“In … 3 … 2 … 1 …”
“In … 3 … 2 … 1 …”
As the voice on the walkie-talkie said “go”, off came my right foot from the brake pedal and onto the throttle, pinning it to the ground. Next thing I knew, I was being launched down the back straight of Sepang in brutally ferocious fashion, my mind only able to offer a selection of vocabulary best left unprinted.
The Future of Performance
I don’t usually see the point in drag races, but this particular demonstration with the Porsche Taycan was, in a manner, enlightening and, to a small degree, disconcerting. It was weird enough to line-up on the starting grid in pin drop silence, but experiencing the sheer effectiveness which Porsche’s electric motors propel all two tonnes plus of man and metal forward at warp speed with no noise and minimal drama was nothing short of astonishing.
And that was with launch control switched off. We were given three runs each in two variants of the Taycan – 4S and Turbo. Only in the last of each run were we allowed to use launch control, not out of concern for our safety, but rather the wellbeing of the instructors seated next to us. Apparently, some of them reportedly threw up after sitting through repeated launch control starts.
To give you an idea on the level of ferocity we are talking about, the Taycan Turbo is faster from 0 to 100km/h than a Bugatti Veyron. Got your attention?
And that’s not all, with the Taycan, Porsche is now trying to tell us that the future of electric motoring will indeed be a very exciting one and that we should hold off our assumptions that cars will become little more than washing machines on wheels; enthusiasts need not despair at the eventual passing of internal combustion. (Excuse me while I wipe out my tears.)
As much as emissions is the most often touted motivation in the electrification of our cars, many other factors at play all but assure us of an electric future. Because, besides spewing out things like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides, the four-stroke engine is an inherently inefficient and mechanically complex means of generating motion.
The act of converting the piston’s reciprocal motion to rotational motion of the wheels and linear motion of the car requires thousands of components working in perfect sync repeatedly thousands of times per minute. Mechanically, an electric vehicle is a much simpler affair – building a motor does not require rocket science – and the technology’s potential has yet to be fully explored. Combustion engines on the hand, well, there’s a glass ceiling limit on just how efficient you can make them.
The electronics of a regular car controls parameters such as fuel injection, valve timing, ignition timing, transmission shift patterns, and how all these respond to the flexing of the driver’s right foot, all for the express purpose of controlling just how much torque is delivered through a path that follows the con-rods, crankshaft, and transmission before finally spinning the wheel. An electric car simplifies this tremendously because the electronics directly control the motor which spins the wheels, and that’s it. And that efficiency of control is highlighted in how effectively the Taycan launches off the line on full throttle – no wheelspin, no hesitation, no drama, just immediate, instantaneous, and unrelenting acceleration. And the car can take these brutal launches more frequently than your own body can withstand the repeat G-force exposure.
Electric vehicles will be much easier to maintain too, no oil seals, head gaskets, timing belts, chains, pulleys, air-flow sensors, and what not to worry about. Your only wear and tear items are chassis-related parts and even then, your brake wear is drastically reduced because much of your slowing down in day-to-day driving is done by the motors anyway; and for the record, Porsche’s calibration of the Taycan’s regen braking is spot on and felt completely natural.
Ditto the handling. The Taycan is Porsche’s maiden effort at building an electric vehicle, and they have been thorough with their homework, developing a dedicated platform from ground up together with an own in-house electrical powertrain architecture. An allroad-style Cross Turismo derivative was also recently released using the very same underpinnings as well, but that’s a separate story.
The battery sits under the floor which, of course, helps lower the Taycan’s CG considerably, to the benefit of its handling. Indeed, the Taycan turns corners in many ways that defy its portly mass. And it’s more than just sheer grip which it musters – there is a certain elegance and fluidity which the car shifts its weight about. Not to mention a nicely weighted and richly communicative steering that serves no shortage of information to build up your confidence as you power through the curves.
In all-wheel drive variants, which is essentially the entire range bar the base model, the Taycan grips and steers around bends with a good balance of poise and security. There is flow in its movements backed by a sense of assurance that traction is available at four corners to safely guide you along your chosen line. The base model, meanwhile, despite sacrificing a bit of power, is a bit more playful at the turn with drive going only to the rear wheels.
So, yes, you don’t get the glorious sound of a large flat-six revving away at the back of your ears, but the Taycan is hardly short of entertainment behind the wheel. Us old-timers have been conditioned to consider the engine as an integral if not THE integral component of a car’s driving experience and by extension, its soul.
"The Taycan Turbo is faster from 0 to 100km/h than a Bugatti Veyron."
"no wheelspin, no hesitation, no drama..."
Read more about the
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Porsche, meanwhile, the old-timer in making sports cars, is telling us that there is much more to a car, even a sports car, than just pistons jerking back and forth doing suck squeeze bang blow. Indeed, it would seem that the engineers at Zuffenhausen have come to terms with an electric future, and they are pulling every stop to preserve the magic of driving going into that future.
"Based on today's evidence, it would seem that electric powertrains is going to be the future of sports cars as well."