It’s quiet at the top of the world. On the icy roads of roads of Finnish Lapland, somewhere north of the Arctic Circle, sounds are muffled by the vastness of the landscape and the gently falling snow. There are just a few short hours of daylight this time of year — and by next week, there won’t be any at all.
Squinting into the hazy half-light, listening closely, you can just make out the sound of tires gripping ice and the rapid displacement of snow and wind. The near-silence is strange, because you also happen to be driving a sports car with 522 horsepower.
The Porsche Taycan is the first all-electric car from the company known for its rowdy rear-engine sports cars and big, sporting SUVs. It’s one of the first wave of precision-crafted electric vehicles from storied automotive brands, and it might just be the most highly anticipated car of the year — a symbol of what driving enthusiasts can look forward to not just in 2020, but in the future at large.
Driving over the snow and ice of Finland proved two things: first, that the Taycan is a profoundly capable daily driver. The 4S is the so-called entry-level model in the Taycan lineup (though it will start at a mere $119,400. Moving upwards, the Turbo and Turbo S models offer increased battery size and increased power, although a day in the 4S hardly left us wanting for either.)
So much current anxiety around electric vehicles centres around range and battery life, and how these cars will react to the driving conditions you face everyday. On that front, the Taycan 4S is remarkably capable. The car boasts a range of 407 kilometres (or 463 with the optional Performance Battery Plus), and even when deliberately pushing the car to its limits in subzero arctic temperatures, range anxiety never factored into our day of driving.
What’s more, driving through the packed ice and fresh powder of rural Lapland roads, the Taycan 4S was as steady and secure as any SUV, practically pouncing across the terrain like one of the region’s native reindeer. This is largely thanks to the specially designed, aerodynamically optimized 19-inch wheels and the two permanently excited synchronous machines driving the front and rear axels — or in other words, all wheel drive. And all the while, the sparse interior is a truly pleasant place to be: open, airy, and despite all the many screens (a digital dashboard, plus a centre console made up of two stacked displays, plus another redundant display for the front passenger) it doesn’t feel overly futuristic or unwieldy. Just comfortable.
The second thing a day out with the Taycan proves is that, even without a combustion engine, it’s undeniably a Porsche. This is evident from the first look at the car: its wide stance, flared headlights, and sloping roofline are all reminiscent of the 911 — albeit with four doors. In fact, it’s a kind of perfect size, large enough to fit a family but smaller and more sporting than its four-doored sibling, the Panamera.
More importantly, it handles a lot like a 911, too. That is, it feels like a sports car, and when put to the test on an empty ice track it was all too much fun kicking out the rear end and drifting deep into the afternoon’s setting sun. Plus, the electric motors provide near-instant feedback, launching the car up to speed at almost just the thought of acceleration. (If you want real numbers, it goes 0–100km in four seconds. That’s, um, pretty fast.)
The only downside to driving this car up at the top of the world is that the days are short here in December. Much, much too short — especially when you’re behind the wheel of a Taycan.