02 jan 20
Following in the footsteps of fellow German ABB FIA Formula E Championship rivals Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, motorsport masters Porsche join the long list of manufacturers translating their learnings on track into production cars. With the all-electric Taycan being the latest EV from the Formula E stable to hit the roads, we embarked on an 850km road trip across Germany to put it to the test. From Bavaria’s forested mountain passes to the uncapped speeds of the Autobahn, here’s what we made of Porsche’s new all-electric challenger.
2019 was a big year for Germany. Not only did it mark three decades since the Berlin wall came down, but it was also the year one of the country’s automotive powerhouses first rolled out its first all-electric car – the Porsche Taycan. With all that, it seemed a fitting tribute to both occasions that we took the new Taycan Turbo S from Germany’s car making heartland of Munich, all the way to the historic capital of Berlin – a hefty 850km (528miles).
Arriving in Munich on a misty morning, we meet with our Taycan on the outskirts of the city – just a stones throw from one of Porsche’s longest standing motorsport rivals - Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt. With a history in Formula E dating back to the very first race in 2014, Audi’s experience in all-electric racing is well beyond that of Porsche. But after launching its full works racing team in late 2019, the Stuttgart sports car maker is hoping to continue its long stint of motorsport success in the city street racing series.
After breezing past the gates in near silence, the 568kW (750bhp) Taycan Turbo S makes short work of the twisting back roads to the medieval city of Regensburg. Equipped with a 93.4kWh, 800-volt lithium-ion battery, which sends 198kW (262bhp) to the front and 340kW (449bhp) to the rear motor, the Turbo S is the most powerful all-electric Porsche on offer. From standing, the spaceship-like beast will hit 100km/h (60mph) in a staggering 2.8-seconds and on to a top speed of 260km/h (161mph). Just to put those stats into perspective, that's faster to 100km than, er, a lot of red-coloured supercars from Italy that wear horses on the bonnet. Just saying.
Outside Regensburg, we stop off at a new Ionity charging point for a rapid charge, an espresso and, of course, an apple strudel. Well, we are in Germany. Rolled out as a joint venture between BMW, Mercedes' parent company Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche, Ionity set about installing a high-power charging network for electric vehicles along major highways in Europe. At the time we plugged in, over 150 rapid (350kW) charge points had been installed all over Europe. With a range of around 400km (256miles), the Turbo S can comfortably cover most long-distance drives but topping up at a rapid charger is a sure way to make it to our overnight stop in Hof with plenty left in the battery.
After charging up from 20 to 80 per cent in just short of 20minutes, we’re off again, heading north towards Nuremberg. With just short of 200km (124miles) left before our overnight stop, there’s plenty of time to appreciate the Taycan’s meticulously laid-out cabin. Beyond the neat fit and finish of the interior trim, lie a sparse selection of traditional driving controls and more screens than the Millennium Falcon. Even the front passenger is treated to a chest height touchscreen, allowing them to take control of the navigation, search for a charge point or just watch a movie. Your choice - just remember the driver needs to keep their eyes on the other three screens, one of which – luckily - is the curved digital instrument binnacle.
Breaking away from our overnight stop in Hof the following morning, we hit the road for the final day – heading north to the familiar Formula E territory of Berlin. With 505km (314miles) left on the clock, the route takes us around the Ore Mountains of Saxony, on the border of the Czech Republic, over switchback roads and through dense forests. Taking in the age-old surrounds from the cockpit of one of the most forward-thinking cars on the planet is a unique experience. Formed no less than 542 million years ago, the Ore Mountains and surrounding countryside form a spectacular test environment for the Taycan, with sweeping bends and narrow lanes putting the Porsche’s handling through its paces.
Now back on the beaten track, a couple of hours cruising on the Autobahn in near silence take us past Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof Airport – the home of the well-established Berlin E-Prix and future battle arena for Porsche’s first Formula E race on home soil on June 21. With our all-electric adventure coming to a close, there’s time to reflect on the hundreds of kilometres completed behind the wheel of Porsche’s latest arrival.
For a car that’s been on everyone’s lips since it first broke cover in 2015 – then called the Mission E – it’s not done a bad job at living up to the hype. While it looks like something from a science fiction movie and sounds like a spaceship, most importantly, it drives like a Porsche. With its battery mounted low down, the Taycan’s centre of gravity is lower than the marque’s much-loved 911. Perhaps the only bugbear is the 400km (256miles) range, which still won’t be enough for some long-distance motorway mile munchers but will be more than adequate for the vast majority of everyday drivers. With more EVs coming to market by the day and battery-powered cars evolve at a faster rate than their combustion counterparts, the Taycan is one of the most polished and high performing EVs on the market. With Porsche already committed to an electric future and a full factory Formula E squad ready to put the latest technology to the test, the Taycan of tomorrow looks set to be even more of a game-changer than it already is.