The electric 2020 Porsche Taycan does everything fast. In Turbo S trim, it rips to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds on its way to a claimed top speed of 162 mph. A prototype Taycan lapped the infamous 12.8-mile Nürburgring circuit as quickly as a 2016 Cayman GT4. Put to use in the real world, the electric Porsche will even refill its 93.4-kWh battery from 5 to 80 percent in just 22 minutes or so at the most powerful charging stations.
HIGHS: Eye-popping acceleration, sports-carlike handling, fast-charging capability.
None of these feats is quite as remarkable, though, as how quickly the Taycan convinces you it’s a Porsche. Press the accelerator to the floor, bend the steering wheel into a sweeper, or bomb over a lumpy patch of pavement, and the family resemblance is unmistakable. Despite weighing 5246 pounds and dispensing with all the personality inherent to an internal-combustion engine, the Taycan Turbo S’s dynamics are as true to the Porsche ethos as the car’s $186,350 starting price.
Looks Like a Porsche, Corners Like a Porsche
The Taycan seats four or five passengers inside a sedan body that’s roughly the same length and width as a Tesla Model S, with a roof that sits about two inches lower. From there, the similarities between the Tesla and Porsche grow more tenuous. While the Model S is a practical, long-range EV that happens to be blindingly quick, the Porsche is designed, engineered, and styled with performance as the overriding concern.
You can sense Porsche’s priorities even when the car is standing still. The Taycan’s hood slopes away too fast to see it from the cockpit, framing the road between its suggestive fenders. The falling roofline mimics the 911’s while still leaving enough headroom in the rear for riders up to six feet tall. The Turbo S’s standard 18-way power-adjustable sport seats are mounted low enough that the Taycan dodges the common EV compromise wherein even cars have the seating position of a crossover.
LOWS: Loud tires, limited range, steep Porsche tax built into the price.
The Turbo S skims over the road on standard air springs, adaptive dampers, and 21-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires that are as wide as a ruler is long in the back. Carrying a 1389-pound lithium-ion battery pack beneath its floor and wearing optional $3590 active anti-roll bars, the Taycan whips around corners anchored in the upright position.
Around the skidpad, our Turbo S test car latched onto its line with a stout 0.99 g of lateral grip. Its steering wheel points toward corners with stereotypical Porsche precision, although the feel and weight aren’t quite as perfectly dialed as you find in the brand’s sports cars. In spite of this corner-dissecting capability, the Taycan never feels stiff or harsh.
The sophistication of the damping and the body control are such that there is no ride-quality penalty. This combination of sharp handling and supple ride is Porsche’s moat, the brand-defining attribute that no other automaker seems capable of reliably replicating.
Doing EVs Differently
Like every electric vehicle, the Taycan is Teflon smooth and library quiet in its power delivery. Until you perform a launch-control start, that is. With the front and rear electric motors combining for a 2.5-second zap of 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, the Taycan’s launch is even more unhinged than the Tesla Model S’s Ludicrous mode.
The thrust will wrap your lungs around your spine and sink your lunch into your legs, and just as your mind is catching up with your body, the rear motor’s two-speed transmission literally smacks you in the back of the head with an additional punch.
With our test equipment recording, the Turbo S jolted to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. That makes it the third-quickest vehicle we’ve ever tested, tied with the Bugatti Veyron and close behind the Porsche 918 Spyder and Lamborghini Huracán Performante. It’s common for acceleration to taper off as speed builds in an EV, but the Taycan bucks the trend, clicking off an effortless 10.5-second quarter-mile at 130 mph.
The Taycan is the first EV to feature a multispeed transmission, which allows for quicker acceleration in first gear and greater efficiency and top speed in second. The Porsche only starts in first gear in its Sport and Sport Plus drive modes, and you’ll feel only the faintest interruption in the torque when it shifts in most situations. But during a launch, the transmission shifts hard and fast with no concern for anyone’s comfort.
It’s unlike anything we’ve experienced in an EV.
Equally unusual, there is no one-pedal driving in the electric Porsche. The Taycan bucks EV convention and provides minimal or no regenerative braking when the driver lifts off the accelerator, depending on which of the three selectable modes is in use.
With regen set to On, the electric motors slow the Taycan just enough to mimic a coasting internal-combustion vehicle. Turning the regen off entirely allows the Porsche to sail freely down the road. An Auto setting cleverly uses the forward-facing camera and regenerative braking to maintain a gap between the Taycan and the car ahead of it.
For Porsche, the lack of coasting regen is a philosophical statement. The engineers figure it’s easier for a driver to modulate the deceleration with one pedal rather than two. Use the brake pedal as you would in a gas car and, Porsche says, the Taycan will perform 90 percent of everyday braking with the electric motors capturing electricity.
When the brake-by-wire controller engages the conventional friction binders for more aggressive deceleration, it does so by imperceptibly blending the two systems. Hammer the pedal as hard as you can, and the Turbo S stops from 70 mph in 155 feet. That’s not as short as Porsche’s sports cars, which occasionally duck under 140 feet, but it’s right in line with many lighter gas-powered sports sedans.
Range (Probably) Doesn’t Matter
The EPA rates the Taycan Turbo S’s range at a dismal 192 miles. The Turbo S’s most comparable competitor, the Tesla Model S Performance with 21-inch wheels, claims an EPA range of 326 miles. While the Porsche can recharge more quickly than the Tesla, the number of charging stations that can provide the 270 kilowatts needed for the 22.5-minute, 75-percent recharge is a fraction of Tesla’s Supercharger stations.
None of this is likely to matter to Taycan buyers, though. Just as the Tesla faithful look past that company’s quality and customer-service woes, we’re guessing most Taycan buyers won’t mind the Porsche’s stunted range. A $204,330 electric Porsche like our test car is unlikely to be anybody’s only vehicle—or their only Porsche, for that matter. Those who collect expensive and special Porsches should take notice of this one. The Taycan faithfully abides Porsche’s values while rewiring our understanding of what an EV can be.