2020 Porsche Taycan brings all-electric performance to Frankfurt
With nearly 800 hp on tap in its most powerful iteration, the first electric Porsche is ready to rock the autobahn.
Jon WongFormer editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
It's finally here. Four years after the Mission E concept debuted, and a week after its initial debut, the Porsche Taycan has arrived at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. It's already proven its chops by picking up a record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Watch this: Porsche Taycan is ready to prove a point
Likely even more important to buyers is that there'll finally be a real alternative to the Tesla Model S, which has long ruled the large luxury electric sedan roost. Whether or not Porsche will be able to loosen Tesla's stranglehold on the segment remains to be seen, but attractive looks, gonzo performance and a tech-laden cabin appear to put the Taycan in the position to do just that when it goes on sale later this year.
Visually, Porsche designers were able to carry over a healthy helping of design traits from the Mission E concept to the production Taycan. The exterior's hunkered-down stance, low-sloping front end, pronounced fenders, flush door handles and continuous rear light strip all make the cut. Four-point LED daytime running lights are also part of the package. At launch, the Taycan will be offered in a Turbo trim riding on 20-inch wheels, and Turbo S specification that gets standard carbon fiber trim and sits on 21-inch wheels. (Yes, we realize it's odd to use "Turbo" and "Turbo S" on a car that doesn't use turbochargers -- or, you know, an internal combustion engine.)
With a drag coefficient of 0.22, the Taycan Turbo possesses the lowest drag of any vehicle in Porsche's current production lineup. Full underbody paneling also contributes to its slippery aerodynamics. The Taycan Turbo S is slightly less efficient at cutting through the air, with a 0.25 drag coefficient.
At its core, the Taycan's body is built from a mixture of steel and aluminum joined together with a variety of different welding processes, screws, rivets and adhesives. Upping passenger safety is hot-formed steel for the body's pillars, side roof frame and seat cross member, and boron steel for the bulkhead cross member. All of this improves passenger safety.
For performance purposes, the shock absorber mounts, axle mounts and rear side members are constructed of die-cast or forged aluminum, while all body panels minus the front and rear bumpers are also made from aluminum to shave weight. In total, 37% of the Taycan is made of aluminum.
Watch this: 2020 Porsche Taycan is ready to tackle Tesla
The Taycan uses a new battery-electric drivetrain consisting of a permanent-magnetic synchronous motor on each axle, giving the Taycan all-wheel drive. Up front, power is routed to the wheels through a single-speed gearbox. At the back, thrust runs through a two-speed transmission with a short first gear providing maximum acceleration performance and a long-ratio second delivering top speed and efficiency. Power comes from a 93.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that doubles as a structural chassis component and keeps the center of gravity low.
The results are impressive: The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo puts out 670 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to a 2.5-second overboost period, Porsche estimates the Taycan will scoot to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, and cover the quarter-mile in 11.1 seconds. In Taycan Turbo S form, power increases to 750 horsepower and 774 pound-feet during overboost, for a 0-to-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 10.8 seconds, according to Porsche. Both models top out at 162 mph.
The all-important driving range depends on how hard the Taycan is driven, and what mode it's driven in. A Range setting puts the powertrain in an energy-sipping setting with a demand-based, two-wheel drive mode that decouples the rear axle. On the other hand, the most performance-focused Sport Plus delivers max power to all four wheels. A US-spec EPA range estimate isn't yet available, but Porsche's own WLTP-based testing estimates 279 miles of driving range for the Turbo, and 256 miles for the Turbo S. As with all other WLTP-to-EPA conversions, there's no accurate way to translate them, but note the US numbers will likely be slightly lower than these preliminary estimates.
Porsche developed an 800-volt charging system specifically for the Taycan. With it, Porsche says juicing the battery pack from a 5% state of charge to 80% takes just 22.5 minutes in ideal situations, with a DC fast charger offering 270 kW of power. Charge times are dependent on weather conditions and infrastructure, but Porsche has taken steps to address both issues.
To reduce charge times in both hot and cold temperatures, the battery can be thermally preconditioned using a charging planner. Owners simply need to set a departure time in the planner and the car will automatically warm or cool the battery for optimal charging times.
Helping address roadside infrastructure issues, Porsche has partnered up with Electrify America, which currently has 268 charging stations in the US. An additional 160 are under construction, with plans calling for 600 high-performance charging stations being operational along highways by the end of 2020. Every Taycan sold in the US will come with a free first 30 minutes of charge time for three years at Electrify America locations.
At home, where Porsche expects 80 to 90% of charging to take place, the company is offering a charging dock and mobile charger connect with a 9.6-kW connector that'll juice up the Taycan in 11 hours. With an EV being the biggest power-consuming item on a house's power system, Porsche also developed an energy manager that can be installed in a home's circuit breaker. It's capable of managing a house's power flow, providing cost optimizing charging, using solar power and providing blackout protection by reducing the charge to the car if other household appliances, such as fridges or dryers, turn on and exceed the breaker's max power threshold.
Power is nothing without control, and the Taycan certainly has it, as proven by the aforementioned Nürburgring lap record. Helping to improve reflexes of the over-5,000-pound vehicle is the stiffest chassis to underpin a Porsche production vehicle to date, a super-wide track, center of gravity that's lower than a 911 GT3, an air suspension, fully variable all-wheel drive system, torque vectoring rear differential and quicker traction control reflexes. To sharpen things further, rear-axle steering will be standard on the Turbo S and optional on Turbo models, while a variable antiroll bar will also be offered.
To kill speed, the Turbo uses 10-piston calipers biting down on 16.3-inch brake rotors up front, and four-piston clampers with 14.3-inch rotors at the rear. The Turbo S is upgraded with slightly bigger, 16.5-inch carbon ceramic discs in front and 16.1-inch discs out back. Being a battery electric vehicle, the Taycan does feature pedal lift-off brake energy recuperation with different modes, ranging from off for pure coasting and full-on that Porsche says covers 90% of stopping events and reduces brake wear.
Heading inside, the 911-inspired cabin is simply designed, with a 16.8-inch, four-mode, digital instrument cluster occupying the highest point of the dash. Cabin trim offerings will include standard leathers and woods, but also include sustainable options such as naturally tanned leather and even leatherette for customers who want a cow hide-free environment.
All Taycans will come with glass roof giving 100% UV protection thanks to a combination of dark glass, tint and a low-e coating to keep things light and airy inside. Speaking of air, the climate controls are fully digital, meaning you even control the direction of the vents through a control panel in a touchscreen. Two modes are preprogrammed for direct and indirect airflow, while an individual setting can let owners fine-tune vent settings to their liking. A two-zone climate system is standard, but a four-zone setup is available, giving rear-seat occupants a 5.9-inch screen to control their half.
A new infotainment system debuts in the Taycan, with a 10.9-inch center touchscreen offering navigation with real-time traffic, voice commands,
and the first full integration of Apple Music in a vehicle. To play tunes,
and Burmester audio systems will be offered and will be capable of playing Apple Digital Masters files for studio-quality sound from a library that includes more than 50 million songs.
Another interesting Taycan infotainment wrinkle is the availability of an additional 10.9-inch touchscreen for passengers. The roughly $1,100 option enables passengers to search for music and enter destinations or waypoints independent of the center screen.
On sale soon
The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and Turbo S will arrive in dealers later this year, with pricing beginning at $150,900 for the Turbo and $185,000 for the Turbo S if you reserve a car now. Both figures do not include $1,350 for destination. When the car officially launches, the starting price tag for the Turbo will increase to $153,310 and the Turbo S to $187,610.
While Porsche officials won't yet confirm if less potent versions of the Taycan sedan are in the pipeline, nobody has outright denied this fact, either. Judging from the multiple iterations of every other Porsche model in production, it's a safe bet that more Taycan models are on the way. What we do know, though, is a production car based on the Mission E Cross Turismo concept will hit showrooms by the end of 2020.