STUNNING PORSCHE TAYCAN DRIVEN IN MZANSI

Porsche has launched its first-ever series production electric vehicle (EV) in Mzansi. The new Taycan arrives at a time when the economy is not great and our electricity supply erratic. Serious challenges no doubt, but these don’t take away from what I consider to be one of best cars I have ever driven.

Three models arrive here; Taycan 4S, Taycan Turbo and the Taycan Turbo S. Notice that despite the lack of petrol or diesel engines, Porsche still decided to keep the Turbo monikers as a symbol of where those models are positioned within the range. Taycan, as previously mentioned, is an EV. Porsche is not new to the EV scene actually; there’s a story about the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model or Porsche P1. It was the first car designed and built by Ferdinand Porsche before he formed the company that bears his name today. And what do you know? It was an electric car. More like a horse-drawn carriage powered by batteries really.

Since then, several other electric/ electrified Porsches have appeared periodically over the years, including a 1900 hybrid car. Taycan though, is the first to go on sale in such a scale and it will be followed by the Macan EV in two years’ time. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, Porsche is not afraid of the electric revolution. In fact the Taycan demonstrates that the brand is more than ready for it.

Taycan is 4.96 metres long, 1.97m wide, 1.4m tall and has a wheelbase of 2.9m. These dimensions are almost the same as the Panamera’s, which makes this a very large car. Additionally buyers can request a 4+1 configuration so that there is some minimal seating at the rear middle. Because there is no engine under the bonnet, 81 litres of storage is available for smaller items. The boot carries 366 litres (407L in the 4S) with rear seats up, compared to 500 litres for the Panamera.

Porsche is using the Taycan to demonstrate what an electric future could be like, and while the car’s interior layout is familiar if you know current Porsche products, it is very different too. Pretty much all the important functions are accessed or activated via touch screen or touch knob, including starting up the motors, adjusting the chassis height, climate control, radio etc etc. Burmester were kind enough to supply the Taycan Turbo S with the optional 1 455W, 3-D surround sound system, complete with its 21 speakers.

All three models use two Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors, placed on the front and rear axles. The battery pack is installed under the body to optimise balance. These are based on new 800V technology, which is double the normal 400V. Taycan uses Porsche Recuperation Management (PRM) system which can recuperate up to a third of battery power during braking when doing normal, sporty everyday driving.

The 4S thus produces power from 360kW to 420kW (with the overboost function) as well as torque peak of 650Nm. It will accelerate from 0 – 100kmh in 4 seconds to reach a 250km/h top speed. Not bad at all for the “baby” of the range. The Turbo model produces between 460kW and 500kW, and torque of 850Nm. Porsche says it will go from standstill to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds and top off at 260km/h.

I drove the big boss, the Turbo S model, which delivers 460kW of power in standard garb (560kW in overboost), as well as a military tank-pulling 1 050Nm of torque. The result is simply astonishing. The 0 – 100km/h sprint is achieved in 2.8 seconds and top speed is also 260km/h. Porsche says in the first 2.5 seconds it is quicker than the 918 Spider hypercar.  That 0 – 100km/h launch – which I did three times – can be done over ten times straight without damaging the car. But what it feels like is possibly what fighter jet pilots feel like on take-off. Neck-snapping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping. Count to three now and just imagine it. Nothing prepares you for the first time. And the second time. And the third time…Distance markers, like trees and Ferraris, arrive and disappear in a blur behind the car, as though they were some old memory. In complete silence. Interestingly when driven like a “normal car” it actually feels like it. Like driving a Panamera. In Range Mode for example, the car moves off in a higher gear and top speed is limited to 110km/h.

Taycan being a Porsche means handling is of the highest order, even as you lug around over 2 tonnes of metal. Systems like Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Rear-axle steering which steers in the same direction at high speeds and in opposite direction at lower speeds, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) are at the centre of this control dynamism.

Big questions must be asked of electric cars, not just because the technology is still novel to most, but specifically in a country like ours where electricity supply is not as stable as it should be. So, what of the Taycan then? Porsche lists the 4S at a range of up to 460km, the Turbo at up to 450km, and the Turbo S at up to 412km. Thanks to compatibility, any Taycan can drive between Johannesburg and Durban by stopping and recharging halfway through at Harrismith using the Jaguar Land Rover/ GridCars charger there. Buyers can also have the Mobile Charger Plus home charging system installed in their garage. Apparently it only takes 4.5 hours to recharge an empty Taycan using the home charger.

IN4RIDE Publisher Thami Masemola posing next to the Porsche Taycan Turbo S during the South African launch. – Picture by Khulekani Dumisa.

The Porsche Taycan is undoubtedly a game changer in the EV sphere. Yes it will not be commonplace due to its high price. But it certainly shifts the bounds of what has been on offer so far, in pretty much every way. It is a technical and technological masterpiece. Taycan is the new EV standard and others will have a tough time keeping up. And just in case you’ve been wondering, it’s pronounced “tie-khan”.

Porsche Taycan Prices

Taycan 4S – R2 586 000

Taycan Turbo – R3 426 000

Taycan Turbo S – R4 027 000

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