Test Drive

Porsche Goes Green With its First All-Electric Sports Car

It drives like a Porsche. It looks like a Porsche. It smells like a Porsche. Most importantly, the shiny new Porsche Taycan – the luxury auto brand’s first all-electric sports car – has a Porsche’s soul in it.

At least, this was the key message driven home (no pun intended) at the global launch of the anticipated vehicle on Wednesday, September 4 in Niagara Falls, Ontario – a fitting location thanks to its association with hydroelectric power.

“Every Porsche has a soul. It can’t be captured or described…it comes from the people behind it; each person who creates the cars, customers, fans, Hollywood legends and heroes, with their stories, words and actions,” said Porsche sales exec Detlev von Platen of the luxury German auto brand at the launch. Though certain Porsche traditions – like the unmistakably loud engine and the intense shifting of gears – may now be disrupted, the soul of the car remains unscathed. Or, so we’re told.

Four years in the making after the concept was first introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2015, the all-electric Porsche Taycan was unveiled in a high-tech pop-up showroom with the famous falls as a backdrop. Two other events took place simultaneously in Europe and China. A collective gasp quite literally filled the Niagara Falls space (and, assumingly, the others as well) when the battery-powered car – a sleek and sexy four-door sports sedan – finally made its grand entrance for its long-awaited debut.

At first sight, it appears that Tesla has some new competition. About the same size as the Tesla Model S, the Taycan retains the clean, curvy and compact Porsche look. The zero-emission vehicle launched with two high-performance variants; the Taycan Turbo and the pricier and more powerful Taycan Turbo S. Once the Taycan is available before the end of the year, it will offer ten different colour options and the choice between either two types of leather or the Race-Tex leather alternative, made from microfibers.

The Taycan Turbo features 670 horsepower, while the Turbo S amps it up, delivering 750 horsepower thanks to its “Overboost” mode, which boosts the car from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds. The top speed of both models is 260 kilometres per hour. The vehicle also excels in the battery power department; the Taycan boasts an 800-volt battery – as opposed to the typical 400-volt characteristic of other electric cars – and can be charged up to 80 per cent in just 23 minutes thanks to the fancy high-speed chargers available at Porsche dealerships. In just over five minutes, the battery can be recharged for a range of up to 100 kilometres. Taycan drivers can also charge their cars with up to eleven kW of alternating current (AC) at home. Impressively, the Turbo S features a range of up to 412 kilometres with one battery charge, and the Turbo has a range of up to 450 kilometres, although an official EPA test number is not yet available.

Both Taycan models will feature a 16.8-inch digital instrument panel inspired by the original Porsche 911, a 10.9-inch infotainment screen and an 8.4-inch touchpad. Keeping up with the times, the touch screen and voice commands (which answers to “Hey, Porsche…”) replace features historically controlled by switches.

In addition to an entirely new drive system, Porsche introduces other “firsts” with the Taycan, including a designation as the first car to feature a fully integrated, built-in Apple Music streaming service via the car’s touch screen – perfect for road trips on those long winding roads that have become synonymous with the Porsche brand.

“We are opening a new chapter; it’s the most ambitious and technically advanced car we’ve ever created,” says von Platen of Porsche’s entry into the all-electric world. He says that by 2025, over 50 per cent of Porsche vehicles will feature a plug, whether they are fully electric or hybrid cars. The all-electric initiative has marked the brand’s largest investment to date; by 2022, six billion euros will have been designated for the electrification of the Porsche brand, including a new plant designated specifically to the cause.

At the launch event, the company also announced the expansion of its monthly subscription pilot, Porsche Passport, which allows subscribers to access up to 20 Porsche models with just a few taps of an app for a flat monthly fee. The expansion includes the arrival of the service to Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix and – wait for it – Toronto. The service marks a new way to access the luxury market and, not surprisingly, is attracting a younger demographic of customer who is new to the brand.  After all, not everyone can afford the cool $153,510 USD base model price tag that comes with a new Taycan Turbo model.

While the Taycan may be the first all-electric vehicle from Porsche, it certainly won’t be the last from the legendary company. Already, additional all-electric vehicles are in the works, including less powerful and less pricey family-friendly Taycan Cross Turismo SUV, which will hit the market in 2020. Production for all pre-ordered Taycan vehicles officially launched on September 9.

And, while Porsche may be prepared for its foray into the electric car market, the question is whether Canada will be. The brand is currently working with Electrify Canada (and Electrify America south of the border) to increase the number of charging stations throughout the country. Electric vehicles are here to stay, so it’s probably smart to plug into the times like Porsche has.