New Porsche Taycan prototype review

Our first drive of the Porsche Taycan reveals sports car DNAVerdictIf the Taycan is the future, then it’s a sensational reason to aim for old age. We can’t recall such a stomach-churning effect from a production car, and, acceleration aside, it’s huge fun to drive. Even at this prototype stage, it’s clear that Porsche is going to give Tesla a massive headache.

We’re sliding around Porsche’s Weissach test track as if it’s better to look out of the passenger window than the windscreen. The cornering forces are so strong that we’re wondering whether we’re about to be reacquainted with our breakfast. But we’re not in a twin-turbocharged 911; instead, this is Auto Express’s introduction to the all-electric Porsche Taycan.

Engineer Christian Wolfsried gives us a rude awakening by demonstrating the Taycan’s launch control. He starts with both feet on the pedals, but as he lifts his left foot he says, “Careful!”. Barely three seconds later, the speedo hits 100kph (62mph).

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A few years ago, the idea of a pure-electric Porsche, with no engine noise, would have been ludicrous. But plenty of people have already bought in to the idea. The maker says more than 20,000 people have put down a deposit of around 1,000 Euros to get on the Taycan waiting list.

Even so, the company is still reluctant to divulge too many details on the car ahead of the model’s debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Engineers don’t want to say that it’s a Lego brick shorter than a Panamera. They don’t mention that, despite the electric architecture, the roof is a little bit lower, too. We ask for a definite power figure and are told: “More than 600bhp.” 

What Porsche is willing to say is that the Taycan will have a range of more than 500km (310 miles) under the old NEDC test. That’s between 420km and 450km (261 and 280 miles) with the tougher WLTP regime.

Oh, and then there’s the acceleration – and the fact that it’s repeatable. Porsche has run the Taycan up and down an airfield 26 times in succession, doing full-bore 0-200kph (0-124mph) runs. It managed all of them in under 10 seconds, and the difference between the fastest and slowest sprint was just 0.8 seconds.

The Taycan is the first production car to use an 800V electrical system – this will speed up charging times and reduce the space needed for some components. Plug into a fast-charging station, and it will add around 60 miles of range in less than five minutes.

Next it’s our turn to drive – not on the track, but on the public road. Taycan series manager Stefan Weckbach joins us in the passenger seat. And he’s quick to point out a key fact: “With the batteries,” he says, “this car has the lowest centre
of gravity of any Porsche on sale.”

It certainly feels more agile than a car weighing more than two tonnes should, as we start to thread the Taycan along a twisty road. It has lively performance, of course, but the way it responds to changes of direction reminds you that while this is an electric car, it’s also a Porsche.

Three-chamber air suspension and modest 20-inch wheels keep all but the very worst road vibrations out of the cabin. And then Weckbach flicks a switch to select Sport+ mode. Suddenly the Taycan squats down by 20mm and you become aware of a metallic sound – like a sci-fi spaceship but less artificial. It’s louder, more present now, and there’s more if you want it.

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In one elongated left-hander, the Porsche accelerates hard, and the numbers on the dash read-out become a blur as the chassis does its job retaining contact with the road. We whisper “good heavens”. Weckbach is quick to respond: “Is that supposed to be some form of praise?” It is.

Key specs

  • Model: Porsche Taycan
  • Engine: Twin electric motors
  • Power: 600bhp-plus (est)
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/ speed: Less than 3.5 seconds (est)/ 155mph (est)
  • Range : 280 miles (est)
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • On sale: Autumn

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