Irrationality with a clear conscience

Electric cars are viewed as environmentally friendly and future-oriented. Now, however, e-mobility has also reached the category of sports cars and supercars. Although the Porsche Taycan is one of the more docile examples, it still offers ample electric power. We had the opportunity to drive the stylish four-door Taycan while pondering the sense and nonsense of electric sports cars.

Written by Lukas Rüttimann
Photos by Stefan Jermann

March 17, 2021

Porsche Taycan on a snow-covered road

Porsche? Car enthusiasts associate the brand with hard, direct steering. With iconic design and an impressive heritage. And last but not least: With a delightfully rumbling boxer engine. But times are changing – a fact that Porsche has certainly embraced. As a result, the Taycan – the first all-electric Porsche ­– is poised to conquer the hearts of sports car enthusiasts. But a battery-driven Porsche? Isn’t that like pasta without sauce?

To really form an opinion, the best thing is to actually climb into the driver’s seat. Because there, it quickly becomes apparent that the Taycan is in no way inferior to its conventionally powered siblings. Visually, the elegant four-door sports car looks more like a Panamera, but in terms of handling, the Taycan comes surprisingly close to a 911. And at the latest when you use the launch control to perform a lightning start powered by more than 700 horsepower from the battery, it becomes clear: The Taycan is a great sports car – and a genuine Porsche.

So the Taycan delivers on the brand’s promise and is likely to introduce a new demographic to e-mobility. But the race in the e-segment of sports cars and supercars is only just beginning. In fact, there is currently a veritable trade war of announcements of ever more powerful electric hypercars – just like the one the traditional Italian, German, and English sports car manufacturers used to wage.

Would you care for some examples? The Croatian company Rimac recently engaged Nico Rosberg to test its electric C_Two model with 1900 horsepower. The former Formula One world champion was audibly impressed: “Huge respect to Mate Rimac and his team for creating such a mean machine!”

High performance on all fronts

Italian micro-manufacturer Aspark is also fervently pushing the envelope, promising upwards of 2,000 horsepower for the Owl, which stands just 99 centimeters off the ground. A few weeks ago, a Bulgarian manufacturer announced the Alieno Arcanum hypercar – with over 5,000 hp, powered by 24 electric motors. The top-of-the-line RP5 version of the Arcanum is reported to have an output of 5221 hp (3840 kW) and 8880 Nm of torque, reaching a top speed of around 488 km/h with a power-to-weight ratio of up to 2.64 hp/kg.

And since the Bulgarian is visually strikingly similar to a Lamborghini, it goes without saying that the original does not want to take the back seat either: For some time now, Lamborghini has been working on a hypercar concept called the Terzio Millennio – a high-performance sports car with an all-electric powertrain that works entirely without batteries and instead stores its energy in the car body.

Naratek article about Terzio Millenio

Even in the modern world of e-mobility, there will always be a demand for cars that embody driving thrills, status, luxury, and maybe even a modicum of irrationality

Last but not least, the venerable Italian carmaker Pininfarina has also announced that it will launch an electric hypercar next year: With its carbon-fiber body, the Battista will accelerate to 100 km/h in under two seconds, and its electric motors will deliver in excess of 1900 hp with 2300 Nm of torque.

Porsche Taycan rear view

Winning technology for the first e-Porsche

In comparison, the first all-electric Porsche comes off as almost conservative. Nevertheless, its performance is impressive. The premium version of the Porsche Taycan, the Turbo S, produces an impressive 761 hp of overboost power, while the Turbo generates 680 hp. The Taycan Turbo S accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, while the Taycan Turbo reaches the 100 km/h mark in 3.2 seconds. According to the manufacturer, the Turbo S has a range of 412 kilometers, while the Turbo manages up to 450 kilometers on one charge, each measured in accordance with WLTP standards. Both Taycan models reach a top speed of 260 km/h.

Porsche Taycan on a snow-covered road

And both models have two electric motors – one per axle. Hence the Porsche Taycan has true all-wheel drive. The distribution of power to the two axles is controlled electronically. During normal driving, the Taycan can run either as a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive car. However, when the car needs to dynamically maneuver around bends, the power is redistributed to the rear. The two electric motors allow the distribution of power to the axles to be controlled much more quickly and flexibly than with conventional all-wheel drive systems.

The electric motors used in the Taycan are permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM), meaning that the rotor is driven using permanent magnets. Compared to the more frequently used asynchronous motors, these offer higher efficiency, improved continuous output, and enhanced power density. Porsche has already gained experience with this drive unit. After all, these are the same motors that drive the 919 Hybrid, which impressively demonstrated its capabilities by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

If you really punch down on the pedal, you experience the full power of the Taycan as it accelerates

Porsche Taycan rear view

Sense and nonsense of electric sports cars

How such e-sports cars square up with the idea of sustainability is another question altogether. Because let’s face it: The cars most people associate with e-mobility are the Tesla, BMW i3, Renault Zoe, or Nissan Leaf. All of these have a proven track record, but – with the possible exception of Tesla – they are rather unspectacular electric cars that emit no CO2 whatsoever, at least once they have been produced, and stand for common sense and sustainability. In return for these benefits, consumers are willing to make sacrifices in terms of functionality and driving enjoyment. After all, they want to stand in stark contrast to the highly tuned supercars that embody pure fun and hedonism.

In this world, the Porsche Taycan occupies the middle ground. It is not a hypercar like the horsepower monsters mentioned above, nor does it want to be. Rather, the Taycan is a Porsche that is suitable for everyday use and that combines sustainability and driving excitement in the best possible way. And as such, it makes perfect sense. Because even in the modern and sustainable world of e-mobility, there will always be a need for cars that stand for driving thrills, status, luxury, and maybe even a modicum of irrationality. So in this respect, too, the Taycan is a genuine Porsche – electric drive or not.

Porsche Taycan from behind

I love people, and I love technology. My fascination is awakened when each inspires the other. Then I grasp my analog notepad– and try to capture the whole story. Still analog, because for me, certain things will always remain a handicraft.
Taught to drive by my grandfather at the age of eight. Hurtling down every set of steps on my BMX by the age of ten; racing down every black diamond slope on my snowboard when I was fourteen. I am fascinated by people who have a story, and I want to tell it. My prime focus is on the relationship between human and machine, artificial intelligence, and finding inner peace in a world full of noise.

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