First drive review: 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo runs laps around EV performance expectations

Here to read about an electric car? Prepare to be disappointed. 

That’s because the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo, the first all-electric car from the brand, doesn’t have much time to be one. 

The Taycan skips electric-car gamification, there’s no growing green leaves in the instrument cluster or paddle-shifter regen with one-pedal driving. There’s no whiff of bleeding-edge driver-assistance aids; if you’re looking for the Taycan Turbo to take control of your drive, take a hike. 

Electro-mobile, future-leaning autonopod with a Porsche badge? The 2020 Taycan ain’t it. 

The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo goes all-in with performance with any electric-car attitude dusted far behind. It’s locked into outright speed: the Taycan’s chosen weapons are synchronous motors on the front and rear axles that make at least 620 horsepower on up to 750 hp in the Turbo S model. A 93.4-kwh lithium-ion battery may muster around 250 miles when it’s eventually rated by the EPA, if that matters to anyone footing more than $ 150,000 to buy an electric car. What matters more? The architecture the Taycan uses to dump prodigious power down the driveline in brilliant bursts of high-speed acceleration and grip. 

Have you considered that the 2020 Taycan Turbo is the first sedan (the Panamera is a hatchback) made by Porsche too, not just its first all-electric car? 

Me neither. The Taycan has a way of making you forget about the past or the future and focus on the present. 

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

Plug and play

Let’s get this out of the way: The Taycan Turbo has no turbos. Lexicographers may care, but no one else should. 

Porsche could have turned its back on decades of naming convention for the Taycan’s launch but didn’t. That says more about the anticipated first buyers of the Taycan than it does about alternate definitions for the word “turbo.” 

What the Taycan Turbo has are electric motors that spin out 620 hp and more than 700 pound-feet of torque in every circumstance, before overboost systems begin. The “turbo” and “boost” terms here lean on the less-common, Urban Dictionary usage: quick as…Mad Lib your own expletives from there. 

And the Taycan Turbo is quick—sometimes violently so. 

From the front seat, the Taycan Turbo willingly catapults toward the gray horizon of our first turns at the wheel in Denmark. Tick the drive selector knob into Sport or Sport+, mash the brake pedal to the floor, and push the accelerator long enough for a launch control confirmation message and tone to appear on the right side of the curved driver instrument cluster. The Taycan Turbo repeatedly launches past every windmill to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, with 2.5 seconds of overboost that pushes the overall output to 670 hp. The Turbo S turns up output from both motors to tap 750 hp for 2.5 seconds to turn those windmills on their heads. Either car will run a quarter-mile in about 11 seconds (10.8 for the Turbo S, 11.1 for the Turbo) on up to a 161-mph top speed, give or take a few mph. (I hit 165 mph on unrestricted sections of the autobahn.) 

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

The Turbo is quick. The Turbo S is pressed-lungs-into-the-back-of-my-ribs quick. 

The power for both channels down to the pavement in wide tires that measure up to 305 mm in the rear on Turbo S models. (Turbo models get 285-mm wide tires at the rears.) Despite the damp roads, the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires didn’t flinch, and the multi-link rear and double-wishbone front suspension with adaptive dampers all around don’t chatter while they struggle to keep 20- or 21-inch wheels stuck to the ground. 

Repeated launches with an accelerometer displayed on the Turbo S in gray Denmark netted zilch for readouts thanks to our blurred eyes: it’s nearly impossible to focus on a stationary object when nearly 2 Gs dropkick you in the back, over and over again. 

It’s giddy (and potentially injurious) fun that the Taycan Turbo delivers, well beyond the green car tale of the tape. 

With the Taycan Turbo, Porsche prioritized performance well beyond emissions-free or guiltless endeavors. If Porsche found a way to make a car quicker on Fruit Loops, we’d be talking about the world’s first cereal-powered automobile here instead. 

The Taycan Turbo takes aim at the nascent world of electric supercars and posits that something with a low center of gravity should handle better than decades of cars across the same showroom with engines in the wrong places. The Taycan attempts to make its prodigious 2.5-ton weight a strength.

All 5,100 pounds of the Taycan Turbo manifests itself in only two ways: stopping power and center of mass underneath the driver. Despite the low-slung seating position, the feeling that you’re riding atop the bulk of the car’s mass doesn’t go away—the Taycan directionally pivots beneath your feet, not around the driver. Not that I mind much anyway.

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

Same goes for the trashcan lid-sized stoppers in the front; the Turbo S has 16.5-inch rotors with 10-piston caliper brakes. All 2.5 tons piles hard onto the front wheels when summoned, and the weight loads up onto the nose in a controlled but noticeable way without much nosedive. Porsche says it’s tuned the Taycan Turbo to harvest energy completely from nine out of 10 braking events, and it’s nearly impossible to tell when regen brakes give way to the hydraulically controlled friction brakes. The net effect on the soles of my feet is marginally longer pedal travel, even with the Turbo S’s standard carbon-ceramic brake pads, without much bite. (The standard cast iron rotors on the Turbo give just a little more direct pedal feel but not much bite still.)

The Taycan is tightly composed on these narrow European side roads, and at ease with every nudge of the steering wheel from one corner to another.

The Taycan is smaller than pictures would indicate, about 16 feet from nose to tail with 114.1 inches spanning from wheel to wheel. It’s a Panamera profile, shrunken by one-fifth, and feels narrow like a C-segment sedan should on rural Danish roads where tractors frequently appear out of nowhere. The weight down low plants the car into every corner, aided by Porsche’s dynamic chassis controls that keep the car virtually flat in cornering. Rear-wheel steering helps too, the wheelbase is shrunken by rear wheels that can steer up to 2.5 degrees opposite to the front wheels. The Taycan needles quickly around corners without a grocery cart feeling in the back.

Just as nimbly, the Taycan dances when traction control is set to Sport, but beware: the accelerator responds to ballet-level footwork. Drop your feet like it’s a tango and the car will swap ends in a hurry. 

At least a few hours in the car are required before pushing into any serious performance driving: from launch control to infotainment, the Taycan Turbo is sensory overload for literally every sense I can think of—even some I can’t. 

And I can’t think of many pressed into the seats like this. 

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo first drive

Inside edition

I wouldn’t begrudge the seats in normal circumstances anyway. Occupying the top slots on the Porsche luxury pyramid, the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S want for little with starting prices more than $ 150,000 and $ 180,000, respectively. 

Every surface is lashed with grained leathers and soft-touch synthetic suede (a leather-free version is available, but Porsche won’t call it vegan; presumably it cast a shadow once), open-pore wood, and brushed aluminum. 

It’s not hard to find a comfortable seating position in chairs that adjust in up to 30 different directions, provided you can get in and out first. The Taycan Turbo S is just 4.5 feet tall and getting out with long legs requires a propped elbow every time. 

Nominally, the Taycan seats five provided the rear passenger in the middle position is half a human, sliced down the middle like a pickle spear. Four is more appropriate, but even then, stipulations must be taken into account. No one taller than 5-foot-10 will be happy in the rear buckets, and even then, they bear the brunt of a wide tail end that increases the step-in length considerably. 

In practice, the Taycan is best for two adults up front with 1.5 touchscreens each. The driver’s instrument cluster, a 16.8-inch wraparound display, is sharp and clear, and the central 10.9-inch touchscreen vividly displays secondary (or thirdary) navigation information, infotainment, vehicle status, or Apple CarPlay. An 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center console takes the place of climate controls and touchpad for infotainment. It’s the least useful of the cockpit’s available four screens and suffers from an unfortunately placed volume button ahead of the front cupholder that’s an answer in search of a question. 

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo

2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo

The biggest question for many buyers? Opting for the secondary passenger-side touchscreen with navigation, infotainment, or vehicle information. Spring for it if a front passenger will be a common occurrence—it’s best to keep passenger hands away from the driver always, and despite a finicky seat sensor that sometimes doesn’t recognize a slouching front passenger and won’t turn the screen on, it works very well. 

All four screens are overload though, and yes, it’s possible to splay the same three maps, in three places, across more than 30 inches of the dash. A bit much. 

But the Taycan Turbo thrives on excess, even if its powertrain is frugal. It’s a performance four-door that could have been powered by any type of fuel in countless alternate universes. 

It’s electric in this universe, and its efficient powertrain is a distant second compared to the Taycan’s overall performance. 

I’m far from disappointed because of that. You shouldn’t be either.

Porsche provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands to bring you this firsthand report.

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