Andre Lam Takes On The Electrified Porsche Taycan 4S.
Porsche’s first foray into the world of EVs is their Taycan. There are a few models in the line up including the curiously named Taycan Turbo even when there is no turbocharger to speak of. Porsche’s reasoning is that their buyers are used to the existing nomenclature and hierarchy of models hence the retention.
Back in 2013, Porsche released their 918 Spider with a hybrid performance drivetrain. Their reason? Porsche felt Hybrid was the future (at least until the next hypercar). But after just half a decade, their view changed dramatically, probably due the presence of Tesla in the market.
The waiting game, primarily for the battery technology to mature further was cast aside in order not to allow Tesla to steal a first-mover advantage that would become too commanding. So Porsche fast-tracked their Taycan development and it now carries the blueprint for their future.
You would be forgiven if you thought the Taycan resembled their Panamera. It appears this was a conscious effort on Porsche’s part not to alienate their potential buyers with a funny looking electric vehicle like many other manufacturers have done like the BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf. It appears as long as the Panamera but is narrower and lower. Also, it has a much lower drag coefficient at 0.22 Cd owing to the fact that the voluminous cooling vents are not really necessary.
The EV batteries are both bane and boon. Why? Batteries are heavy, really heavy if they are to reach the range of an average Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car (not diesels!). The batteries are estimated to be around a third of the EV’s weight and for more range, you need more batteries. However, they can be packaged such that they lie at the very bottom of the car’s platform aiding the low centre of gravity resulting in favourable handling characteristics to offset their weight penalty.
It seems the comfortable range for the consumer is around 400 kms even though most daily distances clocked are far lower than that unless one is a taxi driver or busy school mum. The Taycan 4S we tested has a range of 386 km with its 79.2 kWh battery as standard but there is an option for the more powerful (and heavier) 93.4 kWh (414 km range) one from the Turbo or Turbo S. Unique to Porsche is the 800V system which is double that of all the other manufacturers to enable rapid charging.
The Taycan 4S is positioned in the middle of the Taycan family as there will be a future base Taycan below the 4S but until that is launched the 4S is the entry-level Taycan. The 4S uses the same electric motor configuration as the Turbo and Turbo S but only shares the front motor with the more powerful siblings. Its rear motor is smaller than the Turbo’s resulting in a system power of 530 PS (525 hp). Torque is a massive 640 Nm available from zero rpm, meaning immediately.
Our test car has the option of a larger battery pack so power reaches 571 PS (563 hp) but one should take note that ticking too many of the option boxes elevates its price perilously close to the Turbo pricing and the bigger rear motor isn’t one of the options. If you want 625 PS or more you will need to pony up for the Taycan Turbo or Turbo S.
With the 2-speed transmission attached to rear AC synchronous motor the 4S zips silently to 100 km/h in just 4.0 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h. Were this introduced a year earlier we would have been awed but now we need the might of the Turbo S to knock our socks off with its claimed 0-100 km/h time of 2.8 seconds.
Of course, 4.0 seconds is fast enough and more importantly, its ability to accelerate hard in an instant makes this Taycan 4S so effective as a road warrior, zipping into the smallest overtaking spaces with the greatest of ease. Also important is the effectiveness of its brakes. Porsche is really good at making their cars stop and with the PSCB (Surface Coated) hybrid-ceramic brakes there is reassurance aplenty when it comes to wiping off speed.
Today we have also arrived at the fully electronically curated drive experience. Gone are the days where the steering feels in a certain way because there is no device or aid that filters out what is happening between the tyres’ contact patch and the rim of your steering wheel. Of late the worst offender was the advent of the electric power steering removing almost all steering feel. But having said that, Porsche is still the best at developing steering feel that nearly resembles their best hydraulic systems.
The curated Porsche driving experience of the Taycan is nearly perfect. You really can’t complain. The chassis and steering behave in perfect unison and so proportionately you would be none the wiser. This is an important point as in the future when every sportscar wannabe has 600 hp electric motors, it is the drive experience that sets Porsche apart.
Setting up the drive experience is easily achieved by twirling the now-familiar Porsche control knob for Normal, Sport, Sport Plus or Range modes. The gradations are subtle but each has its advantages and drawbacks. The Normal mode is just about perfect for a fuss-free daily commuter drive but if you want a little more spice there is Sport mode which puts the rear gearbox into its lower gear for snappier acceleration.
Sport mode also firms up the steering and suspension. You would be happy with either mode for a wide array of driving situations. Sport Plus is really good if you are in a fiery mood or at the track. While it does a brilliant job at focussing more on driver involvement it has side effects. Chief of which is, it’s just a tad too firm and aggressive when there is no mood for that.
There is a mode labelled as Range that is able to get the maximum range possible from the charged battery. Top speed is reduced to just 90 to 140 km/h and is user selectable. In extreme circumstances, it will only operate the front motors to reduce power consumption. All flaps and vents are closed to get the best aerodynamic drag. And all ancillaries like the air-conditioning, headlights and suspension run at the lowest power setting.
Our choice is Normal mode as the suspension is well sorted and does not seem to lose much directness compared to Sport. Its steering is lighter allowing ease of use and remains just as positive and connected. Though firm, the suspension is really absorbent and is able to control the hefty 2140 kg (2220 kg with Performance Battery pack) with aplomb. Dynamically speaking, it really does not feel that heavy at all.
Surprisingly the 4S runs on N-Spec Michelin PS4 and not the stickier PS4S. Still, its handling balance is excellent using all available grip to best effect. Understeer is minimal and it is easy to read the limits. There is also sufficient traction for the tremendous accelerative ability the Taycan 4S dishes out repeatedly when one stomps on the throttle.
It might seem strange but we keep hoping for a red traffic light to take the position at the front of the grid. The acceleration is just so addictive and it is hedonistically satisfying to blast away in complete silence, leaving everything in its dust. The power delivery comes in a sustained swath of torque rather than the repeated peaky delivery through the gears in ICE cars, allowing for better focus at the helm.
As the Taycan is narrower than the Panamera it is more nimble and can be confidently piloted through narrower roads and spaces with confidence. It seems to be the upper limit in size for a proper sports sedan, especially one with such explosive power delivery. Also helping out is the optional Porsche Rear-axle steering system that works so seamlessly in the background to enhance stability and improve agility in the Taycan.
To provide a synthesised drive, sound must have been a contentious issue for the engineers but we are glad they included it because it actually sounds quite cool. It adds a sense of proportionality when driving around rather than eerie silence. It is also heard on the outside to warn pedestrians of the approaching Taycan.
Obviously there is a lot of LCD screens to display information and an extra space on the passenger side to have an optional display. While we lament the demise of the analogue dials it would seem out of place in this high tech car. Porsche has done a great job with the graphics that feed the driver with readable, decipherable information at a glance.
What the EVs have brought to our attention is just how much of a compromise the traditional gearbox is, even the DCT type. The instantaneous power delivery without the wait for kickdown response is where the EV excels. Some modern ICE engines are very impressive but none can deliver max torque at zero rpm. Only the intake and exhaust sounds are going to be something we will miss.
Alas this explosive power delivery is not exclusive to Porsche. Any manufacturer with a good battery and a pair of powerful electric motors can achieve similar results. More than ever before Porsche will have to dig deep to ensure it keeps its unique selling point. Contrary to the oft held notion that the EVs cannot provide sufficient engagement because of the absence of the ICE with its tuned exhaust and intake sounds, even their entry-level EV model, the Taycan 4S provides the requisite engagement of a proper sportscar with its characteristic Porsche Drive experience.
Specifications for Taycan 4S
> Engine: Two AC Permanent magnet synchronous motors
- > Transmission: 2-speed gearbox in the rear
- > Power: 571 PS (with optional Performance Battery Plus)
- > Torque: 650 Nm
- > 0-100 km/h: 4.0 seconds
- > Top Speed: 250 km/h
- > Range: 386 to 414 km
- > Energy Consumption: 21.1-25.6 kWh/100 km
Extras: Pixels – Porsche Taycan Turbo
Text: Andre Lam
Visuals: Porsche Media