The new Porsche Taycan takes on Tesla with electric charisma

If you're the type of person who likes catching your mates off guard then Porsche's latest head turner could be just the ticket to a night (or two) or entertainment. And you don't have to be travelling at warp speed to unleash its best. Potter along at 30 or 40km/h then mash the accelerator and watch their heads smack into the headrest from the near-instant forward thrust. If a water bottle is approaching their lips at the point of said frivolity the results will be amplified. Yes, it really is that brutal.

Up to 560kW and 1050Nm in the flagship Turbo S makes it the most powerful roadgoing Porsche ever unleashed in Australia, comfortably blitzing the 911 GT2 RS (515kW/750Nm) that is the hero of the lineup and one of the fastest cars ever to wear numberplates.

There's also a more affordable Turbo, although affordability is a relative term; the Turbo is expected to cost about $300,000 and the Turbo S around $350,000 when they arrive here late in 2020. Yet the Taycan has no engine, instead utilising electric motors to deliver its ample thrust.

But it's the milliseconds between stabbing the accelerator and that propulsion like it's been hit from behind that defines its very convincing performance story. Chattering of tyres as the stability control contains some inevitable wheelspin to all four wheels is the main indication there are lots of 1s and 0s flying around its computer brains.

The intensity steps up when you engage launch control, a mode that allows the most maniacal of take-offs. It's virtually guaranteed to elicit some tyre slip and amps up the ferocity of that initial hit, the electric motors fed more electrons for 2.5 seconds to step power up from the regular 460kW to a shortlived 560kW in the Turbo S.

What is not immediately apparent from those gut-churning science experiments is the engineering efforts beneath the aluminium skin to ensure the Taycan continues to perform its potent party trick at any speed and with any sort of punishment.

Key to the Taycan's accelerative talents is an 800-volt architecture. Engineers also claim Porsche-specific tweaks to the chemical construction of the LG-sourced batteries, all with the aim of ensuring big power and big smiles. Despite the obvious similarities with Tesla – both use AC induction motors and place batteries along the floor – Porsche has infused the Taycan with its own charisma.

There's a two-speed transmission, for example, that snicks up a ratio to allow the rear motor to better stretch its legs for high speed runs. The smaller front motor does most of the regenerating when driven hard, able to send up to 265kW back to the batteries.

All of which places additional heating stress on the 83.7kWh battery at its core. Whereas its most obvious rival – the Tesla Model S – is prone to overheating with spirited thrashes, Porsche guarantees the Taycan is "track ready" for even the most capable of drivers.

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The harder you drive it the more the Taycan expresses its talent. Brakes slow proceedings with similar force to the straight-line go, yet there's little of the vagueness often inflicting the stoppers on electric cars.

Beautifully linear steering is predictable and responsive.It's helped by a ludicrously low centre of gravity that tames body movement to the point where it remains supremely flat. Few cars leap out of tight bends with the poise and pace of the Taycan.

There's the occasional hiccup.

The centre console is small and the lid clumsily catches the driver's elbow when raised. And the transmission sometimes lets out an inelegant thunk when downshifting to first gear at low speeds. But they're minor gripes for a car that nails its brief of delivering Porsche excitement with electric thrills in what is an enticing blast into the future.

The specs

Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Price: $350,000 (estimated)

Motors: 2 AC synchronous motors

Power/Torque: 560kW/1050Nm

Transmission: 2-speed auto, four-wheel drive

0-100km/h: 2.8 seconds

Electricity use: 26.9kWh/100km

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