Porsche hasn't made a bad GTS variant for quite some time. So how does the 2.3-tonne, 598hp Taycan fare?
By John Howell / Tuesday, November 30, 2021 / Loading comments
This isn’t your normal track day. For a start, we’re in Mallorca, at the Circuit Mallorca Llucmajor, which is an interesting little track – not too technical nor overly lengthy, so you can learn it quickly – but it isn’t up there with Silverstone or Brands as your first port of call. Then there’s the car we’re using. This circuit is more tight and twisty than it is fast and flowing, so something light, perhaps, like a Caterham Seven, or at least agile, like a Honda Civic Type R? Err, no. Today’s subject is four-wheel drive, nearly five metres long, three metres between its wheels and weighs, wait for it…2,295kg. Oh, and it’s battery powered.
But this is the modern world. A world where woke hates gammon (and vice versa), gender is a sea of grey and history can be cancelled, apparently, along with anything else one side or the other disagrees with. In that context, then, a track day with an electric car isn’t the least bit discombobulating. And in fairness, the new Porsche Taycan GTS is the most track-focused Taycan yet.
So what are the headlines? Well, for a start it’s the first electric Porsche wearing the fabled Grand Turismo Sport badge. That means expectations are high because GTSs have proven themselves to be rather good of late, corroborated by our recent drive of the 992 generation 911 GTS. The front motor is the same EM 190/ 160mm with a 300-amp inverter that all Taycan’s use (bar the RWD, of course), while at the back it gets the same EM 245/ 210 motor and 600-amp inverter as the Turbo. Ultimately that generates 517hp, or 598hp on overboost. A very healthy amount, then, and it slots the GTS neatly between the 4S and the Turbo, although it has the same 627lb ft of torque as the latter. That puts it just 0.3 seconds behind the Turbo from 0-62mph – at 3.7 seconds if you’re counting.
Interestingly, its 313-mile WLTP range is more than any other Taycan, even though the battery is still 97.3kWh - the Performance Battery Plus is standard. The difference is down to new, more efficient software that’s been homologated only for the GTS and is yet to filter onto the existing range. We’re told it will at some point soon.
There are no specific changes to the suspension geometry, and rear-wheel steering is still an option, but the torque vectoring and the PASM have been tuned specifically for the GTS. Björn Leiß (Porsche’s race-driving instructor) says the changes make the GTS his favourite for circuit driving, even over the Turbo models. The standard brakes are 390mm iron discs at the front and 358mm at the back, which you can upgrade to surface coated or full ceramic discs if you wish. You also get the usual GTS treatment of black detailing and darkened light lenses, and inside the abundance of Race-Tex (for the headlining, seats and steering wheel), red or silver stitching and brushed, anodised aluminium trims give the GTS a fittingly track-focused feel.
Enough of the Taycan Ted Talk, then, and onto what it feels like on track. The session consisted of around 10 or so laps run, at Porsche’s request, in Sport+ mode with the stability control on. It was enough time to understand the GTS’s strengths and weaknesses and, as you’d expect, the performance is assuredly among the former. The rate at which it builds speed, especially off the line, is pretty staggering for a car that carries so much battery bulk – although what impressed most was the smoothness of its power delivery. It isn’t overwhelming and not as binary as can often be the case with electric cars, where you have to manage the rampant torque very judiciously so as to not upset the balance through and at the exit of corners. And while the ESP was on, there’s enough slack in the system to let you feel the GTS moving underneath you.
Personally, I like a car that you can trail brake right up to an apex to manage understeer, but that’s not the natural way for the Taycan. It’s such a heavy car that, if you attempt this style of driving, you risk overheating the front tyres. Once they’re outside their optimal temperature range, you won’t get them back without a prolonged wait in the sin bin. The ideal way to drive it is like a big, front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car. Get most of your braking done in a straight line and roll the car into the corner, concentrating on curbing your entry speed so that it doesn’t start pushing, which it will if you’re too greedy.
Then the objective is to get it straight by opening up the steering as soon as possible and rely on the GTS’s huge, clawing traction to drive you out. If that sounds too brutish and one-dimensional, there’s some subtlety involved as well. It’s not simply a case of burying the accelerator and sailing off down the next straight with a “wahey.” It requires consideration, even in the nannying setting because, while the Taycan won’t swap ends, if you’re ham-fisted the power is cut and the momentum with it. But get it right and the system lets you have the power along with some slip at the rear. It leaves you in no doubt where the bulk of the force is being sent, and, as it starts pivoting around its central axis, you steadily lose the fear that electric cars cannot entertain.
The steering isn’t exactly expressive, but it is impressively progressive, so you’re not left second guessing your inputs. And while the surface was generally smooth, riding the exit kerbs demonstrated the GTS’s compliance, which is admirable when you consider the forces being managed. That bodes well for its on-road abilities over more undulating terrain. The one aspect that wasn’t quite up to par was the brake feel. There’s a bit too much regen corruption coming through the sole of your foot – although there’s no question they’re up to the task of shedding speed, and don’t grumble or fade under sustained duress.
While we were politely asked to behave on track, at the end of the session I did ask Björn whether the car would drift? Now, he’s a professional driver working for a serious corporation, but he’s also a car enthusiast and, like many of us, still a child at heart. Happily, he agreed to show me. The answer is yes. It took him a few corners to get the tyres in the appropriate state, but once they were, with a little Scandi flick to help the rear come round, the GTS didn’t just go sideways and pull itself straight again, it held the angle consistently and with no little grace.
Regardless, no one – including Porsche – is pretending that the Taycan GTS’s natural habitat is the track. It is a performance road car primarily, like the Panamera, but the point is that its maker is confident enough in its abilities to give us our first taste of the new model on a circuit. Its confidence not misplaced, either. Yes the GTS is heavy but it hides its weight well thanks to some very clever engineering. Most importantly though, I can report that it is fun to drive – and while that facet might not necessarily be at the top of eveyone’s EV wish list, it does makes for the best Taycan yet.
SPECIFICATION | 2021 PORSCHE TAYCAN GTS
Engine: Dual electric motor
Transmission: Front (Single-speed auto); rear (two-speed auto); all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 598hp
Torque (lb ft): 627
0-62mph: 3.7 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,295kg (unladen)
Battery size (kWh): 93.4
Energy usage (miles/kWh): 3.06
WLTP range (combined): 313 miles
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