Review: Porsche Taycan 4S - an electrifying, synapse-frying performance car

Jason · Mar 20, 2021 03:00 PM

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"Why do petrolheads hate electric cars?" Asked my colleague Shaun as we barrelled along in the Porsche Taycan 4S. I didn't have an answer actually, because up until now, electric cars didn't really do it for me. I have driven a Nissan Leaf before this, and I quite liked it. But did it stir my loins and make me wanna buy one? Not really.

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But a Porsche Taycan? Who would say no to that? Well, at RM 699,986 (OTR without insurance, 0% SST) as tested, my bank account, most likely. Porsche's first forage into electrification is making all the right noises. Can an electric car really be an immersive steer? A Porsche one at that? Loins are properly stirred now.

Technological tour de force

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As much as this is a car that speaks to the emotion, you have to take a step back and marvel at the Taycan for being so fastidious and revolutionary in approaching the conception of the Taycan. An all-electric 4-door sports car, one that throws out all the regular conventions of performance cars? I did not see that coming.

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435 PS (530 PS on overboost), and 640 Nm, but that's just half the story. There is no combustion engine in sight, as the Taycan gets its propulsion from an electric motor on each axle. Fuelling these motors is a 79.2 kWh battery. All you need to know is that, on a full charge, you get about 408 km, if you drive like a sane person (which you won't). 

Because of the inherent abilities of electric motors, it doesn't need a transmission to have many gears, and so it is the case here. Just a 2-speed 'box on the rear motor and that's it. 

Porsche through and through, inside out

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From a mile away, you can tell that the Taycan is a Porsche through and through. The Taycan's lines pay tribute to so many Porsche icons, past and present, and to my eyes looks like a 4-door version of the 992-generation 911, in proportion and also profile. Low slung, aggresive, very Porsche.

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All the slats, air curtains and vents on the bodywork are functional, to aid aerodynamics. Geek factoid, the Taycan's rear spoiler and door handles are retractable, so they sit flush with the bodywork when not needed. Very neat indeed.

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Spoiler and door handles retract when not needed

The colour scheme of our tester was also rather attractive, and was a big help in clearing traffic. This is important because you'll definitely see the car before you ever hear it coming. So, choose a eye-catching colour if you're buying one.

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Inside, the nod to other Porsche models continue. The instrument cluster is a five-dial layout (though the outer two look more like digital readouts), reminiscent of the 911 models, albeit in fully-digital format. Speaking of digital, you get no less than 5 high-definition screens across the interior, instrument panel included. Overkill? Gloriously so.

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Screens galore

The general ambience inside is one that is sombre, but sporty. The sense of occasion comes from the tech-fest of multiple screens and the driver-centric cabin . If you're looking for opulent luxury, that's not Porsche's brief. Instead, this environment is most inviting to one who loves nothing more than a good drive, which brings us to....

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A tad cramped back here

Drives like a Porsche?

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So my colleague Arif asked me, "What does 'drives like a Porsche' mean?". To me, Porsche cars have always nailed all the driving fundamentals. Driving position, visibility, steering feedback, throttle response, and a very organic feedback from the chassis. So, does the Taycan drive like a Porsche? 

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That will be a massive 'YES'. In typical Porsche fashion, the driving position is perfect, you sit in the car, not on it. All the major controls are within easy reach for the driver. Visibility is examplary (performance driving is always about matching speed with vision), with the front wings visible from the cockpit to make the Taycan so easy to place. Then you select D and drive off. 

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At first, it's unnerving because you feel forward motion and hear nothing more than a whirring sound. But, as you press on, the Taycan starts to gel and make sense. This is probably the greatest compliment I can pay the Taycan, that it feels just like driving any regular performance car.

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Instantaneous throttle response

With so much power and torque available in those electric motors, Porsche somehow managed to bless the Taycan with superb throttle response. You ask for 10%, it responds with 10%. It's so sharp and precise, it makes the response of naturally aspirated engines feel ancient. Turbocharged engines? Let's not go there.

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On the straights, there's really no doubting how potent this electric powertrain is. You drop the hammer, the Taycan will take off like it was possessed. It was shocking and violent at the same time. Porsche quoted 4.0 seconds from 0-100 km/h. Our internal test? 3.8 seconds. My neck wasn't prepared for the savagery.

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On the subject of braking, yes the Taycan's stoppers feel quite good and bite well, in normal driving. Push harder, and it unravels slightly. As with most braking systems with regenerative capabilities, somehow the pedal feel isn't as predictable and progressive as it should be. It's much better than most brake systems of this ilk, but its stablemates fare better in this regard. 

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Beyond its firepower, the Taycan possesses a quite talented chassis. With a caveat, that being its weight (2,140 kg). The air suspension does a fine job of concealing its mass most of the time, aided by that stonking powertrain. Push it to tenth-tenths, and it starts to feel a bit ragged. And that is perfectly fine, as nobody buying a Taycan will expect it to be as nimble (that's the word) as a 718 Cayman GT4.

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Tremendous steering, in the finest Porsche tradition

Despite that, I must give the Taycan a lot of credit for its steering feel. Porsche was one of the first to embrace electric steering systems, and have perfected it over time. The Taycan's helm is sharp, progressive, rich in feel and feedback. Amazing stuff.

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Nonetheless, the Taycan relishes long, high-speed sweepers as opposed to tight, technical B-roads. Its breadth of abilities feel very much like a sporty Grand Tourer to me, albeit one that gives me a slight range anxiety. Due to Malaysia's poor EV infrastructure, charging stations for the Taycan are few and far in between, hence the need to manage its charge carefully.

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Charging ports on both sides, left for DC (fast-charging) and right for AC current

Thankfully, the support from Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP) personnel was something we're grateful for. When we ran low on charge, all we had to do was head back to the showroom to quickly top up using their DC 175 kW fast-charger (26 to 73% in under 40 minutes), and off we went again.

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Conclusion

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Much as some of us are adverse to it, progress and change are inevitable. That's what makes the human race amazing, we constantly find new ways to adapt, innovate, and move forward. And the Porsche Taycan is a big, bold step forward to the future of automobiles.

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If this is what the future looks like, then petrolheads (myself included) have no reason to hate or dislike electric cars. As the Porsche Taycan clearly demonstrates, we are at the sharp end of electric cars already. Once battery technology gets refined and democratised, and with the right infrastructure support, electric cars will come on stream. I, for one, very much look forward to that.

 

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