This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.



This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

This is our first look at the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the range-topping Taycan Turbo S. The former is shown in blue; the latter is in white.

The most impressive part about the Porsche Taycan, which I briefly experienced -- in prototype form and from the passenger’s seat -- on the short, tight track at the Atlanta Porsche Experience Center, wasn’t the launch-controlled sub-3-second sprint to 60 mph; a handful of internal combustion-powered cars can manage that feat.

Nor was it watching the small fleet of EVs (wearing ugly but effective camouflage that included fake taillights and stick-on exhaust tips) aggressively wheel their way around that track, floating like the heavy cars they are yet somehow always finding precision and hooking up with a squeal of tires.

No, it was a point on one of the straights when, with only a moment’s warning, the test driver stood on the accelerator of the already cruising car and rocketed up to triple-digit speeds with glue-you-to-your-seat intensity. It was so effortless, so jaw-droppingly instant.

It seemed to be Porsche’s way of saying that its debut EV, a radical leap into the future for a storied marque, was both electric car-quick and autobahn-fast. It was surefooted enough to handle flogging on a tight track. And it could do it reliably, lap after lap, all day long, never mind the summer heat.  

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

A short ride in a camouflaged Porsche Taycan -- disguises included fake tailpipes -- was enough to drive home the point: Porsche first electric vehicle is one we should all be taking seriously.

We’ve speculated on the performance potential and technical capabilities of Porsche’s debut electric vehicle since the Mission E concept appeared on the world stage years ago. So, without further adieu:

At the outset, the Taycan will be offered in Turbo and Turbo S variants. (Remember, “Turbo” nomenclature is now being used to denote performance-oriented Porsches, irrespective of the power source ... or presence of an actual turbocharger.) Both Turbo and Turbo S models are built on an all-wheel-drive platform, with a 93.4-kWh battery pack sitting in between a single-speed permanent synchronous electric motor (in the front) and a permanent synchronous electric motor/two-speed transmission module (in the rear).

Power output for the Taycan Turbo is 616 hp (460 kW) with up to 671 (500 kW) of overboost power while using launch control. Maximum torque when using launch control is 630 lb-ft. For the Taycan Turbo S, output remains at 616 hp, but it's bumped up to 750 hp (560 kW) of overboost power while using launch control. Maximum torque, again while using launch control, is 774 lb-ft.

The difference between the two is not simply a few lines of code; the Turbo gets a smaller inverter for the front motor, capable of handling a 300 amp peak current; the Taycan Turbo S gets a larger inverter capable of handling 600 amp peak current. To oversimplify things, because the Turbo S’ inverter can handle higher peak current, it can get more juice from the battery pack to the AC motor than the Taycan Turbo faster. Hence, quicker acceleration.

Both cars have a top speed of 162 mph (260 kph); 0-60 mph takes 3.0 seconds for the Taycan Turbo and just 2.6 seconds for the Taycan Turbo S. Porsche says the cars will run a quarter-mile in 11.1 and 10.8 seconds, respectively. And this is repeatable over 10 times in a row, Porsche promises.

This is impressive even before you consider that the Taycan Turbo weighs -- per Germany’s DIN standards -- 2,305 kilograms, or nearly 5,082 pounds. The Turbo S weighs 2,295 kilograms, or 5,060 pounds. Expect a U.S. curb weight around 5,121 pounds because all of the Taycans we’re getting will be equipped with a glass roof. That’s loaded Cayenne territory. Fortunately, the Taycan has the lowest center of gravity of any vehicle Porsche has built; putting a whole bunch of batteries way down low will help with that.

Porsche has not released EPA figures for the Taycan yet, but according to WLTP, the Taycan Turbo will go between 237 and 280 miles (381-450 kilometers) per charge, and the Turbo S between 241 and 256 miles (388-412 kilometers).

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

The concept of an electric vehicle might be simple, but the implementation is anything but. Here's what's going on under the aerodynamic bodywork of the Porsche Taycan, the first EV from the German automaker.

One of the goals with the production Taycan, according to Dr. Bernd Propfe, director of the car’s platform development, was to capture the look and feel of the Mission E concept. The almost entirely digital interior (read more about it here) takes care of the “futuristic cockpit” part of the equation; the aerodynamic body, which looks a little like a 911 from some angles and a lot like a Panamera from most of the rest, takes care of the exterior.

Sizewise, Porsche considers it a C-segment car sitting below the Panamera (expect a production version of the Mission E Cross Turismo to slot in below the Panamera Sport sooner rather than later.). At 195.4 inches long and 77.4 inches wide, you can think of the Taycan as a little smaller than a Panamera, but about as wide as a 911.

It’s easy to conceptualize EVs as bodies dropped on top of sleek, self-contained “skateboard” platforms composed of the battery and motors, but the reality is far more complex -- and far more intricately integrated.  Here, the 93.4-kWh battery pack, consisting of 33 modules and 396 cells, is fastened directly on the Taycan’s unibody (interestingly, it’s 63 percent steel, with the most of the rest of the structure being aluminum) with 28 bolts. A diabolically complex thermal management system runs from radiators at the front throughout the rest of the car (batteries, and car passengers, are delicate things that operate best at certain temperatures).

With no tunnel for a transmission or a drive shaft, the Taycan has a very flat floor; the driver and front passenger will enjoy a low seating position. To help keep the rear seats nice and low as well, a “foot garage” has been carved out of the battery pack to provide rear passengers with some legroom.

A look at the Porsche Taycan's battery pack and motor "skateboard." The break in the battery modules is the so-called "foot garage" -- a way of buying rear-seat passengers a little extra legroom.

Up front, there’s a battery control unit more or less where an engine would be. Beneath that is one of the car’s two permanent magnet synchronous motors with a max speed of 16,000 rpm. Porsche says that while these motors are more expensive than asynchronous motors in part because of the cost of the permanent magnets, they are more compact and generate less heat while operating.

Electric cars typically make use of a single-speed transmission, which is great for ripping from a standstill to highway speeds (often speeding past internal combustion-powered cars on the way) but less efficient the faster you’re driving. The Taycan’s front axle is indeed single-speed, but in the back, there’s a compact two-speed transmission unit; the short-ratio first gear gives you that characteristic shove off the line, but the longer-ratio second gear helps with efficiency and high-speed performance. (Conceptually, this reminds us of the two-speed rear axles used in ancient times.)

Because the front and rear motors operate as two distinct subsystems, the Taycan can instantly and fully vary torque distribution between the front and rear of the car. Further, the Taycan is equipped with rear-axle steering -- which Porsche says improves both high-speed stability and low-speed maneuverability -- and an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential.

At each corner, the car rides on three-chamber active air suspension; in addition to helping manage ride comfort, this lets the car drop up to 22 millimeters at speed for better aerodynamics. This suspension is similar to the one employed on the Panamera, but it’s been modified as needed to accommodate the Taycan’s unique packaging -- for example, since there’s no engine up front, the nose of the car can be dropped somewhat.  

Also at each corner: Massive brakes filling out the Taycan Turbo’s 20-inch, or the Turbo S’ 21-inch, wheels. On the former car, they’re 16.3-inch discs in the front and14.4-inch discs in the rear; the Turbo S gets 16.5-inch and 16.1-inch ceramics front and rear. Both cars get 10-piston calipers up from and four-piston calipers at the rear.

The huge discs certainly look the part. But, somewhat ironically, these brakes do very little under normal operation: The car’s regenerative braking systems can pull in up to 265 kW, meaning up to 90 percent of braking is handled by recuperation. Basically, you’re more likely to have to replace your pads due to aging -- six years is the Porsche-specified interval -- than you will from use.

You’ll note that the Taycan cannot exactly boast class-leading range; you can now purchase a Tesla Model S that can go up to 370 miles on a charge -- an impressive figure that no one else has been able to touch on a production vehicle.

But one thing Porsche engineers and spokespeople repeated at a recent technical workshop, enough to make me suspect that it was some sort of mantra guiding Taycan development, was “reproducible performance on a stable level.”

The Taycan uses an 800-volt electrical architecture -- more than double the 350 volts of, say, a Tesla Model 3 or a Chevrolet Bolt. This lets Porsche use smaller-gauge cables throughout the Taycan, saving weight. The more marketable advantage, though, is that it allows for higher maximum charging power. At the moment, the Taycan can charge at a maximum of 270 kW. But the 800-volt architecture is ready for a future where infrastructure permits 400, or perhaps even 500, kW charging capability.

That’s a little ways off. Right now, Porsche envisions a world where you’ll charge your Taycan mostly at home with a 240-volt charger, topping the battery off nightly at a slow 11 kW rate over the span of six to eight hours. This will be the vast bulk of charging -- 80 to 90 percent, per Porsche. While you’re on the go, you’ll likely plug into a 400-volt charger putting out 150 kW, or perhaps another 11 kW charger at your office.

And for those cross-country road trips -- the edgiest of edge cases for the overwhelming majority of drivers, but the ones that seem to command the popular consciousness -- you’ll plug into a network of high-speed chargers. At today’s 270 kW capability, you’ll be able to take the Taycan from 5 percent to 80 percent charge in 22.5 minutes. Using Porsche’s charging planner and battery preconditioning technology, you’ll be able to do that whether it's zero degrees or 70 (there’s that reproducible performance/stable level thing again).

Why does this assume you only want an 80 percent charge? It’s a tradeoff: Battery-charging speed depends on a number of factors, including the state of charge of the battery, and getting that last 20 percent takes a longer than it’s worth if you’re on the go. Porsche figures off you’ll save time by charging until you have, say, 200 miles of range, then zooming off to your destination (or the next 270 kW charging station) rather than waiting for a full pack. Its Charging Planning feature, built into the car’s navigation, will help you plan the most time-optimized route, taking charging stops into account.

If this all seems contingent on a vast and mostly unbuilt network of private and public chargers, well, you’re right; this is a hurdle for all EVs, not just the Taycan. How city-dwellers without access to private garages, and private chargers, will keep their vehicles topped off remains to be seen. But we didn’t adopt gasoline cars because there was a gas station on every corner.

At first glance you could almost fool yourself into thinking there was an engine up there. There's a lot going on under the skin of the Taycan.

The Taycan was “a big challenge for us -- even bigger than we thought it would be,” Dr. Stefan Weckbach, VP of product line for the Taycan, admitted at our technical workshop. This is not the kind of thing Porsche could afford to mess up. With the Taycan, he said, Porsche was trying to do nothing less than “transfer our soul into the electric world.” That’s a dramatic way to put it, maybe, but first impressions do matter -- especially when you have a Porsche-size reputation to uphold.

On paper, there’s nothing mind-blowing about the Taycan’s acceleration or top speed, and certainly not its range. What’s more striking is how confident it feels for a first effort. It’s how it all seems to work together. How consistency and reliability -- and yes, “reproducible performance at a stable level” -- means you hopefully won’t be participating in a grand experiment when you buy a Taycan; there should be appeal here for more than just early adopters.  

This might seem like faint praise; it’s meant to be anything but. We’re moving into a stage where competence is more important than superlatives when it comes to EVs (or, at least, we should be).

And if you’re so jaded that the prospect of 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds, in eerie silence, doesn’t move the needle, a few minutes in the Taycan -- even if it’s just the passenger seat -- will do a lot to change your mind. 

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