The Porsche Taycan, an EV to Give the Never EVers 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 the never EVers, that may seem a bold statement. Not so long ago, the headlines raced to report the numerous issues plaguing Tesla’s launch of the affordable Model Y, hedge-fund managers were actively betting against Musk’s improbable crusade, and a consumer revolt against industry 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 EVs 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 EVs 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 Audi e-tron, as practical competitors to the Tesla, I wouldn’t buy either. They look great, inside and out, they each offer a practical range, and they are blisteringly quick, but they are not driver’s cars. Most Sundays 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 of Southern California. This is not EV territory, and you will regularly find the Tesla’s that silently whistled past you at the mountain base, struggling to maintain at the top. So, as I read the results of Car and Driver's annual Lightning Lap, I was amazed to learn that Porsche had sent their latest EV, the Taycan Turbo S, which not only survived but thrived at the event. 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. Keep in mind that the last time C&D ran an EV, a Tesla S, in 2016, it overheated on the first lap. 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 EVs, not to mention the price - (ahem) nearly $200,000. Expectations are high, but this is still a jaw-dropping achievement. It is still an EV attempting to race around a track, and by the time the Taycan had completed its second lap, excessive battery heat had compromised power output. Nonetheless, it completed six laps, over two sessions, as with all the cars on test, refueling in the interim, and returning with 40% in the ‘tank.’ Notably Car and Driver report "similar" consumption from the Shelby GT500 (only 2-mpg on track!).
No doubt, progressive 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. To resign the combustion engine to the history books, EVs have to be better, not just work. Porsche has eclipsed Tesla, and many of its ICE-driven rivals. The Taycan may be the first true driver’s car without an engine, perhaps marking the end of the beginning for EVs.
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