The Porsche Taycan, an EV to Give the Never EVer's Pause.
Next year will mark a decade since Tesla launched the Model S, the first EV with broad market appeal. I would argue that history will come to define this moment as the beginning-of-the-end of the combustion engine. To some, especially those never EVers (I’m including myself), that may seem a bold statement. After all, not so long ago, headlines raced to report the numerous issues plaguing the launch of Tesla’s affordable Model Y, hedge-funds were actively betting against Musk’s improbable crusade, and a consumer revolt against efforts to develop a US market for small cars, popular in Europe, was credited to the glut in oil. Back then, many of us felt that the future for EV’s could still go either way. But bold it isn’t, and we’re only going one way - electric. Not because Tesla continues to confound its critics (despite ongoing issues), and not because the growing demand for EV’s appears wholly unaffected by the glut in oil, but because of cars like the Porsche Taycan.
While I begrudgingly admire the Jaguar I-Pace, and the Audie e-tron, as practical competitors to the Tesla, I wouldn’t buy either of them. They look great, inside and out, they each have practical range, and they are blisteringly quick from 0-60, but they are not driver’s cars. Most Sunday’s will see me drive, or ride, up the first 26 miles, and over 100 corners, of the Angeles Crest Highway to Newcomb’s Ranch, 5,340 feet up in the mountains. This is not EV territory, and you’ll regularly find the Tesla’s that silently whistled past you at the bottom of the mountain struggling to maintain at the top. So, as I read the results of Car and Driver Magazine’s annual Lightning Lap, I was amazed to see that Porsche had sent a Taycan Turbo S, which not only survived but thrived. For the uninitiated, C&D’s Lightning Lap is a side by side test for the year’s leading hot cars. Conducted on Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course: four demanding miles of varied elevation, encompassing 24 turns. Keeping in mind that the last time C&D ran a Tesla S in 2016, it overheated on lap one, at the first mile marker. It is all the more remarkable to read that the 5,200-pound (2.4-tonne) Taycan managed a better lap time than the Supra 3.0, the Jaguar F-Type R, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, and even pipped the BMW M8 Competition.
There are plenty of well-reviewed reasons behind this exceptional performance. Much like its conventional cousins the Taycan benefits from Porsche’s four-wheel steer, carbon-ceramic brakes, race-spec suspension, and immense power (over 600 bhp). Then there’s the 800-volt system and the two-speed gearbox, both firsts for EV’s, not to mention the price ($200,000+), expectations are high, but this is still a jaw-dropping achievement. In an attempt to pick holes, you could argue it’s not race worthy. By the time C&D completed the second lap, power was compromised by excessive battery heat. Nonetheless, the Taycan completed 6 laps, over two sessions, as with all the cars on test, refueling in the interim, and returning with 40% in the ‘tank’. Car and Driver report similar consumption from the Shelby GT500 (only 2-mpg on track!). Still, not much of a hole. Doubtless, governments will claim a share in the glory of the EV revolution, but, as Musk proved, this was always going to be a consumer-driven affair. EV’s have to be better, not just work. Porsche have not only eclipsed Tesla, but they might have gone and built a true driver’s car, with no engine. Perhaps marking the end-of-the-beginning for EV’s?
2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Base Price: $186,350
Curb Weight: 5246 lb. (2358 kg.)
Power Output: 616 bhp (boost to 750 bhp)
0-60: 2.4 sec
Range: 192 miles