Stuttgart - Porsche has finally pulled the covers off its first fully electric car, the Taycan, a milestone sedan that will see the Stuttgart sports car maker aiming to beat Tesla at its own game.

In fact it will more than likely beat Tesla to Elon’s home country, with Porsche currently intending to launch the Taycan in South Africa around the third quarter of 2020.

A brave new car demands brave new styling, and the Taycan should have no trouble turning heads out on the street with its low-slung design that stays true to the brand’s heritage.

But is it still a sports car?

The Taycan certainly has the performance credentials. It’s powered by two permanently excited synchronous motors, developed from those used on the Le Mans-winning 919 hybrids. There’s one on each axle, for all-wheel-drive capability, and at launch the Taycan will be offered in two power variants.

In fact, this is where Porsche is likely to attract some mockery in car circles as the two derivatives are badged Turbo and Turbo S. The Turbo produces 500kW and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds, while the Turbo S is good for 560kW on overboost, and does the aforementioned dirty deed in 2.8 seconds. Less powerful versions of the Taycan are due to follow soon.

The Taycan’s lithium-ion battery runs at 800 volts rather than the industry-standard 400 volts, which is said to allow for particularly fast charging when using Porsche’s purpose-developed charger. In fact, the carmaker says it takes just five minutes to build up enough charge for 100km, when using direct current from a high-power charging network.

But how far can you go on a full charge? Porsche claims a driving range of 450km for the Turbo and 412km for the Turbo S, on the WLTP cycle.

The battery uses inverters with an infinitely variable pulse frequency, so the motor always runs at optimum efficiency. And because lithium-ion batteries work best between 20 and 40 degrees celsius, the system uses temperature sensors to monitor the car’s cooling requirements in real time, and directs the cooling water to where it’s most needed. 

Hope you like screens

The Taycan’s cabin, which was inspired by the original 911, is even more striking than the exterior. It includes an optional touchscreen for the front passenger, which forms part of an integrated black-panel glass band that is also home to the 27.6cm central infotainment display. 

You’ll be relying on those touchscreens for most functions, as interior switches and buttons have been kept to a minimum, although you might also turn to the car’s advanced new voice control function, which responds to “Hey Porsche”, as well as the car’s handwriting recognition system.

The raised centre console, which is meant to intensify the low-slung sports car feel, features a large 21.3cm touch panel with haptic feedback, which allows the climate settings to be altered directly. 

Perched in front of the driver is a free-standing, curved digital instrument cluster that allows drivers to choose from four display modes: Classic, Pure, Map and Full Map.

IOL Motoring