Hybrids & Electrics

Did the Porsche Taycan Get Jay Leno’s Seal of Approval?

Despite what you may think, Jay Leno’s love of classics doesn’t mean he dismisses EVs. He’s owned a Tesla for several years and was enthusiastic about the Mustang Mach-E. But not every single electric car gets a positive reception. Leno wasn’t taken by the $1.3-million Drako GTE, for example. But what does Jay Leno think of the Porsche Taycan?

The Porsche Taycan Turbo S’ performance

2020 Porsche Taycan
2020 Porsche Taycan | Porsche

Jay Leno specifically spent some time with the Porsche Taycan Turbo S. This is the top of the lineup, above the standard car and the non-S Turbo. Like the other Taycans, the Turbo S has dual electric motors and a rear-mounted two-speed transmission. The two-speed, Porsche rep Calvin Kim explains, is to give the Porsche Taycan both high-speed efficiency and fast acceleration.

And the Taycan Turbo S is—apologies, Tesla—ludicrously fast. Porsche officially quotes a 0-60 time of 2.6 seconds, but Car and Driver tested one car that hit 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. That’s faster than the Bugatti Veyron, and it’s only 0.2 seconds behind the Porsche 918 Spyder. Kim says the Taycan Turbo S is officially the fastest car Porsche currently makes. Though, with an MSRP of $185k, that’s almost to be expected.

The range problem

It’s also a fast-charging EV. The Taycan actually has two charging ports: one for Level 1 and 2 chargers, and one on the other side for a Level 3 charger. If it’s connected to the latter, the Porsche Taycan can go from 5%-80% in 22 minutes. However, Kim says that Taycan owners may not want to fast-charge like that every single day.

Porsche Taycan charging at Electrify America station
Porsche Taycan charging at Electrify America station | Electrify America via Instagram

As Battery University explains, fast-charging can degrade batteries over time if the lithium-ion cells aren’t properly designed, or the software doesn’t properly modulate the incoming current. Part of the reason why the Porsche is noticeably less efficient than a Tesla is that prioritizing performance and longevity required sacrificing range.

However, as we’ve discussed before, adding more batteries for higher ranges isn’t necessarily the best EV strategy. And Jay Leno didn’t really seem to mind the Porsche Taycan’s range.

What Jay Leno did like about the Porsche Taycan

Above all, Jay Leno liked that the Porsche Taycan felt like an actual Porsche, combining speed with daily luxury. The Turbo S, using launch control, can deliver up to 750 hp through all four wheels. Normally the car puts out 616 hp. Leno was very impressed that not only was the Taycan quick, but that Porsche had solved the problems that plagued early EV two-speed prototypes. Leno, like Top Gear’s Chris Harris, feels the Taycan can actually fit into a normal driving routine.

Leno also liked the car’s design. Leno remarked that looking at the Taycan, he couldn’t necessarily tell it was electric; he just saw a Porsche. Kim claims the non-S Turbo has the lowest drag coefficient of any Porsche ever, although the Turbo S’ larger wheels and tires do increase its Cd slightly. And, in contrast to the Drako GTE, the Taycan has mechanical door handles.

2020 Porsche Taycan interior
2020 Porsche Taycan interior | Matthew Skwarczek

The Porsche Taycan’s interior was also praised. The EV has a faux transmission tunnel housing the batteries, which lets engineers add more rear-passenger legroom. The rear seats also fold flat, for added cargo room.

2020 Porsche Taycan driver display
2020 Porsche Taycan driver display | Matthew Skwarczek

Having sat in a new Taycan at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, I can confirm the leather seats are comfortable and well-bolstered. And, although some have criticized the touchscreens’ feedback, they do add to the car’s futuristic feel.

That being said, Jay Leno did have some issues with the Porsche EV.

What Jay Leno didn’t like about the Taycan

Most issues were fairly minor. For instance, the front trunk is fairly small, although the rear does have enough room for several suitcases. There’s also no spare tire, although Leno acknowledges that few new cars do nowadays. Jay also didn’t seem completely sold on the charging ports’ touch-activated sliding doors.

Jay was a bit surprised over the Taycan’s weight; Car and Driver weighed one at 5,246 pounds.  The car’s design does take some of the brunt out of the mass. The battery pack, for instance, is mounted low, lowering the EV’s center of gravity. The Turbo S also includes air suspension, rear-wheel steering, and active anti-roll bars to aid with handling. The EV’s weight is masked, then, but not entirely. And adding more batteries to increase range would’ve just added to the problem.

But Jay Leno’s biggest complaint about the Porsche Taycan Turbo S is the use of ‘Turbo’. Previously, that was reserved solely for models that actually had turbochargers. Now, almost every Porsche vehicle has a turbocharged engine. To paraphrase Leno, ‘Turbo’ is now a marketing term, not an engineering term.

Overall, though, Jay Leno gives the Porsche Taycan a firm thumbs-up.

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