Green vehicles, which includes both hybrids and EVs, is a segment that’s exploding in popularity right now. It’s also one that might show more innovation and risk-taking than any other, especially for premium-price green vehicles. With such rapid change, it becomes even harder to separate the wheat from, well, wheat that’s not quite as good. There’s little room for chaff here.
That’s why our jury of more than 20 of Canada’s top expert automotive journalists have considered every vehicle in the segment before evaluating and voting on the winners of the autoTRADER.ca Awards. In this category, we’re looking at every single alternative-powertrain vehicle that Canadians can buy — hybrids, plug-in hybrids, full electric vehicles, and even hydrogen fuel cell-powered ones.
The Green Vehicle Over $50k class might be one of the tightest segments around, including a host of great vehicles, some of which are brand new. And while lower priced, more mainstream green vehicles might be forgiven for a lack of luxury appointments or fancy technology, in this segment, a winning vehicle not only has to have excellent range, quick charging, and all the other hallmarks of an amazing green car, but it also has to be worthy of the badge on its hood. A winning car in this segment must push the envelope as both a green car and a luxury car.
The Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron, Ford Explorer Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Polestar 1, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV were the finalists our jury voted to shortlist, but one vehicle rose above the rest. The Best Green Vehicle Over $50,000 for 2020 is the Porsche Taycan, which is the one our jury deemed to be the most impressive of the bunch. The Taycan is loaded with leading-edge tech and impressive performance, both things that are necessary for a successful premium green car, but it’s also a Porsche, which means it expertly blends luxury and driving dynamics.
The Taycan is the first fully electric model from Porsche, and the German automaker has gone all-out to make it stand out from the crowd. The 800V fast-charging capability, excellent heat management, and an interior that combines the best of high tech with decades of lessons learned in ergonomics are part of the overall excellence of this Porsche.
We’ll start with that 800V electrical system, which is double the voltage of a conventional EV and lets Porsche trim weight and cut heat. It also allows the car to charge at lightning speeds, an important factor in making EVs more convenient. With this charging system, drivers can get up to 100 km of range in five minutes on one of the company’s new charging stations. It also allows for impressive power, with up to 750 hp on the Turbo S or a still impressive 522 hp on the lower 4S trim. More importantly, especially since this is a Porsche, it can maintain a high level of performance all day long. Porsche sent it out on the company’s test track for a 24-hour full speed run, stopping only to charge the battery. That’s impressive tech.
The Taycan also happens to be a great car to drive. We found it to be impressively quiet, even at speeds double the limit here, thanks to active sound cancellation and the lack of an engine. Like any good Porsche, it’s not afraid when things get twisty. Our reviewer said that the Turbo and Turbo S are “purposeful, responsive road-carving machines, almost mid-engine-like in the lack of body roll and instant turn-in.”
Get inside, and at first the look is pure Porsche. Keep your eyes front, and it could easily be a 911. Look more closely and spot the all-new digital gauge panel, which is one massive screen with no trim eyebrow blocking your view. The infotainment screen is on permanent night mode, because it really does look better that way, and even the passenger gets an optional screen bringing them in on the fun of setting the radio, climate, and nav systems. The exterior is also in tune with modern Porsche design, with an appealing look that cuts through the air as smoothly as its lines suggest. The fit and finish inside is up to typical Porsche standards, which means impeccable. This is important because even though this is a cutting edge segment, we don’t think you should sacrifice what’s inside for what’s underneath. The top-shelf materials include optional synthetic leathers and recycled materials to help shrink the Taycan’s carbon footprint. The cage built around the battery boosts both safety and rigidity, with the latter helping ride and handling.
While range isn’t as important when you can charge this quickly, the Taycan still offers a figure that impresses in this group. The Taycan offers 450 km of range depending on trim, measured on the WLTP test cycle. Porsche has also priced the Taycan 4S at the same starting price as the gas-only Panamera 4S, which seems like a good value for EV buyers.
EVs these days need a wow feature, one to really set them apart, but something an average person could enjoy without getting too technical. Many have gimmicks, but it’s rarely anything truly useful. One of the Taycan’s “wows” is the power-operated charge door. With just a touch, the door retracts into the fender for a cleaner look while plugged in than any other EV. If there’s ice on the door, a common concern in Canada, it vibrates until the ice breaks free. That attention to detail is just part of how the car’s engineering and innovation impressed our jury.
The Taycan might be the first track-day-ready mass-produced EV, but that’s not our key focus. That fact that it’s innovative, well built, loaded with active safety features, and raises the bar for EVs and charging technology in general are all important reasons why it’s an autoTRADER.ca Award winner. The performance is just the icing on the cake.