The time had arrived, after so long talking, writing and reading about electric vehicles, to actually live with one for a week. To take it home and treat it as best I could like a regular, everyday car – albeit one that costs Dh600,000 and wears a Porsche badge.
The all-new Taycan is the first car released in the UAE that is both fully electric and a luxury sports saloon. Jaguar has the I-Pace but it’s more in the mould of other EVs as a high-riding SUV style, whereas the Porsche is a pure, low-slung Stuttgart sportster with a very real connection to the company’s sports car heritage.
Living with an EV in our region offers unique challenges, not least the fact many of us live in high-rise apartments without access to home-charging, which creates its own anxiety.
However, I collected the car fully charged and, despite regular commuting to work and the shops, I eked out four days without needing to plug in, which is not too far off what I’d do for a petrol car between fuel stops.
The test car was the mid-spec Turbo above the entry-level 4S and below the flagship Turbo S. According to industry-standard WLTP tests of all three derivatives, this should return 450 kilometres of range. The most frugal is the 4S which gets 463km when fitted with the Performance Battery Plus package, while the high-performance Turbo S gets 412km.
I returned the car with just over 400km completed and no low-range warning light, which meant I was well in the safe zone. But our real-world test of the faster Turbo S through Germany last year returned a range of just over 350km, which included some 260 kilometres per hour top-speed cruising on the Autobahn, so it has the pace to match its claims.
Porsche says that in just over five minutes, the battery can be recharged using direct current (DC) from the high-power charging network for a range of up to 100km.
Owners can also charge using a regular 11kW AC charger at home, at work on a fast industrial charger or at any public charging point while running errands.
In the UAE, charging for privately owned cars at Level 2 charging units, such as those located in shopping malls, is free until the end of 2021. If it's a car used for business, the rate is 29 fils per kilowatt hour. Given the 93.4kWh battery fitted to the test vehicle, that equates to Dh27.
The Turbo uses an electric motor mounted inside each axle, effectively making it all-wheel drive in addition to a two-speed transmission, which is only available on Porsche EVs. It shifts into a more economical highway gear at 120kph for greater range and drops back down at 80kph to improve low-speed performance.
The feeling is like changing from fourth to fifth on the motorway, or from third back to second as you dive into a corner.
A 'garage' at your foot
One of the breakthroughs in EV design used in the Taycan is what the company calls “foot garages”, which are recesses in the rear floor for extra legroom. Initially this sounds minor, but the bigger picture is that it has allowed Porsche’s designers to give the Taycan a lower profile similar to that of a regular sports coupe rather than a four-door saloon.
The battery is still in the floor, but by dividing it into smaller compartments, engineers were able to move the cells around to maximise rear legroom and lower the roofline.
The cockpit features new architecture including a free-standing instrument cluster first seen in the 918 Spyder, but has been complemented with the latest curved instrument cluster.
A central, 10.9-inch infotainment display and an optional passenger display are combined to form an integrated glass band. Conventional switches and buttons have disappeared and replaced with a touchscreen operation using haptic feedback via pulses through the fingers.
Wide haunches over the rear wheels, raised front guards that bookend a sloping bonnet and a full-width rear tail light are just a few of the design cues that have been carried over from the Porsche family into the new Taycan.
Getting to 100kph takes a mere 3.2 seconds, which makes this one of the fastest cars to wear a Porsche badge, while the Turbo S covers the distance in just 2.8 seconds, giving it the mantle of the fastest car in the company’s range, but it does so with zero fuss, silence and has room for four adults with mountains of storage space front and rear.
On handing it back after living with an EV on familiar home territory for a few days, my thoughts were the same as my first brief taste in Germany last year. Yes, not only could I live with an EV as an everyday car, but the Taycan has also made electric transport an aspiration, something I never thought I’d admit to as a confessed car purist.