It’s one thing to be hurtling along a highway at 200kmph in a sportscar built for speed, performance, safety and comfort. It’s quite another to hit those speeds on a grey, rainy afternoon in Maharashtra.
In a car like the Porsche Taycan, it takes about 10 seconds to go from zero to 200kmph—which, in case you were wondering, is very, very fast. In the Mumbai monsoons though, when walls of torrential rain pour down and visibility drops, hydroplaning becomes a real danger. Fortunately, Porsche’s all-wheel drive and traction control systems operate five times faster than conventional ones. If any wheel has more slip, the electric motors regulate it in milliseconds, which is essential while driving in heavy rain or on snow and ice. Intense LED lamps designed to give you optimum vision in bad weather and lightweight ceramic composite brake discs, almost 16 inches in diameter, serve as additional safety enforcers, lowering speed safely and swiftly, and transporting the Taycan out of the passing storm.
The Taycan, Porsche’s first all-electric car which went on sale in 2020, now outsells the legendary Porsche 911. The German carmaker sold more than 41,000 Taycans worldwide last year, which is commendable considering that the six-cylinder 911 itself had a better-than-normal sales year with close to 39,000 cars delivered. Of course, there are longer waits for the iconic 911, but even so, the quick adoption of the Taycan is impressive.
The name Taycan, Porsche says, derived from two terms of Turkic origin, and roughly translates to the “soul of a spirited young horse”—and appropriate name for a fast, playful car like this. The Porsche-Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission, a dual clutch automatic transmission designed by Porsche in the 1980s for motorsports, is now a staple in all new Porsche vehicles. But for the Taycan, Porsche has innovated too. The two-speed transmission installed on the rear axle is new. First gear gives the Taycan more acceleration from a standing start, while second gear with a long gear ratio ensures high efficiency and power reserves.
The Taycan silhouette is familiar, from the sporty roofline sloping to the rear, to the highly sculpted side sections. The slick but minimal cabin and the pronounced wings are typical of the brand, and yet the Taycan does have its own unique look. One feature that stands out is the moon-roof, which is composed of a single large piece of super-tough tinted glass that allows the driver a sense of being one with the elements, and is reminiscent of the 911 Targa. The version I drove is officially called “frozen blue” but is really a muted turquoise. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is a colour that has been in vogue of late.
Inside, the Taycan feels familiar too, though it is powered by a large battery and software as opposed to gallons of petrol and hunks of metal and interconnected combustion-engine components. The innovative instrument cluster consists of a curved 16.8-inch screen with the rounded look typical of Porsche. Keyless entry and metallic accents add a touch of luxury. Under the hood, the lithium-ion battery is capable of generating over 300 bhp. If you miss the growl of the Porsche, the controls allow you to turn on the “Porsche electric generated sound”, which plays up the quiet engine sound that sounds different from fossil-fuel Porsches.
Driving the Taycan is fun. It’s fast and sporty, and the range of the battery doesn’t drop several kilometres each time one drives a few feet. This has to do with its weight, made super-light by the extensive use of aluminium. While the Taycan has galvanised steel for certain areas, such as the A-pillar structure, B-pillar inside/outside, side roof frame and seat cross member, the bonnet, tailgate, doors, side sections, roof and front wings are all made of aluminium. Even the front and rear axles are aluminium, as are the brakes. Large 19-inch wheels make this four-door coupe stable even at high speeds, even though the overall elevation is that of a sports car. So, drivers need to go slow on speed bumps and patchy roads. There is a nose-up option that allows drivers to modify the suspension somewhat but that’s only at lower speeds.
While the performance is a given, there’s a long list of luxuries that include four-zone climate control, massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. The touch screen allows for AC temperature and fan speed to be set up from the console control panel. The Taycan has four driving modes—Range, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. This last one markedly different from the first two. Porsche has always been a brand that prides itself on being a sports car you can drive every day and the Taycan lives up to that promise.
There’s sufficient space in the front and the back and parking isn’t much of a hassle even though owners will be wise not to leave it alone too long on city streets. If there is a downside it is that getting in and out of such cars is not for the unfit or the large-waisted.
When it comes to the price, layers of duties in India make this vehicle more than double the cost one would pay in other countries. Ex-showroom prices are ₹1.5 crore and goes up to about ₹2.5 crore. Charge times as per Porsche are fast and an hour of charging can generate sufficient juice for a few trips. My own experience showed that despite pushing the Taycan at high speeds and keeping all its systems turned on, the range of 400km at full-charge did not drop unpredictably or irrationally.
So what makes the Taycan so different, apart from the fact that it’s electric and a four-door sports car? For one, there’s truly unlimited acceleration thrust when one wants to bear down and keep pushing it, and that’s not an understatement given that its top speed is a mind-boggling 300kmph. And two, despite its electric heart, the performance that Porsche has cultivated and fine-tuned over several decades is intact. In other words, the horse may be young, but the spirit is all original.
Pavan Lall is a Mumbai-based business journalist and author of Yes Man: The Untold Story Of Rana Kapoor.
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