In an electric world how do you stay true to the caveat of being a sports car? Just ask Porsche, writes Liz Dobson
30 August 2023
When Porsche decided to create its first electric vehicle, the Taycan, the foremost factor had to be that it stayed true to its sports car heritage.
So when you sat in it, it didn’t feel different from its 911 GT3 or Carrera siblings, and when you drove it the Taycan had to drive like any other Porsche sports car, with the same performance and handling.
It is a Porsche, through and through.
Although Porsche is part of the overall Volkswagen Group, it hasn’t rushed into the electric vehicle race. Instead, gauging its customers, it knew that when it came to an electric vehicle it couldn’t be too outrageous or too sedentary.
Porsche introduced the Taycan as a concept car, called the Mission E, at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. I attended the press days, and at the time the focus was the increase in the power of the 911 sports car, with no thought that eight years later pure electric would represent nearly 20 per cent of total new vehicle registrations in New Zealand.
Instead, when I checked out the Porsche stand I was impressed that the Mission E looked like a four-door futuristic version of the 911.
Fast forward to September 2019 and Porsche unveiled the production version of the Taycan (pronounced “tie-kahn”).
The all-electric Porsche arrived in NZ in 2020 and was a hit for the local distributor.
Porsche New Zealand had a small number of display vehicles to tour its dealerships, with first customer deliveries late in the fourth quarter of 2020 and early 2021.
Porsche has the answer
I was in the Auckland dealership for just an hour when four people came in to order the vehicle. They varied in age, from people with young kids to existing older Porsche owners … and they were all excited to see the Taycan.
At launch there were three models available: the 4S, the Turbo and the top-spec Turbo S.
And before you say that you can’t call a non-internal combustion engine a “turbo”, Porsche has the answer. Since it first arrived on the 911 in 1974, Turbo has become a sub-brand, denoting the fastest models in every model line.
When it was launched here its main competition was the Tesla Model S, but it had it all over the American brand.
That’s because it stayed true to the caveat of being a sports car. Outside, it looks like an elongated 911 rather than a small Panamera sedan, while inside it looks like every other Porsche, down to the drive mode dial on the steering wheel, that scrolls through five settings: range (like an eco mode), normal, sport, sport plus and individual.
It had a 93.4kWh lithium-ion battery producing up to 500kW of power and 850Nm of torque, with 0-100kph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 260kph.
Based on a new “J1” platform, the battery sits between the two axles, each with a motor attached, four-wheel steering, suspension loosely related to the Panamera and a rear-mounted two-speed gearbox allowing the Taycan to reach its accelerative potential from take-off, but boost efficiency once you’re up and running.
Now Porsche New Zealand has added the GTS to its lineup, priced from $267,700 (at the time of print).
GTS stands for Gran Turismo Sport and it has a range of 354 kilometres with 0-100kph in 3.7 seconds via launch control.
Dial in sport and you feel that power and overtaking can be too brisk as you’ll find yourself well over 100kph within seconds.
But if you really want to have fun, select sport plus and start from zero, like a motorway onramp, and you get pushed back into your seat.
Thanks to Porsche’s ethos of it being a sports car, the handling and steering of the Taycan is what you’d expect from this brand; in sport mode around winding country roads the car hugged the curves, giving a dynamic drive and that’s also down to the fact that its centre of gravity is lower than a 911.
But there is one downside to Porsche’s promise and that’s only one level of regeneration of the battery, via the touchscreen, and only in charge and normal modes. In recuperation mode when you take your foot off the accelerator it eases off the power rather than maintain it or even add to your range as you would in Audi’s e-tron electric SUV.
Porsche NZ says the reason the Taycan doesn’t have a three-level system via steering wheel paddles like the e-tron is again that it is staying true to being a sports car.
But if you are still after a big, powerful, petrol Porsche then don’t worry, you’re covered. The brand recently had the global launch of the latest Cayenne large SUV, due in NZ later this year. And if you want something a little smaller, the new Macan medium SUV will launch in early 2024.
The new Cayenne debuts here with four engine versions. An extensive refinement of the four-litre V8 biturbo engine developed by Porsche replaces the previous V6 engine in the new Cayenne S. With a maximum output of 349kW and a torque of 600Nm (25kW and 50Nm more than its predecessor) it accelerates both the SUV and the SUV Coupé to 100kph in 4.7 seconds.
In addition, the output of the four-litre V8 biturbo engine of the Turbo GT has been increased 14kW to 485. The Cayenne Turbo GT accelerates from zero to 100kph in 3.3 seconds, with a top speed of 305kph.
Plenty of options
Entry to the Cayenne world comes with an optimised three-litre V6 turbo engine. It now generates 260kW and 500Nm, which is 10kW and 50Nm more than before.
The six-cylinder engine also forms the basis for the power train of the Cayenne E-Hybrid. In combination with a new electric motor that has been improved by 30kW to 130kW (176 PS), the combined output increases to 346kW (470 PS).
The line-up starts from $165,200 to $369,900 for the Cayenne Turbo GT Coupe.
Porsche will be launching the Macan early next year, with petrol versions and a fully-electric model too. You can expect to see the popular Macan GTS in the line-up with this luxury SUV one of my favourite vehicles thanks to the performance and superb sounding engines.
Don’t expect to see much of a change in the design of the Macan either, with its styling a stand-out against competition such as the likes of Audi’s RS Q3.
Liz Dobson is the former motoring editor of the NZ Herald’s Driven publication and website. In 2020, she established AutoMuse.co.nz and in 2022 was made a judge for Women’s World Car of the Year.
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