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Thrill Rides

EXHILARATING. Addictive. Intoxicating. Mind-warping.

No, this is not a drug but, be assured, this high’s intensity is equivalent. This is a new Porsche.

No, this is not the new 911 flagship, the mighty Turbo S. This is the all-electric Taycan.

A Porsche can often be thought of as a mini personal amusement park for adults, so think of the Taycan as the latest thrilling high-flying rollercoaster. Buckle in and enjoy the ride. Get ready for some incredible G-forces.

Porsche Centre North Toronto recently invited Provinz to experience this mechanical marvel.

Packing dual electric motors, one on each axle, the Taycan 4S puts out 563 horsepower but, more importantly, 479 pound-feet of torque that is available at zero RPM. Many Porsche models are blisteringly fast but only one has hundreds of pound-feet of torque at standstill. The Taycan. And to experience this sensation is how we found our superlatives for the top of this review. Our tester had the Performance Battery Plus option, the base motors have 522 horses.

We spent a day blasting around the back roads of Markham — pure intoxicating fun! The Taycan gets up to speed so quickly and effortlessly, after every stoplight and stop sign we found it was impossible to start off slowly or casually. We craved the rush, the adrenaline pump. Addictive. A small jab at the accelerator is all it takes to catapult the Taycan forward and leave everything else in the rear view. The steering is crisp and accurate. The small-diameter, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel feels positively perfect in the enthusiast’s hands. Cornering transitions happen with total ease due to the lowest centre of gravity of any Porsche, as the heft of the battery is positioned low in the middle of the floor. On- and off-ramps are invitations to explore the limit. The typical strong Porsche brakes scrub off speed with confidence and control.

Many club members option their vehicles with the Porsche Sports Exhaust system and say it’s their favourite feature. Not to leave this behind, Porsche engineered the Porsche Electric Sport Sound into the Taycan, it can be turned on or off.

To enhance the Taycan’s capabilities, our test car was equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes and rear-axle steering.

The Taycan’s outstanding performance belies its size and weight, as behind the wheel it is so easy to forget you are driving a four-door sedan. After parking and exiting the vehicle, looking back, the car’s size is a wonder considering its phenomenal sporting capabilities. One could be fooled they are driving a 911. Size-wise, the Taycan slots in just below the Panamera.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S

BASE PRICE: $119,400 — AS TESTED: $168,980

TYPE: front- and rear- motor, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door sedan

MOTOR: two permanent-magnet synchronous AC; combined output, 522 or 563 horsepower, 472 or 479 pound-feet of torque, 79.2-KWH or 93.4-KWH lithium-ion battery pack

TRANSMISSION: one-speed direct drive (front), two-speed automatic (rear)

Sound has always played a key role in the emotive feel of driving a Porsche. Many club members option their vehicles with the Porsche Sports Exhaust system and say it’s their favourite feature. Not to leave this behind, Porsche engineered the Porsche Electric Sport Sound into the Taycan, it can be turned on or off. We spent much of the time with it turned on, sounding like a high-tech machine out of a futuristic sci-fi movie more than an internal-combustion car as we know it. We also turned it off and enjoyed the peacefulness and serenity of quiet.

And while the quietness of an electric car takes some getting used to, this is only at low speed, because once velocity picks up, wind noise and road noise usually overcome engine noise. Although, one could argue not in a Porsche. Certainly a Cayman’s mid-engine makes its presence known always, roaring just a foot behind the driver. And any GT Porsche as well.

Our drive happened on a steamy hot day, 35 degrees, the Taycan’s climate control was set at a comfortable 20 with seat cooling turned on. Despite the heat, and thus the added demand on the car’s battery, and our bit of performance driving, we saw no indicated appreciable loss in range. The declining kilometre count matched the actual kilometres travelled.

Porsche commissioned a third party to test range, an independent organization called AMCI, and it came back with a very respectable number of 467 kilometres for the Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus.

The interior is extremely spacious, in part thanks to the fixed panoramic sunroof that allows for more head room, and extra space is carved into the floor for rear-seat passengers due to smart battery packaging. Four regular-sized adults can travel in comfort.

The Taycan 4S starts at $119,400 and, even in this form, comes very well-equipped. Our test car registered in at $168,980 with all the aforementioned performance goodies, plus 21-inch Mission E Design wheels, smooth-finish full leather interior and other styling flourishes, LED Matrix headlights, various driver-assistance systems and more.

Your author drove the Tesla Model S a couple years ago in Washington, DC. The company associate asked that I come to a complete stop at the bottom of a hill. He then instructed, “Floor the accelerator pedal.” (You can’t call it a “gas pedal” in an electric car.) The big Model S exploded up the hill like a rocket ship. And therein is a high-powered electric car’s party trick. Once again, an abundance of torque at zero RPM.

But in a Tesla, the fun quickly diminishes, the performance is not repeatable. Every subsequent blip of acceleration diminishes and gets slower. The brakes get spongy and don’t grab as quick. And this is where the Taycan excels with no loss in performance, a true Porsche backed by the experience of 30,000-plus motorsport wins.

And one thing I’ve never liked about a Tesla is the massive digital screen protruding from the centre of the dash. It’s as if all the design and engineering money was blown on the drivetrain and exterior, so the interior skimps out. After all, any car, it doesn’t have to be electric, can get away with one big screen and little else. It surprises me that mainstream auto journalists don’t call out Tesla on this major design flaw.

With the Taycan, there is a properly designed, high-end and luxurious interior with up to five digital screens that include a stunning one, wide and curved, directly in front of the driver, displaying the traditional circle-gauge layout that a Porsche afficionado has come to expect. A buyer can customize this beautifully detailed interior even further with various quality materials and accents, especially through Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.

One other area where the Taycan excels over Tesla is build quality. Simply do a Google image search for “Tesla fit and finish” and see what comes up. Suffice it to say, Porsche has been building, and refining, cars for over 70 years, Tesla has not.

For a bit of compare and contrast, we next took out a 718 Cayman S, painted in stunning Graphite Blue Metallic and beautifully enhanced by 20-inch Carrera S wheels in Platinum Satin and, inside, the leather package in black and chalk. We headed over to downtown Unionville.

Our biggest takeaway was how similar, not different, the Taycan and Cayman are — regardless of sedan versus coupe, electric versus turbo gas. It’s obvious that the mission for both these cars is the same: driver enjoyment and driver involvement. They both do wear the colourful Porsche crest after all and must live up to it.

The 0-to-100-KPH acceleration times are near identical, the Taycan 4S clocking 4.0 seconds, the 718 Cayman S, with PDK and Sport Chrono, at 4.2 seconds. At 350 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque, the Cayman is down 172 and 163, respectively, from the Taycan, but also has much less weight to motivate, being 1,841 pounds lighter. The fun factor is higher in the Taycan.

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S (pre-owned)

PRICE AS TESTED: $100,170 — Kilometres 20,861

TYPE: mid-motor, rear-wheel-drive, two-passenger, two-door coupe

MOTOR: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-four, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

TRANSMISSION: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode

The Cayman’s turbo flat-four emits a raspy whir, we prefer the robust throaty thrum of a flat-six and are happy it’s now returned to this mid-engine line.

Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) benefits both the Taycan, as standard, and Cayman, as an option and included on our test car, and allows the driver to dial in performance and comfort, or a firmer sport setting. It’s a nice convenience especially when the road gets choppy and unpredictable.

Provinz Editor Dave Walker asked me which Porsche I prefer. He was surprised — and so was I — when I chose the Taycan. To me, the Taycan fully delivers on the authentic Porsche experience, it contains all the ingredients of the secret sauce. The Taycan is a fantastic sports car that also just happens to be electric. And cutting-edge. Wrapped up in a gorgeous style.

Special thanks to Porsche Centre North Toronto and Adriano Bernaudo, marketing manager, for the invitation and opportunity to drive the Taycan 4S and 718 Cayman S. Please contact them today to experience these vehicles yourself. </>

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