not give two hoots about Nürburgring lap times, and there’s a large part of me that agrees with you. But just occasionally they do serve as quite a good reminder of how far certain kinds of car have come over a relatively short period of time.
When in 2010 the well-known Nürburgring expert Horst von Saurma stepped from the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670 Super Veloce having just lapped the track in 7 minutes 42 seconds, he would have had good cause to feel pleased with himself, for it was quicker than he’d gone in either a Porsche 911 GT2 or a Pagani Zonda S. And I imagine that if you told him that, before the end of the decade that time would be equalled by a 2.25 tonne, four-door saloon powered by electricity, he’d have laughed in your face.
But now I’ve driven it, the fact the Porsche Taycan
can lap as fast as purpose-built mid-engined supercar powered by a vast V12 engine doesn’t surprise me at all.
It’s not the fact that, with over 700bhp for short durations, the Taycan is more powerful than said Lambo, though it is. In power to weight terms the Porsche would be nowhere. No, part of the secret is the way that power is delivered, with torque of an entirely different order and the very instant the throttle is depressed, even from rest. One problem makers of very fast electric cars are going to have to face is that maximum acceleration at low speed is actually quite an uncomfortable, disconcerting experience.
But simply being ridiculously quick in a straight line (think 2.8 seconds to 60mph for the range-topping car, likely to be called the Turbo S) was never a guarantee of a decent lap time, least of all around a track as tortuous as the ‘Ring. What is far more impressive when you drive the Taycan is the way that power is controlled.
For all its considerable mass and the fact it has very unracy sounding air sprung suspension, Porsche has done an incredible job providing the Taycan not just with oodles of grip, but also an iron grip over its body movements. Key to this was exploiting one of few dynamic advantages brought by cars that are purpose built for electric applications. Because you can distribute the car’s single greatest source of weight – its battery packs – along the bottom of the car like a skateboard, the result is a car with a lower centre of gravity than any other Porsche on sale, even a GT3 RS.
Driving the Taycan is an initially bewildering experience, because you can’t just apply the usual rules. It’s heavy and has air springs, so it won’t handle. Yet it does handle, very well, though I’d stop short of calling it a sports car
. It’s still a car that responds better to being guided than hurled. It’s a four door saloon that rides absurdly well, so it won’t steer properly, will it? Wrong again. The weighty, accurate and linear steering
has far more in common with that of a 911 than a Panamera or Cayenne. To understand the car, a lot of mental reprogramming is required.
But once you’ve done that, sat back and let it all sink in, what is abundantly clear is that there has never been a production electric car as capable as this, nor one as enjoyable to drive. It is extremely expensive – the range is likely to top out at around £135,000 for a Turbo S – and while our electrical infrastructure lags so pathetically far behind that of the cars that seek to use it, of niche interest it will remain. But that’s not Porsche’s fault. And over the next couple of years the 350kW chargers that will add 62 miles of range every four minutes will roll out across the country.
The Taycan is already the best electric car we have seen to date, in time it might also prove to be one of the most significant Porsches too.