Porsche used to be a sports-car company. Then it took a gamble on an SUV called the Cayenne and won big, so big that it changed the brand. Now Porsche sells two sports sedans, the four-door gas-powered Panamera and the Taycan, an electric sports sedan that is proving to be as worthy of the Porsche crest as any of its sports cars.
We’re not even talking about the top Taycan Turbo S, the one with 750 horsepower. This review is focused on the more recently introduced 562-hp Taycan 4S model, which slots into the lineup between the base 522-hp Taycan and the 670-hp Taycan Turbo. In our testing, the 4S version gets to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds at 120 mph. It’ll also corner at 1.06 g and stop from 70 mph in 147 feet. A Taycan Turbo S hits 60 in 2.4 seconds and flies through the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds at 130 mph.
If the Taycan’s numbers sound like a sports car’s, it’s because they are. The Taycan 4S matches the 997-generation 911 Turbo’s acceleration, and it turns and stops on par with the current 718 Spyder. What the Taycan 4S does not have in common with those vehicles, aside from an internal-combustion engine and a lovely manual transmission, is a relatively feathery curb weight. At 5128 pounds, the Taycan 4S weighs 1600 pounds more than that old 911 Turbo and an entire ton more than the Spyder. Most of that mass is due to the EV’s 83.7-kWh battery, a $6580 upgrade over the base 71.0-kWh pack.
So, the Taycan 4S is fast, racy, and has no tailpipe emissions. It’s also an absolute stunner in person, particularly when painted in our test car’s Mamba Green Metallic paint ($800) with gold wheels ($1290). That combination gives off a strong late ’70s vibe that works even better in person than in photos. If you plan to buy one, please consider ordering an interesting combination. While we love the green paint, we suspect few will go for the painted wheels. Gold wheels are only available on two 21-inch wheel designs, the least dear of which is our example’s $4680 Mission E Design units. But these wheels also require a costly brake upgrade. Our tester had the $9080 carbon-ceramic brakes (16.5-inch front rotors, up from the stock 14.2-inch iron rotors), but if you’re going for these wheels on a “budget,” $3490 Porsche Surface Coated Brakes are available. At a minimum, gold wheels set you back $9460. As much as we like the way they look and want to say they’re worth it, they probably aren’t. But Porsche’s coolest stuff rarely comes cheap.
Not every bit of the Taycan’s design is as endearing. Its infotainment interface could use a redesign. The system can be frustrating as simple tasks have become complicated. And unlike every other Porsche that has come through our office since the genesis of the Sport Chrono package and its dashtop stopwatch—added here as part of the $6430 Performance package—you can’t turn the clock function off. Most drivers won’t have a problem with its constantly ticking second hand, but a ticking clock in your eyeline can be a bit distracting to some.
Drivers looking for an EV with one-pedal operation—where the regenerative braking effect is sufficient to slow the car to a stop—should look elsewhere. If you want to slow down a Taycan, you have to use the brake pedal, which activates the bulk of the car’s regenerative-braking capability. While this may seem like a less efficient way to drive, the opposite is true, at least in the real world, as coasting is more efficient than regenerative braking, and Porsche tuned its EVs to be more efficient on the road than in a lab. Heavy amounts of regen, as found on Teslas and other EVs that can pretty much come to halt when you lift off the accelerator, is beneficial in a controlled setting. Partially because of this, Porsche takes a hit in EPA testing and returns a 68-MPGe EPA combined estimate. We doubt the 4S could match the Tesla Model S’s 96-MPGe figure (on 21-inch wheels) if it maximized the Taycan’s regen for EPA testing, but it would improve. In our very aggressive driving, we averaged 62 MPGe over a very rapid 300 miles.
On the road, the Taycan’s cabin seems far quieter than its 68-decibel noise level at 70 mph indicates. And that considerable mass we previously mentioned rarely comes to mind when you’re behind the wheel. This car acts and feels small. A big part of the Taycan’s sports-car-like composure comes from its precise accelerator and brake tuning, which makes finding a rhythm on a twisty road feel as natural as tying your shoes. It’s a far more natural experience than it is in one-pedal-capable EVs. We try to find fault in vehicle dynamics and ergonomics, but we’re struggling to find demerits to level upon this Porsche’s driving behavior and handling. Chassis balance is neutral, and the only thing that might hold the Taycan 4S back versus other similarly quick sports sedans on a fun road is its range.
On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the 4S averaged 65 MPGe and returned a range of 180 miles. (It actually traveled 188 miles, but we round our range results down to the nearest 10.) That’s far below the competition at the Taycan’s price point. However, the Taycan does boast a modest EPA range improvement for 2021, as the 4S’s EPA range jumps from 203 miles to 227 and combined efficiency from 68 MPGe to 77. But that adjustment had to do with adjusting the label values to align with the fact that customers are gravitating toward the Taycan’s more efficient wheel-and-tire packages, rather than any hardware or software tweaks. So, the real-world range of comparable models isn’t likely to be any better.
With a starting price of $105,150, the midrange 4S is still pricier than Tesla’s most-expensive Model S, the $93,190 Performance AWD. Our car’s as-tested price of $143,690 makes it an even tougher sell for those who prioritize range in their EV above all else. But if you’re looking for a user-friendly EV, one that is as much fun to drive as a sports car, the Taycan 4S is an excellent choice.
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