The new 2024 Porsche Taycan will be revealed in the next few days, touting dramatic increases in range, efficiency, charging speed and performance.
The German firm’s first electric car has been substantially refreshed for its fourth year on sale, following hot on the heels of its new sibling, the electric Macan, which was revealed last week.
The new Taycan has been testing publicly with minimal disguise for months, and Porsche has given a few early details away already. But having now driven a near-production-ready prototype across California and spoken to the chief engineers behind the upgrades, we can testify to the extent of the improvements.
Even with some camouflage still in place, it's clear that the Taycan hasn't been extensively redesigned; there are flatter LED headlight clusters, new creases in the front wings and subtle new details to mark out different variants, but the headlines of this 'facelift' are to be found under the skin. Already one of the fastest, longest-range and quickest-charging EVs on sale, the Taycan has been improved, Porsche says, in “practically every discipline compared to its predecessor”.
On our run from Los Angeles to San Diego and back, we recorded a cruising range of 318 miles from the dual-motor Taycan Cross Turismo estate at an average efficiency of 3.1mpkWh, suggesting the battery now has a usable capacity north of 100kWh, compared with the 93.4kWh of today's top-rung Performance Battery Plus.
Whether that has been achieved with the use of new chemistries or a more simple enlargement of the pack itself remains to be seen, but the former is likelier, considering there have been no changes to the wheelbase or ride height.
In the same conditions, a prototype of the single-motor (and lower-slung) Taycan saloon achieved 3.6mpkWh for a range of 364 miles - a huge increase on the 301-mile maximum currently quoted for that car (and that’s official, not real-world). Plus, an ambient temperature of just 15-16deg C at time of test suggests there's room to substantially improve upon that maximum in warmer climes.
Even more significant are upgrades to the charging architecture, which appear to have yielded a huge increase in maximum charging speed. Using an Electrify America fast charger, the new Taycan prototype took on electricity at speeds of up to 332kW - up from today's maximum of 270kW. Autocar's test car needed just 14 minutes to charge from 6% capacity to 80% and was taking on energy at around the 300kW mark for roughly five of those minutes.
Porsche is yet to confirm the official maximum charge speed, but those figures will make it easily the fastest-charging EV on sale in the UK, claiming a significant edge over the latest electric Kia, Hyundai and Audi EVs, which currently max out at 270kWh.
Both the Gridserve and Ionity networks operate 350kW-capable chargers across the UK, where new Taycan owners will be able to take advantage of this boost in charging speed.
The uncovered interior in our test car also gave an early look at revisions to the Taycan's infotainment offering, headlined by the introduction of a completely new Apple CarPlay interface – developed in partnership with the iPhone maker itself - which allows users to adjust the car's settings without exiting the mirroring display.
Precise details of its functionality remain to be given, but Apple has already confirmed plans to help each car maker develop their own CarPlay interfaces, giving quicker and more direct access to the likes of the radio and climate control - and negating the amount of time needed to make small adjustments on the move.
In the Taycan, the newly designed CarPlay platform can be spread across all three screens – gauge cluster, central touchscreen and the passenger-side display – and we were able to use it to activate preconfigured climate settings, load up a range of new streaming services on the passenger screen, change the ambient lighting and even check the air quality index outside.
Porsche remains tight-lipped on the nature of any developments to the powertrain itself, but Taycan model line director Kevin Giek has already hinted at a power boost alongside the improvements in range and charging in proclaiming the updated car to go “faster, higher, further” in every key respect.
The Taycan line-up currently ranges from the 402bhp RWD car up to the 751bhp 4WD Turbo S (those figures pertaining to max-power Overboost mode), and it stands to reason any increase in potency will be in line with those for the charging and range. Pushed to make a call based on our time in the seat, we would wager that Porsche has trimmed precious tenths from the 0-62mph time, but we will have to wait to find out exactly how many.
Interestingly, no mention was made of the ludicrous-looking, track-focused Taycan that claimed the production EV lap record at the Nurbürgring a few weeks ago - and bosses wouldn’t be drawn when we pushed for some early details. Is it called the Turbo GT? Does it really have three motors? Will it have more than 1000bhp?!
“That’s up to you…” Giek told us, his lips pursed but pointedly not batting back any of our suggestions.
Giek rode shotgun for our run from LA to San Diego and back - the culmination of a multi-million-mile, two-year, worldwide development programme that's more comparable to that of a new model than your standard facelift.
His stony refusal to let loose on specifications, technical upgrades and upcoming variants was a recurring theme during our time together, but his description of how Porsche approached the improvement programme for what is already a hugely competitive and successful EV was telling.
"When we started, we had a brainstorm. All the colleagues were sitting around the table, and we said what we want to improve, what we want to do. It was like Christmas: everybody put their wishes and ideas on the table and then we made the validation. Is it feasible? What does it mean for range? For the weight? What does it bring for the customers? Which advantage can we bring to our customers?
"And at the end we think: 'Is it useful? And how much does it cost?' And we're fighting about this ratio and deciding what to do. That's an intensive process. It takes a few months."
There was no single prevailing priority for this facelift, Giek explained, but rather an overarching aim to cement and bolster the Taycan’s appeal by leveraging technology and learnings from four years of production.
“After 60 years, we always find improvements for our icon: the 911. Every day we find another improvement, and like this we're developing all our cars,” he said.
“Technology is going forward, you get new materials... The development is so fast that even one year after introducing a car, you could have a new idea and say: 'We should have done this as well.'”
It's no small boon, then, that there are around 150,000 Taycan owners globally, with wildly different vehicle requirements and usage patterns, from whom Porsche can gather feedback and suggestions.
"We have customers who have driven more than 300,000km already in their Taycans," Giek explains, referencing one particularly helpful owner in France who uses his car as a private hire vehicle.
Giek himself has covered around 100,000km in prototypes during this development cycle - and he's just one of many test drivers who have literally gone to the edges of the Earth in pursuit of the extreme conditions needed to verify the improvements that have been made.
"We've been in Death Valley this year and Arizona the year before. It got up to 52deg C. I prefer doing the cold-weather testing!"
As well as validating the technical modifications during this extensive test programme, Porsche engineers refined a raft of new features, including standard-fit electric charging flaps, a sensor-operated frunk release and a function that automatically raises the car when the door is opened to improve ease of access.
To compensate for the extra heft that these new systems bring, Porsche has removed some weight from the chassis and battery pack - but it's holding back on specifics until the car's unveiling.
So too has the company yet to confirm whether there will still be a smaller battery option and the same range of single- and dual-motor powertrains, but it promises more details imminently.