Porsche Taycan: 2021 updates include more tech, more speed

Published: 19 August 2020

► Porsche’s Taycan EV range grows
► Cheaper new 2wd Taycan on the way

► Will join 4S, Turbo, Turbo S 

The Porsche Taycan is getting a raft of upgrades for in its second year of sale – and some of them feel much overdue. This morning, Stuttgart has revealed the 2021 Taycan will get an increase in customisation options – and more tech.  

More choice

Porsche’s first EV is now available in seven further exterior colours, including Frozenberry Metallic and Ice Grey Metallic – and the interior is now available in Blackberry and two-tone options, along with more bespoke Exclusive Manufaktur options.

More tech

The improved tech will get prospective buyers the most excite; battery optimization means the Taycan Turbo S can now hit 124mph in just 9.6 seconds – 0.2 seconds faster than before 

The 2021 Taycan will be able to intelligently throttle down recharging when owners plan to take an extended break from driving. By reducing the rate from 270kW for example, to 200kW, battery temperatures and overall battery service life can be increased.  

New Intelligent charging functions also place Porsche’s EV firmly at the centre of a home charging network. Porsche says the Taycan can now be charged via a home’s solar array, and can even be used as a power guard to prevent overloading of domestic connection.

Finally, plug and charge might be useful feature for Taycan owners. Although only available at Ionity charging stations, the new feature enables owners to simple plug and charge; payment is done automatically with the car acting as authentication. It’s available in Europe now, and in the UK Ionity stations next year.

The 2021 Taycan will be available with a HUD – arguably essential when you consider the acceleration the Porsche is capable of. Smartlift, a geography-dependant suspension lift is also available, so the Taycan will automatically raise the chassis clear of speedbumps and driveway gravel.  

Functions on Demand

Speed dependent power steering and adaptive cruise incredibly have their debut on the new Taycan, but more interesting is the way Porsche will let you pay. Stuttgart has revealed a new Function on Demand service, which lets customers pay monthly – or in a one-off payment. 

The move, which was tried and withdrawn by BMW for Apple CarPlay will see Porsche build every car with the necessary hardware but require payment to unlock features. By standardizing every car to a greater degree, manufacturing costs should fall. 

With that in mind, adaptive cruise will cost £18-a-month, or a £759 in a single payment. Power Steering Plus will cost £299, with no monthly option.

Here's our full Porsche Taycan review

Porsche Taycan: what you need to know

The Taycan was unveiled at three co-ordinated events across the globe in Toronto, Berlin and Fuzhou in 2019. It premiered with range-topping Turbo models, and Porsche is gradually adding more affordable models below.

The 4S added a smaller-capacity battery, less power and a slightly smaller price tag than the toppy Turbo and Turbo S versions; the Taycan 4S costs just under £84k in the UK, excluding any grants.

Porsche Taycan at the Frankfurt motor show 2019 - rear side view on blue plinth

The Taycan is big news for Porsche. Chairman Oliver Blume wasn't over-cooking it when he said at the launch: ‘This day is the start of a new era. The Taycan links our heritage to the future.'

The Mission E concept car of 2015 set the tone for the Taycan, and the production car retains its spirit remarkably faithfully. This is definitely A Good Thing. 

From Mission E to production Taycan: the design story

The Porsche Taycan is a touch shorter than a Panamera and keeps that familiar Coke bottle shape seen on the 911. Dimensions are:

  • Length  4963mm
  • Width  1966mm (2144mm with mirrors)
  • Height  1381mm
  • Wheelbase  2900mm

Compact headlights with quad-LED day-running lights are inset into the bulbous wheelarches at the front and the now-traditional lightbar at the rear. That’s the simple stuff, but the devil’s in the details.

There are active air vents with brake cooling in the front directing airflow where required, full underside protection, a flush rear spoiler and circuitry-like detailing behind the panel housing the ‘Porsche’ logo at the rear. 

Porsche claims the Taycan has the lowest drag co-efficient of any of its cars, rated between 0.22 and 0.25Cd, depending on the model. The brand has even kept the option of white-rimmed alloys like the original Mission E concept car (see Storm Trooper spec Turbo S below).

Porsche Taycan at the Frankfurt motor show 2019 - front view with man photographing wheel

So how did Porsche get from Mission E concept car to full production Taycan? Porsche's chief designer, Michael Mauer, told CAR: 'If you would like to have an EV sports car which is defined by its proportions - with the battery pack in the floor and having people sit on top of it - I think you could say is a challenge or a headache.

'That was maybe one of the big challenges to stick to, and I think it's one of the biggest achievements to stick with the proportions.'

Taycan performance figures

There's a motor on each axle on the Turbo and 4S models, a single-speed transmission on the front and a two-speed transmission at the rear for all-wheel drive. That two-speed transmission has a shorter gear designed for maximum power on launch starts and a longer gear for more regular driving. 

The new EV has been confirmed in three specifications so far: 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. Two battery capacities - 79.2kWh and 93.4kWh (or Performance Battery and Performance Battery Plus, in Porsche speak) are available. The 4S has the former as standard and can be upgraded, while the Turbo and Turbo S have the latter as standard.

Go for the 4S and a four-second 0-62mph sprint is achievable, as is a 155mph top speed. Not bad for a porky kind Porsche: the Turbo weighs in at a chunky 2305kg.

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Both Turbo and Turbo S Taycans have 616bhp, with an overboost function for launch control resulting in 671bhp with 627lb ft, or 751bhp with 774lb ft respectively. This means 0-62mph in 3.2sec or 2.8sec, with both models hitting a 161mph top speed.

One of the main points Porsche wants to ram home is the repeatability of its launch control function – the car has been engineered to handle several hard launches without the risk of damaging the battery or other componentry.

Check out some of the clips on Youtube to see what this means; where other EVs' performance falls away after several hard starts, the Taycan just keeps on going.

We suspect that’s a dig at Tesla’s process of having to warm up the car first then warn the driver that launching it may affect future performance.

The Taycan has five drive modes: Range, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. As expected, Range puts every conceivable part of the car that might consume e-power in its most energy-saving setting and remains in two-wheel drive unless required. In Sport and Sport Plus, launch control can be activated.

Wait... Turbo and Turbo S badges? On an electric car?

Yes, yes - we know... There are no actual turbos; it's an electric car, after all. That's the bit the internet seems to have latched onto, but Porsche has its reasons. 

Not only does the brand not want to let go of its heritage, it also alludes to Stuttgart's plans to introduce cheaper and less powerful models. Blume told us 'people connect 'Turbo' with Porsche and, from the engineering side, there's nothing to do with a turbo, that’s clear. But we use Turbo more as a very special name that our customers combine with our products. If you pick a Turbo S you know it’s the top of the range model, Turbo is a little below and then we use Porsche code for the rest.

'We will have, in the next months, smaller battery and cheaper versions. We have a range between 400-450km (250-280 miles) – this range we will target.'

How far will each car go on one charge?

Porsche says the Turbo will do 280 miles on the WLTP cycle, while the more powerful Turbo S will need a charge after 256 miles. The 4S, meanwhile, claims a 252-mile or 287-mile range, depending on which battery you pick.

It's too early to call the range of the proposed 2wd Taycan, but with lighter weight and the smaller battery pack for a lower price, it will likely be a similar distance to its siblings.

What does a Taycan sound like? 

Interestingly, Porsche has added something called Electric Sport Sound. EVs are meant to make some sort of noise at low speeds to meet safety laws around the world, but Porsche has played with the idea and introduced a noise as part of the Taycan package, standard on Turbo S.

Dr Manfred Harrer, Porsche's VP for chassis development, told us: 'It's hard to describe but it's not a combustion engine sound. You'll hear noise coming from the electric drivetrain – it’s not designed to just make that louder, but it’s similar to the original noise.' Expect a spaceship-like whoosh, then.

As for other performance car kit, we know a few details about what will be standard on the Turbo and Turbo S. The former will feature 20-inch wheels with Porsche’s Surface Coated Brakes (discs are coated in silicon carbide) first introduced in the third-gen Cayenne nestled beneath them, air springs, 4D chassis control, torque vectoring and the brand’s stability management programs. Go for the punchier Turbo S and ceramic brakes are standard, as are larger 21-inch rims, rear-wheel steering and a leather-free interior.

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How do you charge the new Porsche Taycan?

Porsche says its new EV is the first to use an 800v architecture for its power system, with most others using a 400v system. Stuttgart says this allows the Taycan to gain an extra 62 miles of charge in just five minutes on the most powerful chargers (if you can find one...). 

From 5% to 80% charge can be done in as little as 23 minutes on emerging 800v DC fast chargers. When you buy one, you get three years of access to IONITY chargers and the Porsche Charging Service, which allows for access to charge points from various operators. In Europe, the Taycan will come with Type 2 and CCS sockets for AC and DC charging respectively, with the Taycan able to handle up to 270kW of 800v DC charging, 150kW of 400v DC charging or 11kW of 240v AC home charging.

Porsche also has a ‘charging planner’ that reduces the effects of cold temperatures affecting the speed of charging, by pre-conditioning the batteries to an optimal temperature. 

Under the skin of the Taycan EV

This car uses the new J1 platform that it will share with Audi’s e-Tron GT car, which is also going to make the jump from concept car catwalk to production. It’s not the last time we’ll see the two brands work together; after these two sports saloons, we’ll get the PPE platform.

‘Porsche is working with its VW stablemate on a separate platform called the Premium Performance Electric or PPE,’ said Stefan Weckbach, head of BEV at Porsche. ‘E-mobility is a Herculean task, and that’s also true in monetary terms. Group-wide cooperation is therefore a huge plus for us. 

‘We’re working very closely with our counterparts, in particular at Audi, on the use of joint modules for the e-vehicles we are currently planning. The brands are also working on the joint development of a platform for new BEV [battery electric vehicle] projects in the future.’

We should expect three SUV or saloon models from that architecture in the future, enabled by the economies of scale sparked by working with sister brands. By teaming up, Audi and Porsche are jointly saving 30% in R&D costs, Weckbach added. 

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Inside the interior of the Porsche Taycan

Like the new 992-generation 911’s interior, the Taycan’s is a clean, uncluttered space that artfully marries tech and tranquillity. ‘The cabin design, with its strong horizontal elements, accentuates the width of the car, just like the 992, while the driver’s view is dominated by the stunning, hood-less 16.8-inch driver display,’ says Taycan director Robert Meier.

Perhaps sensing the need to soften the electric pill with plenty of comforting, nostalgic sugar, there’s a deliberate timelessness to the Taycan’s interior, despite the cutting-edge tech. If you like the inside of the new 911 – and let’s face it, most of us do – you’ll love this. 

At the same time the driving position is endearingly sporty for a zero-emission EV. ‘We have a similar driving position to the 911’s, though a little higher because of the battery underneath,’ explains director of platform Bernd Propfe.

There may not be a flat-six to fire up, but slide behind the Taycan’s steering wheel and you feel ready for every ounce of its performance and grip – however outlandish they might be…

Not all that long ago, the Panamera’s centre console was a mess of buttons. The new PanAm did away with that, and inspired the new 911’s similarly uncluttered cockpit and trick driver’s display, which flank an old-school analogue rev counter with floating glass displays.

The Taycan takes that floating glass concept to the next level: the whole instrument panel is a single floating glass display with touch control. There’s no frame and the glass doesn’t hide under a traditional instrument hood, either, with Porsche claiming its new screen technology means display visibility isn’t compromised by bright or direct sunlight. As part of this purging of interior clutter, Porsche’s stubby drive selector – which sits where you’d expect to find the gearlever in the 911 – is up next to the steering wheel, and an easy reach for your right hand. There's also a power button instead of the usual ignition or start/stop button – because this is an electrical device. 

The Range Rover Velar introduced Touch Pro Duo, with all climate and ventilation functions controlled via a second, lower touchscreen. Taycan does the same, while also adding a touch pad with which you can interact the main infotainment screen more comfortably, without having to lean forward and prod at the dashboard.

Tick the box and your Taycan boasts a second infotainment touchscreen on the passenger side. Now your buddy can become co-pilot, inputting new nav commands or checking out upcoming charger locations without corrupting your infotainment display. Or they can just watch The Killing again. You can’t watch movies on the motorway when you’re in the car on your own: if the passenger seat’s empty, the passenger screen is rendered inactive. Probably for the best.

They did say it was a four-seater…

The 911 has rear seats but Porsche’s rear-engined icon isn’t a four-seater by any stretch of the imagination. The Taycan is (Porsche calls it a four-door, five-seat C-segment saloon), not least because the electric saloon’s a bigger car. While Porsche is at pains to point out the 911 inspiration in the electric car’s ergonomics and silhouette, the Taycan’s closer to the Panamera on size: 4963mm long (with a 2900mm wheelbase), 1966mm wide and just 1378mm high.

Rear-seat passengers get decent headroom, despite the coupe-like roofline, while spaces in the underfloor battery for the footwells give a comfortable seating position while maintaining battery volume and capacity. There are also two luggage areas – one at the front with 81 litres and 366 litres at the rear.

Want to buy one? Demand is high

It’s just as well Porsche is on course to deliver the car at the start of 2020, because demand is high. Chairman Blume said at the launch of the Cayenne Coupe that 20,000 prospective owners had placed deposits of €2500 each to secure their place in the queue. 'That's incredible since they have neither seen it nor driven it,' he told us. 'Deposits are refundable if customers decide to pull out.'

However, since the car made its official debut, Taycan deposits are up to around 30,000 according to Porsche's Deputy Chairman, Lutz Meschke.

It seems that the new Porsche Taycan will be in hot demand and Blume admitted that the company had underestimated the level of interest in the EV. He said they had originally conceived a 20,000-annual volume, but that they were revisiting these figures now.

Where is Porsche going to build its electric car?

The new Taycan will be built in Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant, alongside the 911 – but with space and time at a premium, the extra facilities needed for the Taycan are being built around the existing, working factory. More than 1200 jobs will be created by the new car. 

According to a German newspaper, Porsche has doubled its production targets for the new EV, so around 40,000 Taycans should be leaving the factory each year. That should give Stuttgart ample return on its recent €700 million (£607m) investment on the site.

How much will a Taycan cost me?

UK pricing of the Taycan is as follows:

  • Porsche Taycan 4S  £83,367
  • Porsche Taycan Turbo  £115,858 
  • Porsche Taycan Turbo S  £138,826 

Prices are before any government grants or options come into play - not that those will represent a large discount on such high figures. First deliveries started in spring 2020.

Further electric car reading:

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By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches