Can the new Porsche Taycan take on Tesla?

The all-electric Porsche Taycan is possibly the most important car for Porsche and the larger Volkswagen group heading into the premium electric car segment currently dominated by Tesla. Tesla has been a trailblazer, highlighting just how stagnant the automotive industry had become. Their cars now set the standard that all other manufacturers have to meet and the Taycan is the first real challenger to the Tesla Model S.

So, is the Taycan any good? To keep this simple, let's start with the bad.

  1. The Price. Porsche has launched the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S initially, starting at around $150,000 for the Turbo and $185,000 for the Turbo S. These prices are eye-wateringly expensive and that is before you dig into the options list. Tesla undercuts them by a large margin, starting at around $75,000 up to $133,000. Round one to Tesla then.
  2. The Interior. The Taycan's interior looks like a bit of a parts bin special with aspects lifted from both the new 992 Porsche 911 and the larger Panamera. Admittedly, it is all touch screen based with the central console having haptic feedback. Audi do a similar thing in the A8 and although it looks amazing, in use while driving, these screens are less intuitive than simple buttons. A company like Porsche can and should be able to do better.
  3. The Exterior.  Styling is subjective, regardless, I have been rather underwhelmed by the Taycan. Looking like a love child between a 911 and Panamera, it has some bad angles. Porsche has long been criticized for its conservative styling and this car is possibly less imaginative than it could have been. It is slippery though with a drag co-efficient of 0.22. Still, the Tesla Model S is a much more elegant design to my eyes.
  4. The Naming Scheme. Calling two electric cars "Turbo" and "Turbo S" seems rather stupid and slightly deceptive. I understand Porsche is attempting to align the Taycan within their current naming strategy, but it comes off as a little ridiculous. Volkswagen at least has the courage to launch a whole new range of electric cars under the ID nomenclature.

Most of the criticism I have levelled at the Taycan apart from price is superficial. Look a little deeper and there are some very appealing aspects.

  1. It is a sports car. I am not a huge electric car fanboy as I have stated many times. Yes, they have amazing acceleration, are quiet, but to me, rather soulless. Looking at the Taycan development, like all Porsches, it was developed on the race track with the intention of being a sports car first and foremost. The seating position, controls and to a degree, the steering feel is all traditional Porsche. The Taycan has two electric motors, one on each axle. The rear motor is a 2-speed design, which is unique in this segment. This gives the Taycan the ability to be rapid on take-off in first gear and a cruiser with the second gear engaged. Interestingly, the company focused on repeatable performance, rather than the longest range. To this end, the motors in the Taycan use an expensive technique called "hairpin winding" which increased the amount of copper in the motor and contributes to cooler running, something vital to all electric cars.
  2. 800 Volt Charging. The Taycan sits on the PPE platform, also known as the Premium Platform Electric, developed by Porsche and Audi. It uses an 800-volt charging architecture which is again an industry first. This system allows for rapid charging and future proofs the platform.
  3. It has all the familiar options. The car comes with all the usual driving aids from Porsche; PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), rear-axle steering, PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) and my favourite, carbon-ceramic brakes. Anyone stepping out of a 718 Boxster, 911 or Panamera, will feel right at home.
  4. The Porsche Badge. The allure and security of the Porsche brand can't be ignored. The high price I mentioned earlier is not unfamiliar to Porsche owners. Indeed, the Cheyenne and Panamera hybrids are also expensive and market demand has shown customers are willing to pay these prices. The technology in the PPE platform will filter down to Audi and in time into Volkswagen, Skoda and the other brands within the group and become affordable for everyone.

To go back to the question in the title, can the Taycan take on Tesla? Ultimately, if you have the money, your decision will come down to one simple fact. Tesla is a technology company and Porsche is a car company. At their core, they stand for different things. Tesla markets its technology. The autopilot function being the most obvious and/or notorious. A car that can drive itself while you access your social media account on the massive touchscreen. You trust the car to transport you to wherever you are going in ease and comfort. In contrast, Porsche knows how to actually build cars to a high, consistent quality, something Tesla is still struggling with. Nothing on the Taycan is revolutionary in itself. But, there is an attempt on Porsche's part to build a sports car that is enjoyable to drive that just so happens to be electric. That is why I would always go with the Porsche (and also because I am a self-confessed fan).

At the end of the day, both are amazing cars, and aimed at different markets. Make no mistake though, we are now one step closer to the all-electric revolution and as competition increases, these cars will only get better, cheaper and more diverse.

 

Taycan exterior and interior images from www.car.co.uk