It's a Guy Thing

The ICE Breaker

Some want to know about an EV’s range. FHM heads to Finland to test its toughness.

Outside these windows, it’s absolutely freezing. Battery-sucking conditions, apparently, for electric cars. Fortunately the Porsche Taycan I’m currently snuggled in is prepared for such wintery hell with a suite of onboard heaters quick to pamper the batteries to peak performance. 

FHM has been invited to the very edges of the Artic Circle to sample the entry-level Porsche Taycan 4S and to make things more, erm interesting, we’re driving it on snow and ice as well as drifting them around, almost brainlessly, at the Porsche Experience Centre – the sum total of its foundations being a cozy wooden hut and some leveled snowfields. 

I think this is Porsche’s way of proving that their first EV is fun… as much fun in fact as some of its revered sportscars. Noise aside, I’m beginning to see their point. But this snow globe is the sort of care-free entertainment that bears little relevance to where and how most Porsche Taycans will be driven so let’s take a step back and review how we got here and why this is one of those pivotal points in Porsche’s narrative. 

Kicking on from Porsche’s myriad hybrid models, the Taycan is the company’s electric car debutant, modeled on the shortened silhouette of a Panamera but packing completely new technology underneath. With the Taycan 4S the brand is bridging value, brand cachet, range and performance in one zero-emission footprint, while giving you enough options to spec upwards to within a few technological whiskers of the pricier Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S. 

At dinner one of the engineers confessed to me that this is the most exciting project he’s ever worked on because without knowing the limitations, they couldn’t set any. And for the record, his credentials include a lot of Porsche GT3 models…  

Elsewhere with the junior 4S there’s not a lot you miss out on; the 4S still conducts its business through bespoke 800v architecture – that’s double the industry norm and results in thinner cabling, less weight, infallible launch control and a wide band of charging options. The Porsche Taycan is also the first mainstream EV to pack a 2speed gearbox, thereby giving it a 155mph (250kph) top speed without hampering acceleration. The cars we drove on launch also came with optional four-wheel steering, Torque Vectoring Plus and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control.

Holding big satisfying slides is mostly the flattering work of the Taycan’s interminable driving modes but at its core this is predominantly a rear-wheel-drive sports car, inheriting a similar torque distribution to the 919 Le Mans-winning car of 2017. Only when you’ve overstepped the mark does that reassuring four-wheel-drive system consciously swoop in to rescue things. And when working out those neck muscles with launch control, even on slippery surfaces. The 0-60mph (0-100kph) is attained in just over 4 seconds and a healthy margin ahead of the equivalent petrol-powered Panamera.

I don’t find the package as entirely predictable or configurable as say a BMW M5, but there’s an agility here that is very appealing to the niche EV market that still stoically band together as driving enthusiasts. On-road sensations, under civilized conditions, are slightly sterilized so don’t expect the hairs on your forearms to stand up on edge but I defy you not to enjoy the suddenness with which it teleports down the road with the artificial sports sound not exactly shaking the snow from the overhanging branches.

Inside Porsche has done well to desist a potential flooding of gadgets off this blank sheet of paper. To our relief, there’s no fiddling with digital wing mirrors like in the Audi e-tron or highly stimulated graphics pertaining to range – unless of course, you need them. Nope, the genius of the Taycan 4S is how well it sorts and distills all this overwhelming information into the background, allowing you to drive the Taycan like a traditional Porsche sports car rather than an EV. It’s an environment well suited to long stretches of autobahn or attacking a series of corners.

There are two screens (three if you include the driver’s instrument cluster) which all function of the same interface, sometimes leading to a repetitive flow of information. The one ahead of the passenger is new to Porsche but after thumbing it for a few minutes it felt barely more convenient than the center screen and until you can access services like Netflix, or other potentially distracting things to the driver, is quite bland… for now. But Porsche’s systems have caught up with its peers in the last twelve months and in a new interior design chapter, sans buttons, the haptic feedback responds precisely and rewardingly although it doesn’t have the slick animations or color palette of a Mercedes-Benz or BMW. I also can’t finish without mentioning the impeccable build quality which stands out as the best of any Porsche product on sale and will help justify that premium price.

If the measure of a car is to be taken by its base model, the Taycan 4S sets the Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S up for class honors. While we couldn’t answer questions about range on this launch, it’s unlikely that Porsche’s estimates will be far off given that this is a brand that famously underquotes its figures. More telling for us is that the Taycan’s touchpoints are very deliberate and well thought out while introducing innovative technologies bespoke to Porsche. Understatedly fashionable and cool but not intimidating to use every day. Does that sound familiar? JP