Hybrids & Electrics

Porsche Taycan First Drive Proves It’s a Tesla-Killer

For the past few years, Tesla has been the sweetheart of the EV rodeo. Despite all its problems from the runs-in with NHTSA to a class-action lawsuit to founder Elon Musk’s unpredictable behavior, Tesla has managed to prevail—especially in the EV luxury sedan category. But if the quirky automaker doesn’t catch the 2020 Porsche Taycan in its rearview mirror by now, it’s probably too late.

The Taycan is Porsche’s first all-electric vehicle. It’s everything you’d hope for in an electric luxury coupe from the German carmaker. And it’s obvious that it’s prepared to lock horns with both the Tesla Model 3 Performance and the Tesla Model S P100D. This YouTube video from Fully Charged’s Jonny Smith shows why Elon Musk should be very much concerned about the Taycan.

Repeatability

When Porsche began to develop its first EV, the carmaker focused on responding to key issues where Tesla fell short. Tesla had a significant problem being able to launch its cars to high speeds over and over. But the Taycan, as Jonny Smith demonstrates, can reliably do 26 hard launches to 124 mph despite its launch control being slightly slower than Tesla’s Model S. 

The secret behind the Taycan’s repeatability is the two-speed transmission. This is an engineering feat that Porsche achieved but Tesla was unable to pull off for its first-generation Roadster back in 2008. It makes the Taycan is the first production EV with a multi-speed transmission.

The Taycan’s two-speed gearbox on the rear axle gives the car more low-end torque as well as a higher speed at the redline. Having the capability for the Taycan’s second gear to kick in at 60 mph means improved speed ranges all the way up to its top speed of 150 mph. An added bonus is that the car’s range is improved by up to 3% or a potential 315 miles.

Consistent speed

The consistency that the two-speed transmission provides also benefits the Taycan’s acceleration. It can reliably zoom from 0-to-62 mph in just over 3.0 seconds. This shouldn’t surprise anyone that the 3.0-second mark is a reasonable performance metric for Porsche to strive for, especially since the 918 Spyder and some 911 variants are already members of the 3.0-second club.

But it does put the 600-hp Taycan neck-and-neck with the Model 3 Performance and just a hair slower than the Model S. And if that wasn’t enough, Car and Driver has reported that Porsche has recently tweaked the Taycan to go from zero to 60 in under 3.0 seconds, ahead of the car’s formal debut on September 4, 2019.

To up the ante just a bit more, Jonny Smith says that the Taycan supposedly will have an overboost function that will help it churn out more than 700 hp for a brief period of time. Porsche has stayed mum on the details of this function, however.

Filling a gap that Tesla missed

Porsche touts the Taycan as the world’s first electric sports sedan. In this way, the carmaker is signaling to Tesla that neither the Model 3 Performance nor the Model S is defined enough to fit in this category. It appears that Porsche believes marketing the Taycan in this distinct niche will give the Taycan a unique identity that Tesla seems to have not yet carved out for its performance models. To further back up its investment in this car, Porsche has said that the Taycan will be its flagship vehicle.

Not just one version of the Taycan

Just when you think that Porsche has done everything possible to make the Taycan its Tesla slayer, the carmaker pulls another trick from its sleeve. In addition to offering the fastest 800-volt four-door electric car that ever raced the Nurburgring circuit in 7:42, Porsche will sell more affordable, less powerful variants. 

This is a smart strategy for two reasons. For one thing, not all potential buyers are willing or able to shell out upwards of the $158,000 required to drive the original version home. For another, the more buyers worldwide that Porsche can sell these variants to, the more easily the automaker will be able to meet regulatory requirements for the car in a number of countries.

It sure seems that Porsche is planning world domination with the Taycan. So, with all that Porsche has loaded into its arsenal for the Taycan, is it any wonder that Tesla fans are just a tad cranky about its debut?