Electric dreams

Electric dreams

From a daily commuter car to a weekend track warrior, the fully electric Porsche Taycan EV is primed to fulfil your every need

With as many as 300 units of the Porsche Taycan EV sold in Thailand since its launch last January, it's clear that the selling point of full-electric vehicles is not solely green issues but also driving performance.

With that kind of sales success, Porsche decided to expand its EV lineup in Thailand last month with the Taycan Cross Turismo variant, which will be available as soon as the test car is ready.

But before that happens, we think it's a good time to review the rear-wheel-drive Taycan base model, priced at 6.39 million baht.

Driving the Taycan

While diehard Porsche fans may be causing a stir about the Stuttgart-based company's decision to enter the EV world, the company has made it clear that the production of petrol sports cars, like the 911 and 718, would continue.

If you think that driving a fully electric vehicle is too boring, it's time to think again. As you approach the car, the door handles pop out, preparing you for an EV experience. Press the start button and the welcome chime reminds you of a spacecraft in a George Lucas film.

The Taycan is powered by an electric motor driving the rear wheels and comes with a 79.2kWh battery pack (33 modules, 396 cells) that is cleverly laid out to maintain a low seating position. The Taycan comes with 800-volt technology (max charging capacity of 270kW) with smaller cables to reduce weight. Porsche claims the battery can be fully charged in eight hours with an 11kW home AC charger. Charging times are reduced dramatically with a 150kW DC charger, with 5-to-80% charging in 1.3 hours. Taycans with Performance Plus batteries allows for 25-minute quick charging.

Porsche claims a range of 354km to 432km for the Taycan, which is one of the weaker points, particularly if you compare it with the 575km range of the Tesla Model S.

The electric motor produces 326hp (408hp during overboost) and 345 Nm, and is paired up with a two-speed transmission -- the gear lever is difficult to find though. The small lever is located behind the steering wheel in a blind spot on the left side, which is fine once you know where it is. And the good thing is that it helps clear the centre console area, where the main attraction is the 10.9-inch touchscreen.

At these speeds, it's better to put the Taycan to its limits in a racetrack. We found one located in Ayutthaya province, approximately 100km from Bangkok.

Driving on the expressway heading to Ayutthaya provides a good opportunity to test the aerodynamics of the car in real-life situations. We played around with various drive modes such as in sport when the adaptive suspension is lowered by 22mm, improving the Taycan's stability as we cruised to the old capital city.

Our destination is Wangnoi Speed Avenue, which has a drag strip and track zone that allows for more enthusiastic driving.

That includes Launch Control, which is simple to use in the Taycan. There are buttons to press or modes to get into. To activate, depress the brake and then the accelerator pedals and it's on. Floor the gas, release the brakes and off you go.

The drag strip was 1,000m long. The 402m mark leaves plenty of braking area (up to 600m).

With Launch Control, the Taycan is capable of accelerating from standstill to 100kph in 5.4 seconds (the time reduces as you move up the Taycan lineup) and topping out at 230km/h. The run takes roughly 13.7 seconds (also with Launch Control) and the Taycan remained stable as speed increased. The entry-level version comes with just standard cast iron disc brakes compared to ceramic brakes for the top version, but it performed brilliantly nevertheless.

Next was the track drive, and although the surface was smooth enough, the track width was pretty narrow, especially for a wide car like the Taycan.

There were a few chicanes to wind through and driving the Taycan proved to be a lot of fun, despite its two-tonne total weight. The finely-tuned chassis and the large amount of grip it offers is actually good enough to be used as a racing car.

Design

The Taycan is the first mass-produced EV from Porsche and comes with its own original styling. The exterior styling design is striking and it's easy to tell that this is a modern Porsche.

The front end gets four-point LED headlights. The lateral air intake ahead of the front wheels creates a flowing air curtain to reduce turbulence. Customers can choose between a fixed panoramic glass roof and a lightweight aluminium motorsport-styled one.

The standard Taycan comes with 19-inch alloys with 225/55 ZR19 tyres up front and 275/45 ZR19 at the rear.

The rear-end design is what defines the Taycan, with the seamless lighting strip, 3D "Porsche" logo in glass look and the Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA) rear spoiler system.

There's 407 litres of luggage area in the trunk, plus another 84 litres under the bonnet, giving the Taycan decent luggage capacity.

The interior is simple in design -- it's extremely tidy and unmistakably Porsche. A 16.8-inch curved display is located perfectly for glancing from time to time, while touch controls offer a luxurious feel.

What I loved most is the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) System that features a 10.9-inch central display on the centre console. It's divided into four menu bars -- Drive, Assist, Trip and Comfort. I was in Drive most of the time to change driving modes and to adjust power and suspension settings.

There's another 8.4-inch touchscreen in the centre tunnel that provides access to navigation, media, mobile phone and Apple CarPlay settings, as well as other digital lifestyle functions.

The Taycan's interior design fits well with the driver. It's pleasant to look at and the layout is impressive as it is driver-oriented and innovative in a number of ways. It does help the driver keep his eyes on the most important information when driving at high speeds.

The seats, upholstered in OLEA club leather, are sporty and deep, with the front pair coming with a 14-way power adjustment.

The Taycan comes with a multi-function sports steering wheel that can be upgraded to the GT sport option.

The quality of the materials found in the Taycan's cabin may be a little disappointing compared to conventional luxury car standards. However, it is made from sustainable Econyl thread, a recycled fibre that is manufactured from old fishnets, among other things. Thus I give it a good score here.

An adjustable ambient lighting system should be nice, but we had to return the test car before 5pm and had no chance to try it in the dark.

Standard driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping assist, lane change assist, night vision assists (via infrared camera) and surround 3D active parking assist.

Verdict

This two-wheel-drive fully electric sports saloon from Porsche comes with a 6.39 million baht price tag, however, there are many other options to choose from in this price range. But the question is why were 300 of these cars sold in Thailand, a country where EVs make only a small percentage of the total car population?

Well apart from the good looks that sell itself, an EV means owners spend less time and money on maintenance (cars with internal combustion engines have more parts to be serviced).

The Taycan can be driven normally as an everyday electric car -- but if you're looking for performance from a true Porsche, it also doubles as the perfect car for weekend track days.

PROS -- Superb handling, great aesthetics.

CONS -- Mediocre operating range, impractical touch controls.

For a video of this story, visit bangkokpost.com/vdo.

Price: 6.39 million bahtDrive system: Permanent magnet synchronous motor on rear axleMax power: 326ps (408ps with overboost power, Launch Control)Max torque: 345Nm0-100kph: 5.4 secsTop speed: 230kphBattery capacity: 79.2 kWhCombined electricity consumption: 3.57 km/kWhCombined range: (WLTP): 354-432kmTransmission: two-speed on rear axleSuspension: Adaptive air suspension with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management)Brakes (front/rear): discs/discs

DIMENSIONS

Length: 4,963mmWidth: 1,966mmHeight: 1,395mmWheelbase: 2,900mmTurning circle: 11.7mLuggage area: 84 litres (front), 407 litres (rear)Weight: 2,050kg

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