Every new Porsche is an exciting proposition. This is a company that built a reputation in delivering a unique brand of driving thrills since the 911, and it's something they carried into their modern diversified like up that includes mid-engined sports cars, a luxury saloon, and even a pair of SUVs.
Now they've got something different, a car that has the ability to beat even the great 911 into submission, but without a gas tank or a tailpipe. It's called the Taycan. And it's electric.
The model has already had its world premiere last year, but now it's the turn of Porsche Philippines with the Taycan, and so they handed us the keys to a fully charged example of the Taycan Turbo S for a preview drive.
This is only one of only a few Taycan units to have arrived in the country. Walking up to it for the first time, yes, we see a few design cues that are quite 911-ish as expected, but those are more subtle hints than outright trying to be a 911.
Beyond the raised fenders for the headlamps and wheel arches and the curves, this Taycan is its own thing. I like the quad LED taillamps, the wheels, the rear end with taillights that span the width of the vehicle, and the fact that Porsche was quite reserved when they designed it. The only things I didn't like are those slats/vents that link up with the headlights; it just seems a bit odd for me. And if I was to pick the body color, it won't be black; I'm a fan of contrasts, so I'd probably choose white to make those black details pop out more.
The Taycan is not a coupe-like the 911; this is a 4-door saloon car even though it's coupe-ish, as shown by the roofline that slopes downward. Taller individuals (but not me) may have to tilt their heads a bit to avoid bumping up against the sloping roof. Once inside, the backseat is a pleasant place to be; I do like the red leather, but more importantly, I like the contours of the rear seat. The Panamera is still the more luxurious one, but I wouldn't mind sitting in the back of the Taycan.
Really though, it's the front that matters more. This is a Porsche we're talking about, after all. In the driver's seat, it's easy to get overwhelmed. That's not to say it's difficult to get it going; quite the contrary, actually. The main thing is that it's all different but somewhat familiar. Instead of an instrument cluster, the Taycan Turbo S has a wide main screen that can be configured to display all the instruments in a rather classic Porsche style.
There's a screen where the audio unit would normally be, along with a much larger iPad-style screen where the climate control would be. Actually, that's where you also control the direction of the air vents. If you've seen an airliner's glass cockpit, you'd probably feel at home here. The only thing that almost looks out of place is the Sport Chrono timer on top of the dash; an analog gauge in the digital age.
Powering up the Taycan is achieved by pressing a button, and it's not so much an ignition button as it is an IO-style on switch you would see on electronic devices like a PC. There's no drama, no judder, no vibration from the vehicle because there are no moving parts that turn on yet, apart from maybe the A/C. The Taycan is just ready to go.
The vehicle is designed around the powertrain, and that begins with the battery system. It packs 396 lithium-ion cells, and those are arranged flat and fitted under the floor to occupy as little space as possible and minimizing the effect on the center of gravity of the vehicle. Yes, in the same way that the 911 drives uniquely because of the weight of the engine aft of the rear axle, this Taycan should drive differently because of the battery pack.
The Taycan Turbo S has dual electric motors; one drives the front via a single-speed automatic while the other drives the back via a two-speed automatic. That means this Taycan has all-wheel-drive but in a unique way. A few other vehicles I've been behind the wheel of with motor-driven all-wheel drive includes the Outlander PHEV, but this is going to be a totally different animal.
Honestly, I wanted to drive it out on a race track, out of town, or out of BGC at the very least, but there are complications that I'll note later on. But driving it around BGC's streets, I can tell that this is one smooth vehicle. It's whisper-quiet, and there's a nicely tuned note when it accelerates. The steering feel is actually nice, as expected.
Apart from what you feel from the road, there are no mechanical vibrations anywhere; there are no moving pistons, valves nor is there a crankshaft. You can just expect smooth acceleration if you're patient with the throttle, and easy overtaking all around. Oh, and as for those pesky speed bumps in BGC, a button raises the front of the Taycan to give you extra clearance so you don't scrape the battery pack; I can only imagine how much repairing or replacing it will cost.
There's something that may look unusual about something like the Taycan if you check the spec sheet: the weight. This sports car isn't a light vehicle by any means; at about 2300 kilos (more or less) this Taycan Turbo S weighs more than a Toyota Fortuner SUV. Now some would think that because it's so heavy it won't be exciting, but that's just not the case. This Taycan Turbo S has an asphalt ripping (and/or tire-shredding) 1050 Newton meters of torque, as well as 625 PS in normal driving mode. When you activate overboost and launch control, the Taycan Turbo S can deploy the maximum 761 PS. Let's find out.
At a stoplight, all you really have to do is wait for the green light and punch the throttle. The acceleration -the way it pulls off the line- is ridiculous. We weren't going for 100 km/h on city roads; that would be stupid (and illegal) in city roads so I let off at 50 km/h, but that was enough. We know that electric motors in EVs have max torque already the moment you touch the throttle, but in the Taycan Turbo S, it's just insane. There's no wheelspin from any of the four tires; just a brutal determination to move forward. It will push you back into the seat, so much so that I actually got a bit of whiplash and a bit dizzy when my head whacked the headrest. Words can't do it justice, so just check the video above and see what it looks like. And mind you, I wasn't in overboost mode yet.
I was blown away. No other vehicle I've driven - be it a Porsche 911 Turbo or the Ferrari 488 GTB - can compare by sheer initial acceleration. We were only sampling the vehicle for a few hours, but already I was loving it. And they say that when they do start selling the Taycan here, the pricing will be closer to the Panamera Turbo S, even though the performance is comparable -if not better- than the 911 Turbo S.
Given that we were in the city, we couldn't explore the finer points of the Taycan's handling, but we can say that you can truly feel the advantage of having such a low center of gravity with the batteries positioned where they are. It feels like it can corner flat, but we have to really take it out of town to find out for sure, and that brings us to the issue of charging.
Apart from charging stations at very select service stations and plans to put up charging stations at Porsche dealerships (and by other automakers at their dealerships), there is no widespread infrastructure for proper charging stations for electric vehicles. The only charging you can count on is the 1.8-kilowatt charger that the Taycan Turbo S comes with, and you can plug it into any AC electrical socket.
The reason is that it will take 2 days and 7 hours to fully charge a Taycan from 0%. That's like going online with a 56 kbps dial-up modem instead of today's modern 4G or fiber-optic connections. There is another solution that Porsche can arrange for clients, and that's a 3-phase 11-kilowatt charger that can do the same in about 8.5 to 9 hours. This charging system, however, requires that you contact the power company (i.e. Meralco) to have a three-phase outlet installed in your garage.
The way I see it, Porsche Taycan Turbo S customers will likely drive their vehicle in city limits even though it has a maximum claimed range of up to 412 kilometers. That's fine for general commuting to and from the office for board meetings, but not for going to Clark Speedway or driving on the expressway. And even then, you wouldn't want to wait 55 hours to recharge your empty battery by plugging into the outlet at your local Starbucks.
If electric-power is to be the future of sports cars, then there really is a lot of promise when it comes to outright performance and driving thrills. Charging, however, has a lot of catching up to do.