The German sportscar maker has embraced the electrification trend with a vengeance, and it is a slinky four-door saloon that will lead its charge.
Porsche says that the Taycan can swallow 100km-worth of charge in just four minutes.
EVERYWHERE, cars are increasingly becoming electrified, and most of the big automotive marques now feature, or will soon have, fully-electric models in their line-ups.
With increasing frequency, press releases are speaking of battery capacity instead of engine capacity, and of charging speeds and driving range instead of top speed and cylinder count.
Even Porsche, the world’s biggest sportscar maker, is not immune to the eco- conscious winds of change (and legislation) sweeping through the industry.
But instead of merely accepting the inevitable change, it has embraced it with a vengeance. And it is a slinky four-door saloon which will lead Porsche’s charge.
Based on the stunning Mission E concept car which Porsche unveiled to the sound of dropped jaws in September 2015, it will be named Taycan, a word of Turkish origin meaning “lively young horse”.
When launched late next year it will be Porsche’s first fully-electric vehicle, and will herald a wave of other electric models from the marque – in fact Porsche has already announced that the Taycan saloon will be followed up by a “shooting brake” variant, in the same vein as the Panamera Sport Turismo.
The company estimates that by 2025, over 50 percent of its range will be electrified, although this figure includes hybrids as well as fully-electric models.
The Taycan has a “four- plus-one” seating arrangement that lets a fifth occupant squeeze onto the narrow perch between the two seats.
In any case this is a radical step for Porsche, more so than for a maker of more mainstream cars like say VW or Nissan, because the pulsating, howling heartbeat of a combustion engine has always been an integral part of the soul and character of each of its cars. And now it is about to launch a car without an engine.
This being Porsche, the Taycan will still deliver storming performance – we are told it will produce over 600bhp and hit 100km/h in under 3.5 seconds.
It will be all-wheel-driven, with separate Permanently- Excited Synchronous (PSM) electric motors front and rear powering their respective sets of wheels.
So it is not the eco-nerd model which exists merely to reduce the average emissions of Porsche’s lineup for regulatory compliance, but will be a hugely desirable, standalone model in its own right.
As a medium-large saloon it will sit below the Panamera in size, and between the Cayenne and Panamera in the price hierarchy.
Apart from its headline power and acceleration numbers, another notable feature of the Taycan is the use of 800-volt technology, something which Porsche’s all-conquering 919 Hybrid LMP1 endurance racer also deployed to such great effect.
This more than halves the charging time over conventional 400-volt technology – the Taycan can swallow 100km-worth of charge in just four minutes – and also allows the use of thinner wiring, to save weight.
Range-wise, Porsche says the Taycan will do over 500km on one charge – which trumps the Jaguar I-Pace and is on par with top versions of the Tesla Model S.
Having seen half-built pre- production Taycans on the assembly line and a completed but mildly disguised one at Porsche’s research-and- development facility at Weissach, the final car would appear to remain faithful to the Mission E’s size and shape, but without quite the impossibly shrink-wrapped external cabin proportions of the concept car.
Seen in plan view, the car’s midsection is less pinched and its fenders are less voluptuous. It will have a separate bootlid instead of the Panamera’s liftback, and unlike the Mission E whose back doors are rear-hinged, the Taycan has a B-pillar and conventionally- opening rear doors.
While the Mission E looks more like a stretched Cayman in profile than a downsized Panamera, the opposite will probably be true for the production Taycan.
It should still look lovely though, with a muscular stance, a roofline lower than a Panamera’s, Porsche’s now-customary LED light bar spanning the broad rear end, and rectangular, multi-element headlamps hovering dramatically within cavities, not unlike those of the McLaren 720S.
Porsche describes the Taycan’s seating as four- plus-1, meaning that its cabin is designed for four, but for short rides a fifth person can squeeze onto the narrow perch between the two rear seats.
The instrument panel is a minimalist, free-standing, curved screen in front of the driver, and there are further minor displays stretching across the fascia to the passenger side.
The centre console is a broad ramp leading from the fascia down to between the front seats, and it contains one of the car’s two touchscreens (the other is on the fascia).
We will have to wait for the press drives next year to report on whether the Taycan, without a combustion engine, still drives and sounds like a Porsche.
Porsche’s own presentation at the media event conceded that “the sound of a car is its acoustic calling card”, and mentioned “emotionalisation sound” and “acoustic feedback for sporty driving”.
We were told that the Taycan would have an e-sound box in the front, which takes the actual sounds of the electric motor, filters out the less desirable noises and then relays the remaining, rortier sounds to the cabin.
However whether this provides the same “emotionalisation” as a howling flat-six engine at full chat remains to be seen.
The Taycan is a step into a brave new world for Porsche, but it is also surely the start of something very big.
THE TAYCAN IS A STEP INTO A BRAVE NEW WORLD FOR PORSCHE, BUT IT IS ALSO SURELY THE START OF SOMETHING VERY BIG.