It takes a special invitation to make someone want to take three flights and travel almost 15,000kms in 36 hours for just six hours of driving. The new Porsche Taycan 4S launch was one such invitation. The result? I undertook the punish of a trip and found myself transported from smoky Sydney to clear aired Kittila, a small town in Northern Finland, where Porsche host their Winter Driving Experience.
Kittila sees only about 3 hours of daylight in December, which means you’re in constant ‘sunrise sunset’ ambient light, which makes for incredible photography and spectacular scenery. The streets are snow lined and the average temperature is a frigid -5ºc. The expanse of flat, snow-covered land plays host to Porsche customers and media who are regularly invited to test their range of cars.
The Porsche Taycan was released last year as the Mission-E concept. This was Porsche’s step into a more sustainable future of driving. Electric cars are inevitable, so Porsche went all in and spent 10 years and €6 billion (A$9.8 billion) developing their ‘Tesla killer’ for now and for future generations. It seems the brand may have also proven haters wrong by keeping the Taycan’s final design remarkably close to the Mission-E concept.
It’s important to point out the Taycan is not a four door 911 or an electric Panamera; it’s a totally new segment. The brand would never create a four door 911 (who would want one anyway) and the Panamera is amazing but it’s almost limousine size. The Taycan is really a small sedan that comfortably fits four people, but still has those small sports car feels.
The purists will tell you it’s not a real Porsche. The same was said about the Boxter, Cayman, Macan and Cayenne models before, all of which are now even more popular than the iconic 911. The Porsche brand’s DNA is about driving precision, and that’s what the Taycan has delivered in spades. Across design, technology and performance driving this could be one of the most ‘complete’ packages I’ve driven.
The Taycan 4S is the baby brother of sorts of the Turbo and Turbo S. Power output of the Taycan 4S is 320kw (390kw with overboost), whilst the more powerful models released earlier this year deliver 560kw. Performance of the 4S is just shy of 4 seconds (3.8) to 100km/h, whereas the Turbo S is quoted as 2.8, with one Porsche member saying he had done it in 2.6. Typical Porsche, always being modest.
Given the snowy road conditions of the test, it was difficult to experience just how quick the Taycan 4S is off the line, but driving at 120km/h with soft Winter tyres did show the car has a lot more to give. Had it not been for the ominous icy embankments on either side of the road, we would have happily found out.
Range is surprisingly good, like Tesla good. The Taycan 4S maxes out at 463kms (with Performance battery Plus) with a specific range setting in the car to help manage power on longer trips. Where things will get tricky for Australians are ample charge stations. Porsche have struck up a deal with Wilson Parking to install fast chargers, but I feel they’re going to be more useful somewhere in between Sydney and Melbourne or Brisbane and Sydney. The charge connector uses the latest standard which Tesla are sure to adopt soon too. The Taycan also offers AC and DC charging options within the car to maximise your options. When you purchase a Taycan, Porsche will send a technician to your property to assess your garage and provide a recommendation for a charging system.
Like the Porsche Carrera 4S, the Taycan 4S is all wheel drive. This is where the car’s ability in wet and difficult conditions shines. Adaptive traction control has three settings. On, sort of on and completely off (good luck). I’m sure there’s a time and a place for all wheel drive in the city, but it’s here in the snow it does its thing. Given the 4S is the base and most affordable model for now, it will be the car of choice for most.
As mentioned earlier, the purists will miss that Porsche sound but personally I can say I didn’t. There’s just too much car for you to miss it. Porsche Taycan has not gone completely silent; the engine audio emulation can be switched on to help you feel like you still have a combustion engine under the hood. This is also helpful with motion sickness we discovered as it improves passengers’ spacial awareness.
Interior space is no problem, with ample storage in the front and rear thanks to that absence of the rear mounted engine. That means the golf clubs and the large Rimowa luggage I was carting from halfway across the world proved no problem. The size of the rear boot is about 300 litres, and if that’s not enough for you there’s another 80 litres of storage in the front.
The Taycan’s infotainment system could be one of the best we’ve experienced, for two reasons. One: it still feels and looks like a car inside, not a spaceship (i.e Tesla), and two: ergonomically it feels better than the new Porsche 911, which in my opinion is a little off and in which – even with my gorilla arms – it’s a struggle to reach basic controls. In the Taycan, however, everything is touch screen controlled with the exception of the gear stick that’s precariously placed behind the steering wheel. This did cause some confusion trying to quickly select drive or reverse.
Porsche Australia have not yet given any specific dates for these beasts landing on our shores, but they say late 2020 is their best guess with the US market beginning to take delivery of their models now. The Taycan 4S will be priced around A$200,000. Again, this is not exact yet, but was given as a rough guide. Comparing the Taycan to other cars in that price range, it will be very competitive and something to be seriously considered.
The real question is: would I buy Porsche’s first foray into the electric vehicle market? They say never buy a company’s first model of a car but the Taycan feels different. It feels well thought out, considered and something the company is willing to bet their 70 year reputation on. Hand on my heart I can say I would buy one of these; I loved it. Fast, responsive and helluva lot of fun. Even without a combustion engine. The lack of chargers around Australia will be a sticking point for some, but the brand is working on that.
Would I buy a Taycan over a 911? Maybe not at this stage in my life, but if you’re in the market for a C63 or M3 you’re going to have to give the Taycan 4S some serious consideration. Now it’s just up to you how long you’re willing to wait and what colour to get. Mamba Green stands out and the Frozen Blue hue is hard to beat, but realistically it will be black, white and silver colours making up the numbers in Australia.
Regardless of choice, you’re going to turn a few heads, without making a noise. Start configuring your own Taycan here.