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13 May, 2019 (All day) Thomas Geiger
We get taken for a ride in the new, all-electric Porsche Taycan ahead of its official arrival later this year
Porsche is aiming for nothing less than pole position with its new all-electric Taycan, that’s according to the car’s chief engineer Stefan Weckbach. To see how Porsche’s most radical ever model is shaping up we joined him for a passenger ride to see what’s in store.
Almost five years in the making, the brief for Porsche’s Tesla-fighter was clear from the very beginning. “We wanted the Taycan to be a true Porsche,” Weckbach tells us. “That means it must be a maximum performer under every circumstance for as long as the driver demands it.”
We’ve joined Porsche’s development team as they put the finishing touches to the Taycan following an extensive worldwide testing programme. The engineering team, and numerous Taycan prototypes, has covered millions of test kilometres in two-dozen countries and almost every climate from rush hour in Dubai to full throttle testing at the Nurburgring.
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For Weckbach a true Porsche means way more than just lateral acceleration – there’s also the matter of handling and agility. Not an easy task in a saloon measuring almost five meters long, two meters wide and weighing over two tonnes. But with a centre of gravity lower than in a 911 GT3, active and adaptive air suspension and rear wheel steering, the Taycan feels surprisingly agile and more compact than its true size when Weckbach pushes the prototype through the backroads on the outskirts of Stuttgart. Visually it may have more in common with a Panamera, but on-board it feels more 911.
What marks the Taycan out from the rest of the EV pack, such as the Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-Pace, is its low-slung seating position. It’s a crucial part of what makes the Taycan feel so agile and energetic – you feel as if you’re sitting within the car, cocooned by the cabin, rather than perched on top of it like you do in an I-Pace or Model S.
There are no official performance figures to speak of but north of 600bhp and four-wheel drive is almost certain for the range-topping model. From the passenger seat, at least, a 0-62mph time of around three seconds feels entirely believable; and it happens in near silence as Porsche is trying to engineer out every whine and whistle from its electric motors.
The Taycan prototype we’re in still wears a bit of camouflage, but it’s instantly recognizable as a Porsche. Familiar DNA design cues are visible everywhere from the flared haunches at the rear, to the full length LED light bar and cascading roofline to give it the svelte appearance of an elongated 911.
Although Porsche is keeping the cabin design and on-board tech under wraps until the car’s grand reveal at the Frankfurt Motor Show, we can say that the Taycan’s user interface feels another two generations ahead of the already fancy Panamera's. That means even fewer buttons, more screens and the most complex air vents we’ve ever seen – you can only adjust them electronically with the touchscreen.
Tesla’s grasp on the luxury EV market has been unchallenged for years, but Porsche is leading the charge to provide serious competition. The Taycan is fast, effortlessly refined and very well built. It marks a huge turning point in Porsche’s history. We won’t drive the car until the end of the year, but on this basis the 10,000 customers who have placed deposits won’t be disappointed.