I do wish Porsche stuck with some of the touch-sensitive buttons found in the Panamera and Cayenne. The floating fully digital instrument cluster however, is a masterpiece. Fully customizable and simple to read, the instrument cluster feels like a perfect blend of futuristic and traditional Porsche design.


Ride quality is superb. The suspension in the Taycan works like magic, adjusting to absorb imperfections in the road, but also stiffening to attack corners when needed. When combined with the acoustically insulated cabin and the lack of engine noise, it gives the impression of gliding above the road, while simultaneously giving the driver reassuring feedback of what the tires are doing. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, and one that only Porsche has managed to perfect in their vehicles. Although nothing can ever replace the exhaust note of a flat-six directly behind you, I actually found the spaceship-sounding substitute to be quite enjoyable. Porsche dubs this ‘Electric Sport Sound’, and I found myself toggling it on during spirited driving. And yes, the ‘Electric Sport Sound’ is audible from the outside, causing passerby's to do a double take to try and identify the source of the spaceship noises they hear.




Exterior

When I saw the Taycan in-person for the first time during its unveiling, I was immediately impressed by how similar it looked to the Mission E concept. Compared to the Panamera, Taycan is significantly sleeker and sportier with a distinctly coupe-shaped roofline, looking almost like a larger futuristic 911. Especially when specced with the right paint and the Mission E Design Wheels, Taycan looks quite futuristic and unique from anything else on the market, while still managing to look distinctly Porsche.



Ownership and Service Experience

Expect nothing but the best when you walk into a Porsche dealership, whether you’re there to purchase, for service, or simply just to browse. Nearly all Porsche staff are enthusiasts who are passionate about the brand, treating you more like a friend than a customer. Although the Taycan hasn’t been out long enough to prove its reliability or for us to consult owners about their long-term experiences, Porsche’s excellent customer service and a 4 year/80,000km warranty should leave buyers reassured. As an added bonus, the Taycan requires very minimal maintenance, with its first recommended service visit taking place 2 years after purchase (no more overpriced oil changes!). As well, complimentary fast charging is also offered at all Porsche dealers across North America.


The Taycan’s range on the other hand, is a more controversial topic. EPA estimates peg the Taycan Turbo S at paltry 309 km of estimated range, and the less powerful Taycan 4S at 327 km (though expect this to drop 15-30% in cold weather). During testing however, the Taycan proved to be more efficient than on paper, repeatedly travelling over 350 km without leaving me stranded. In fact, during a stint of conservative driving, the Taycan’s estimated range sat at a healthy 426 km (265 miles) when fully charged, beating EPA ratings by nearly 38%, something I was never able to come close to achieving in any Tesla. Speaking with a few Taycan owners reveals that this is not an anomaly; it seems that the EPA did in fact underestimate the Taycan’s potential range. Having said this, there is no doubt that the Model S still reigns supreme when it comes to long-distance journeys, especially with the lack of fast-charging stations for the Taycan across North America (for the time being).


Tesla also has the upper hand when it comes to smartphone app integration, something that is becoming increasingly more useful with electric vehicles. Whereas the Tesla mobile app offers a simple and easy-to-use UI, alongside a plethora of features such as allowing you to schedule service appointments and software updates right from your phone, Taycan’s Porsche Connect app is woefully slow, has quite a few bugs, and is limited in functionality in comparison. Hopefully Porsche will continue to iron out the kinks and improve the app as more of their lineup adopts electrification.



Final Thoughts:

It turns out that money can buy perfection after all (well, almost), because the Taycan does nearly everything right. It has all the charm a proper Porsche sports car should have, while adding a spacious trunk (scratch that; TWO trunks), usable rear seats, a luxury smooth experience, a beautifully designed yet high-tech cabin, and stunning looks. For a while, we thought the Panamera would be the closest thing we'd ever get to a 4-door 911, but now the Taycan takes the crown, getting scarily close to the 911 in driving dynamics, and even surpassing it in raw acceleration. While this statement might be blasphemy to traditionalist, I truly believe the Taycan has what it takes to convert die-hard Porsche fans into believers in an electrified future.



Recommended Build: Taycan 4S ($119,400 - $139,940 CAD)

What? We're recommending a Taycan 4S after driving the Turbo S? That's right; we can't all be multi-millionaires, and for most folks I suspect the Taycan 4S will provide more than enough performance than they could ever (legally) use on the streets. The 4S includes 562 horsepower and more torque than you'd ever need (enough for 0-100km/h in 4 seconds flat), all-wheel-drive, and nearly identical looks to the Turbo and Turbo S, inside and out.


Like the rest of the lineup, the Taycan can be customized to the hearts content with an endless array of options, provided you’re willing to pay the big bucks. A fully loaded Turbo S variant with all of the option boxes ticked comes in at a staggering $250,000 CAD. Of course, this is only if you want absolutely everything, including the many superfluous options. For us, must-have options include the Porsche Electric Sport Sound ($580), Sport Chrono Package ($1510), and the Fixed Panoramic Roof ($1690). Porsche also forces early adopters of the 4S to option the Performance Battery Plus ($7500), though we find this well worth the price anyway for its increased range, better performance, and faster charging capabilities.


For audiophiles who don’t mind splurging a bit more, the excellent ‘Burmester® High-End Surround Sound System’ ($7980) and the Thermally & Noise Insulated Glass ($1280) is something to seriously consider, providing one of the best in-vehicle sound system experiences out there especially when paired with the Taycan’s already whisper-quiet ride.


To customize and build your own Taycan, visit Porsche’s online Taycan configurator at: https://www.porsche.com/canada/en/modelstart/



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