Porsche's ground-breaking Taycan EV tested on European soil
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Our cars are changing, and Porsche’s new Taycan is the next big step. Straight from a Tom Cruise or Will Smith 2050 movie, the reality is that in 2020 there are still issues we’re dealing with electric vehicles, namely range anxiety and charging times.
The latest EVs are starting to address the range issue: over 400km on a charge is becoming common, albeit at a cost; some do even more. But a few are also pointing the way to a very fast-charging future.
The Porsche Taycan (tie-caan) is the first production EV to have an 800-volt power system.
That not only means a lighter, more compact electronic architecture; it also means it has the potential to charge at up to 270kW, providing you have the right equipment.
What does that mean? Well, most of the public DC “fast charging” infrastructure in New Zealand is 50kW, which means it’s the ideal excuse to have a break and a coffee. But these new chargers will change the way we look at EVs, pumping 100km worth of range into a Taycan in under five minutes; so maybe make that a small cup of coffee. The ultimate target with EV makers is to offer a recharge in the same time it takes to refuel a conventional petrol car, (let’s say under 10 minutes).
ChargeNet (which operates a nationwide network of DC fast chargers) will have a bank of four 350kW chargers operational atop the Bombay Hills, south of Auckland, this year. The project was approved and partly funded in round six of the government’s EV Contestable Fund last year. That’s great news for the very fortunate few who can afford a Taycan. But it also means that anybody with an EV can charge at the maximum rate their vehicle allows. So an Audi e-tron will be able to charge at up to 150kW, a Hyundai Kona Electric at nearly 80kW, for example.
The rate of charge also depends on a number of factors, including the current charge level of the car’s battery, which varies. But this is the way of the future, and NZ is one country near the front of the EV field.
Taycan charges fast and it’s a fast car: the top Turbo S does 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, and 3.2 for the Turbo. No, the Taycan Turbo S doesn’t actually have a turbocharger, as it’s electric. But Porsche uses the term ‘Turbo’ to signify its flagship model, along with its heritage. Yes, it’s a bit odd.
Porsche has a Taycan in NZ right now, albeit in left-hand drive and mostly for display purposes. A handful of right-hand drive cars will come in May and then the first round of customer cars in June.
We’ve driven the Taycan in top Turbo S form. Not in NZ, mind. But our first run in Austria and Germany did have its advantages, including plenty of opportunity to go to 200km/h and beyond, and recharge with the Ionity 350kW charging network that’s already running there.
Taycan is a halo model for the Volkswagen Group (its tech will be used in other EVs like the forthcoming Audi e-tron GT), but it’s also a halo model for the EV cause, proving that plug-in cars can be not just fast but also properly involving. Porsche-involving, even.
The real revelation with Taycan is the holistically high-quality driving experience. It’s heavy at 2.3 tonnes — it comes with the offer of performance and range — but it’s still a machine that offers a wealth of feedback.
The steering is beautifully consistent but a lot of what gives the dynamic package such character is the powertrain and chassis combination. There’s an electric motor on each axle and the rear is a two-speed unit, so you get up and down changes — especially aggressive ones in Sport and Sport Plus modes.
Porsche has been making extreme power work brilliantly with active suspension and torque vectoring for a long time now and Taycan is no exception. The difference is that the responses are heightened in an EV because there’s more precise control of the power output.
The tech and quality is truly impressive. Example: when pressing the brake pedal, 90 per cent of the time it won’t be the brakes slowing the car, but the electric motors, regenerating and recharging the batteries.
How much? That’s the awkward question because Porsche won’t announce NZ prices until mid-year. But as a barometer, the Taycan Turbo is around the same price as a Panamera GTS; guess a six-figure starting with a “3”.
Shocking? Maybe, although if Porsche buyers see value in that Panamera (and they do), then you could argue the super-high-tech Taycan is a bargain — and a sneak peek into the future of our everyday cars.
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