A Tesla Killer, the Porsche Taycan is not

Electric vehicles. Apparently, these days you absolutely cannot launch one without people asking this one overused question: Is it a Tesla killer? And, y’know, I’m not entirely innocent either. It’s easy to ride on a name people recognise. So, naturally, when Porsche sent me to Singapore to check out their first all-electric car, I couldn’t help but wonder: was it a Tesla killer?

But here’s the thing, after spending a little time with the new Porsche Taycan, what I realised is that it’s definitely not a Tesla killer. That’s because I think it’s in a completely different league.

OK first, let me get some disclaimers out of the way. Number 1, Porsche didn’t let me drive the Taycan, and I don’t personally own a Tesla Model S or whatever. But, I did get to spend a little time IN a Taycan on the show floor after elbowing my way through the crowd, and I have some thoughts.

I’ve also followed a lot of the coverage around Tesla and its exploits because as a car and tech fan, Tesla’s vehicles fit right in. But the thing is, Teslas don’t really feel like cars to me, they feel more like a tech product with some wheels attached. Kind of like a self propelled Cheese Grater Mac Pro, if you will.

And I feel that it’s this difference in feel that really separates a Tesla from the Taycan because the Taycan feels very much like a car car. And I think there’s no better place to illustrate this point than when you get inside a Taycan.

On the inside of a Tesla Model 3, for example, it looks unlike any other road-going vehicle because the dashboard is pretty much empty. There’s no instrument cluster, no assortment of vents or dials. The only two significant design features are the steering wheel and the huge tablet-like screen in the middle. And I kinda dig how refreshing that is.

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In the Taycan, it’s a whole nother story. It’s absolutely like what the interior of a car usually looks like. The biggest difference is that all the dials and knobs and stuff have been replaced by an assortment of screens. There’s one for the instrument cluster, one for the centre console, one on the passenger side and one in the middle.

So, if you ask me whether I prefer the look of a set of screens like these versus one big tablet stuck to the dash, I’d pick the big tablet.

That being said, the reason this layout is the way it is is because Porsche designed this to be driver-focused. And in a way, that makes sense. Everything is where you’d expect it to be, and each screen does its own thing so controls are easily accessible. You don’t need to re-learn how to use a car because it’s a very familiar experience.

On top of that, the inside of the Porsche is very…posh, for lack of a better word. There’s gorgeous stitching holding the premium materials together, and everything I touched felt expensive and well put together, which is always a good feeling.

Oh, and did I mention the fact that I love the single analogue-ish clock Porsche left ticking away on the Taycan’s dashboard? That’s easily one of my favourite things about this interior. Well, that, and the low-slung race car driving position.

Oh, and if we’re on the topic of what I like about the Taycan, I have to talk about the way the car looks. Yes, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like the design, especially this panda, stormtrooper Turbo S. By the way, it’s called the Turbo S because Porsche treats “Turbo S” as a trim level. So there’s like the entry level 4S, the mid-spec Turbo and the top spec Turbo S.

SEE ALSO:  Porsche Taycan EVs get recalled following unexpected battery shutdown complaints

Anyway, I think Porsche’s done a nice job here with the Taycan’s looks. I really did not like the way their other 4-door sedan, the Panamera, looks because it’s kinda like a goofy 911. With the Taycan, Porsche took their iconic design language and brought it into the modern day.

The EV is hunkered down, the way a sports car should look, almost like its ready to explode off the line. The lights have been styled in this beautiful four point manner that reminds me of the 919 LMP1 racer. Or a Mate 20 Pro, if you take Huawei’s word for it.

Then there are the lateral air intakes that look almost like mascara tears, the gorgeous single bar rear lamps, and I even like the five-spoke rims that give the wheels almost a whitewall look. To me, it’s a very different aesthetic than something like a Tesla, especially if you’re talking about, like the Cybertruck.

Sure, if you look at the specs and the powertrain and the price point, you’d think that the Model S and the Taycan are obvious competitors. In fact, the Model S beats out the Taycan in both range and the nought to 100 sprint.

But, I think that being in the Taycan is a very different experience than being in a Model S. Personally, when it comes to Teslas, the car and tech enthusiasts in me often clash. On the one hand, I love how nerdy the Tesla is. It gets software updates that can give it new features, it gets easter eggs when the festive season rolls around. But I don’t lust after it as a car because in my head its more like a laptop on wheels.

SEE ALSO:  Porsche Taycan EVs get recalled following unexpected battery shutdown complaints

On the Porsche front, that’s a different story. It looks like they did a great job electrifying their sports car DNA, but as a tech product, its not super appealing. I’m not a fan of having screens all over the place, and I’m definitely not a fan of the fact that they’re LCD screens so you can see the backlight bleed for each panel.

And it’s because of this that I don’t think it is or will be a “Tesla Killer”. I think that the people who will be interested in each vehicle will be very different, and as a whole I think having this diversity will only make the car world a better place.

If you’re interested in ordering a Porsche Taycan, you can already place your booking deposit locally but the local launch of the Taycan is anticipated for the first half of 2020.

Photography by Rory Lee on the Fujifilm X-T20