The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Is a 750-HP Electric Super Sedan

Porsche's first all-electric car can hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. We spoke with the people who created it.

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Porsche

Porsche’s first production electric car is a big deal. Speaking to the engineers who created it, you get the sense that the Taycan isn’t just another model in the automaker’s lineup. It’s a paradigm shift, a clean-sheet engineering project. When Porsche does a clean-sheet project, it tends to end up pretty great—think of the 918, revolutionary upon its debut and still magnificent today.

But the Taycan is intended as a mass-produced electric sedan, a far cry from the hypercar exclusivity of the 918. And an all-electric car presents challenges that Porsche has never had to face before. The automaker invited journalists to its Atlanta headquarters for a deep dive into the production-spec EV. Here’s what we learned.

At launch, Porsche will offer two versions of the Taycan—the Turbo and Turbo S. (Yes, Porsche insists on carrying over this well-established model name on a vehicle that will never be equipped with turbochargers.) The Turbo will carry an MSRP of $153,510 at launch, while the Turbo S will cost $187,610. Both of those numbers are minus destination charge.

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Porsche

Both the Turbo and Turbo S will have two electric motors, one powering each axle. Porsche designed the permanent magnet synchronous machine (PMSM) motors in house—they’re more expensive to develop compared to traditional electric motors, but they're easier to package, and more importantly, easier to cool. That's critical because Porsche wants to provide sustained, repeatable performance with this car.

Both models offer 616 hp in normal driving. Activate Launch Control, and the Taycan Turbo / Turbo S will give you 2.5 seconds of "Overboost," increasing output to 670 hp in the Turbo and 750 hp in the Turbo S. The results are serious: Porsche says the Turbo will do 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, 0-124 mph in 10.6 seconds, and the quarter-mile in 11.1 seconds, while the Turbo S will do 0-60 in 2.6 seconds, 0-124 mph in 9.8 seconds, and a 10.8-second quarter-mile.

Porsche fitted the Taycan’s rear motor with a two-speed gearbox. In Sport or Sport+ modes, the rear drive system starts out in low gear for improved acceleration; in other modes, it stays in high gear all the time. The rear motor also has an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The front motor transmits power through a single-speed gearbox.

Both the Turbo and Turbo S get a 600-amp inverter for the rear motor, but while the Turbo uses a 300-amp inverter for the front motor, the S gets another 600-amp unit. That's the biggest difference between the Turbo and Turbo S, though the S also gets 21-inch wheels, rear-wheel steering and carbon-ceramic brakes, all standard equipment. An engineer told R&T that the larger front inverter only plays a role in off-the-line acceleration—dynamically, the Turbo and Turbo S are essentially the same otherwise.

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The Taycan Turbo.
Porsche

All of these drivetrain components were designed in-house by Porsche, and the motors, inverters, and two-speed gearbox will be built in the company's hometown of Zuffenhausen. While Porsche won't confirm it just yet, we expect the entry-level Taycan will feature a single electric motor powering the rear axle; a later Taycan 4S with twin motors seems likely as well, albeit with lower power output than the Turbo and Turbo S. In "Range" mode, all-wheel drive Taycan models will default to front-wheel drive, a Porsche first, to minimize energy consumption.

Just as important as the motors in an EV are the batteries that power them. The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S get a 93.4-kWh battery pack attached to the steel floorpan of the car. All Taycans will use an 800-volt electrical architecture that Porsche says will allow for very fast charging times.

At launch, Porsche says the Taycan will be able to handle 270 kW of input current, increasing to as much as 500 kW in the future. And Porsche promises a new 800-volt “Turbo” charging system will replenish a Taycan’s battery from 5 percent to 80 percent charge in just under 23 minutes. (After the battery reaches 80 percent, charging speed decreases notably, so Porsche says it's best to just charge to 80 and be on your way.) These 800-volt chargers will eventually be conveniently located at Porsche dealerships and Electrify America charging stations.

While the EPA hasn't rated the Taycan’s driving range just yet, Europe’s WLTP numbers indicate the Taycan Turbo should be able to cover up to 280 miles on a full charge, while in the Turbo S, that figure shrinks to 256 miles. Blame the S model’s larger 21-inch wheels for that discrepancy, and remember that WLTP testing often returns higher range numbers than EPA measurement. Those numbers are considerably smaller than a comparable Tesla: the EPA estimates range of 345 miles for the Tesla Model S Performance, rising to 370 miles for the Long Range.

In total, the Taycan Turbo weighs a manufacturer-claimed 5081 lbs, of which 1389 lbs belongs to the battery pack. The Turbo S is claimed to be 22 lbs lighter. Those are figures that come within striking distance of a Cayenne Turbo, but because the batteries are mounted low in the chassis, the Taycan has the lowest center of gravity of any car Porsche produces. The battery pack is also a structural member of the platform, providing extra torsional stiffness.

The battery pack therefore helps with handling, as do standard three-chamber air springs and adaptive dampers. You can also order your Taycan with optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) 48-volt active anti-roll bars. Rear-wheel steering is an option on the Taycan Turbo, standard on the Turbo S.

Much of the Taycan’s suspension design is similar to that of the Panamera—double wishbones up front, multi-link out back—but many of the components were redesigned for packaging reasons. The electric motors and inverters eat up a whole lot of room at each axle.

Electric propulsion allows for complex tailoring of a car’s handling characteristics. Porsche says the Taycan’s traction control system works ten times more quickly than that of an internal-combustion car. The automaker also says it can adjust what the Taycan’s electric motors are doing in just 2 milliseconds.

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Porsche

I wasn’t able to drive the Taycan prototype presented to journalists in Atlanta. But I did get to ride shotgun as a test driver hauled the car around the course at the Porsche Experience Center Atlanta. It became immediately obvious that engineers programmed this car to be playful. In Sport and Sport+ modes, more power deployed at the rear axle, allowing for on-throttle oversteer. A chassis engineer told R&T that during cold-weather testing, one of Porsche's test drivers was able to hold a Taycan in a steady-state drift around a circle with more than 100 degrees of slip angle. And yes, we absolutely want to try that for ourselves.

The Taycan will be available with a number of different tire options. Standard are 245/45 front, 280/40 rear tires on 20-inch wheels, while the prototype I rode in wore 265/35 and 305/30 Goodyears with the upgraded 21-inch wheels. All-seasons are standard, while low-rolling-resistance summer tires are optional, as are a set of winter tires for the 20-inch wheels.

Being an electric car, the Taycan has regenerative braking. Unlike many EVs, whose aggressive regen logic allows them to be driven essentially one-pedal, the Taycan manages most of its regen from the brake pedal, blending it with the traditional friction brakes. Porsche says this helps give the Taycan a more natural feel and consistent brake-pedal behavior regardless of battery condition. Drivers can call up a small level of accelerator-lift-off regeneration with a button on the steering wheel.

Porsche says 90 percent of braking in normal everyday driving will be handled by regeneration, but you'll note that the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S both have massive friction brakes, too. The standard setup on the Turbo consists of 16.4-inch discs with 10-piston calipers up front, 14.4-inch discs and four-piston calipers out back. Optional on the Turbo and standard on the Turbo S are carbon-ceramic brakes with 16.5-inch discs up front, 16.1-inch units out back.

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Porsche

The Taycan has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any car on sale today—0.22 for the Turbo and 0.25 for the Turbo S. Part of that is thanks to a totally flat underbody, which even has covers for the front and rear axles. Active aero components also help alternatively reduce drag and promote cooling when necessary, while the active spoiler has positions for low drag and high downforce.

Overall, the design of the Taycan is remarkably close to the Mission E concept that Porsche debuted four years ago. It has a similar width-to-height ratio as a 911, and the relatively short front also calls to mind Porsche's iconic sports car.

The interior is also designed to make you think of the 911. That shouldn't come as a surprise: the man who penned it, Thorsten Klein, owns a 1973. You sit quite low in the car, more so than a Panamera, and the un-hooded digital gauge cluster, dramatically sloping front trunklid and prominent front fenders give a very 911-esque view through the windshield. There's a bit of 918 in there, too, with its rising center console with a touchscreen HVAC controller, and a stumpy gear selector just to the right of the steering wheel. Klein designed the interior of 918, so this adds up.

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Porsche

A central infotainment screen recessed into the dash runs Taycan-specific software, while a passenger display is available as an option. Klein told R&T that Porsche went screen-heavy with the interior of the Taycan because the company believes EV customers are looking for more tech. They also wanted to make a definitive point that they're looking toward the future, while nodding to the past in the process. There's even a start button to the left of the steering wheel.

At the end of a long day learning everything you could possibly want to know about the Taycan, I spent a few minutes talking with the chief engineer of the car, Dr. Stefan Weckbach. I asked him, what was the biggest challenge in bringing this car to life?

"The biggest thing and the hardest thing for all of us was the goal of making a true and real Porsche," he said. "Transferring the soul from all our cars into the EV world. And this was the overall target, making sure that we're not going to make just another EV, but we're making a Porsche with a fully electric drivetrain."

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Porsche