Driven - Aug 2020

Silent but violent – New Porsche Taycan driven.

We’ve all experienced this scenario before: you’re sitting with either friends or a loved one and enjoying their company. Perhaps watching a movie or reading before bed, when suddenly, out of the blue – it hits you. At first, you’re shocked as you’re unsure if what you think is happening is really happening. At that point your brain indeed confirms that your suspicions are a reality and the inevitable question arises: “Did you fart?” Depending on who committed this heinous deed, the question is either met with silence and shame, or hysterical laughter. Either way, once you have the confirmation from the perpetrator, the stench often intensifies rapidly, inducing feelings of anger, confusion and sometimes giggles. This whole scenario takes mere seconds to happen. It’s unexpected; it’s jarring to the senses and in some instances, it feels deadly. The age-old saying remains true: “silent but violent”.

The same can be said about the new Porsche Taycan. How so? Well, it too is both silent and with its silence comes extremely violent acceleration. The only difference is that the Taycan will not hurt the environment. Yes, the “full-fat” Taycan Turbo S we recently sampled at the national media launch will reach 100km/h in 2.8 seconds. So, we can truly say that the Taycan can clear a room. Immediately. This figure is not what astounds you the most though, but rather how the vehicle reaches this speed. You see, unlike its most related sibling the Panamera Turbo S – which uses a snarling V8 powerplant – the Taycan is fully electric, meaning that all 1050Nm it produces is instantly dispelled in a way that is more shocking than your grandmother dropping a bomb at dinner. Since the Taycan runs on batteries, this also means that it doesn’t emit the traditional sound you would expect from a vehicle with a combustion engine. In fact, the smart people at Porsche have had to work at creating a spaceship-like engine tone in and out of the car to ensure that pedestrians know you’re coming. Besides that, the Taycan is near silent. Design-wise, the Taycan’s modern look screams at you, though it looks like a Porsche concept car driving on South African streets. People gawk, stare, inquire and of course capture every time you’re spotted in the Taycan. Understandably so as it is quite a fine specimen on the road. 

Under the bonnet. Is that even a thing anymore?

Without going all “sciencey”, the Taycan’s powerplant can be summed up like this. It uses two motors on each axle and an 800-volt Performance Battery with an over-boost function. The total figures are 560kW (100kW over-boost) and the aforementioned 1050Nm. Yes, you read correctly. The Taycan also uses a two-speed transmission with an extremely short first gear ratio which explains the slingshot launch control sensation. Being a Porsche, the Taycan is still every bit a Porsche as you can imagine it to be, with very dynamic handling characteristics. The Performance Battery is located at the bottom of the vehicle, giving it a low centre of gravity. The result is a very planted chassis and nimble front-end turn-in. The latter is due to the rear-axle steering which comes in handy since the size of the Taycan is not small. In fact, the vehicle weighs over two tons, but you wouldn’t know that since it feels very light on its feet. Size-wise, the Taycan can fit four adults comfortably and the whole vehicle begs to be driven for a long time as the 4D chassis control system makes for plush ride quality – perfect for gran touring. Long drives in an electric car? This is usually not the case, but the Taycan actually has good range for an electric car. If you behave, you can get over 400km in one charge, but naturally you can expect a more conservative figure when you take into account driving styles and types of roads such highways and city driving. Whilst we’re talking about being inside the Taycan, you’ll be happy to know that this vehicle keeps to its modern theme on the inside, with a minimalistic approach taken design-wise. Almost all functions can be controlled via the touchscreens, including the air-conditioning vents – a must-see. Like really, Google “Taycan air-vents touchscreen”. 

When you do need to charge your Porsche Taycan, it will take you 4.5 hours to juice it up to the brim at home with the AC charging unit. However, if you use a DC charger you can get 80% charge in 22.5 minutes and 100km of range in 5 mins. Our test unit’s charging station was touch-enabled, with the flap smoothly sliding into the body when opened – another cool feature in the Taycan.

How does it make you feel?

We still feel that there is a perception of a lack of excitement when it comes to electric cars. Time and time again, a vehicle with an electric powerplant proves that thrills can be provided by these silent assassins. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S takes these thrills to another level. Yes, the petrol head in you, wishes for a howling flat-six, but putting that aside, when you lock into the experience you soon realize that this. Is. Still. A. Porsche. Enough said.

The future. Now.

Porsche has proved that brands steeped in driver-focused heritage can play in new spaces without compromising their ethos. The Taycan represents a new dawn for Porsche, whilst still keeping the brand’s identity alive. For those looking to compare the Taycan to something else locally, they’ll realize that it’s a pointless exercise. The Taycan has no competition in South Africa, as Elon Musk has left SA high and dry when it comes Tesla. What this means is that there is no point in asking the question if one should buy this car or not. Those who want it, will get it – despite the price tag (over R4million rand for a Taycan Turbo S). All we know is that it’s a marvel. It’s a whole new experience and a great one at that.

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