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2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Track Ride


Were Team Lotus genius Colin Chapman alive today, the thought of the 5,100-pound, four-door 2020 Porsche Taycan lapping a racetrack might spark his own spontaneous combustion. How would the Formula 1 master of "add lightness" reconcile racetrack handling with an EV's elephantine weight?

The better word is "mitigate." Porsche has done just that, last fall cajoling the Taycan to somehow dance around the Nürburgring in a swift 7 minutes and 42 seconds.


Fast-forward to Auto Club (California) Speedway in Fontana. As MotorTrend's exclusive day of Taycan testing wound down, the Porsche PR rep asked—out of the blue—"Oh, I forgot to mention that we have the infield road course rented. Patrick Long is available for rides. Interested?"

He might as well have asked if we wanted to reverse global warming.

In a few short minutes, I twisted toward Long from the passenger seat as he accelerated flat-out—I barely had time to shout greetings into my borrowed full-faced helmet. Born a year before Chapman died, Long is incongruently free-spirited and shaggy-haired for a guy who is the sole American driver for the otherwise buttoned-down German car company.


Pleasantries aside, what we all want to know is how Long alters his driving style to accommodate the Taycan's power and weight. Lapping our nearby F8 course, earlier, I didn't change anything—drove as I always do, but I could feel its tendencies.

As we enter the twisting part of the Fontana course's infield, Long doesn't hesitate to slam over the curbs … tha-whump! We bounce hard; the Taycan is tough. Hanging on through the esses, the weight is obvious; direction changes are sharp, but not the scalpel cuts of a mid-engine car with its concentrated drivetrain.


Squashed low in the car, the battery and its heft are helpful, because weight transfer diminishes overall cornering grip due to tire grip's nonlinearity with load. But because the weight is spread out like a pancake, it increases the polar inertia (even more so in skateboard-platform EVs). That's bad through these infield esses, where repeated swiveling around its axis requires extra energy and eats away tire grip that's better used for lateral acceleration (though the lightning-quick response of electric AWD is very efficient with what remains). That could be why Long is blasting over the curbs.


"How are you driving this car differently?" I ask as we touch 139 mph on a short straight. "This is the fastest I've ever been here," Long says, a little amazed, then he's on the brakes—regeneration be damned. The giant carbon discs are shedding heat like four smokestacks as we arc into the corner. "The acceleration on exit is so great that I'm modifying the line to get into the power as soon as possible." This makes sense.

Might Porsche update its Taycan with a lighter-weight pack? This also makes sense. Recently, I spoke with Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, which is also making all the batteries for Formula E cars. He demonstrated the lightness of his company's upcoming Lucid Air motors by holding one over his head (including its transmission). "This is 600 horsepower, the most power-dense electric motor in the world." A big reason is that it operates at a lofty 900 volts, which lowers current, reduces heat, and allows smaller-gauge, lighter wiring.


If Porsche can get this kind of track performance out of the existing Taycan pack, imagine what Version 2.0 might be like with a Lucid-style battery.

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Unplugged Magazine: 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Track Ride
2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Track Ride
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