by Gerhard Horn
The Porsche Taycan has been around for a year now, and it's taken the world by storm. Almost universally beloved by owners and motoring journalists alikw, the Taycan set the bar extremely high in the EV motoring segment. It's not an easy segment to compete in, with the most obvious comparison being the Tesla Model S, and Audi's just-launched e-tron GT. So can a Porsche stand up in a fight against the chosen weapon of the Teslarati? And is the Porsche outdated and irrelevant already against the vehicle that pioneered the segment? Not even slightly.
That's because first and foremost, the Taycan is a sports car, albeit one with an electrified heart generating up to 522 horsepower in non-Turbo-badged models. It's certainly not shy on performance, capable of sub-four-second 0 to 60 sprints and ludicrous lap times on any given circuit. Porsche's mission was to build the world's first EV aimed at gearheads; an EV that would evoke the same kind of emotional response an enthusiast would feel when they hear one of Porsche's more traditional flat sixes. In short, this is an EV built for drivers.
In 2020, there was only one entry-level Taycan model available, as we review the Turbo and Turbo S models separately. The 2021 Porsche Taycan lineup now consists of two models, with a new rear-wheel-drive base model slipping in below the existing 4S. The 4S now comes as standard with a less powerful 79.2 kWh battery, but the 93.4 kWh battery is still part of the line-up. The base Taycan is also available with the same battery options. While the 4S with the smaller battery has a lower output, the price has been dropped. The USA range now consists of the Taycan, Taycan with Performance Battery, Taycan 4S, and the Taycan 4S with the Performance Battery.
Porsche also made some improvements to the charging system, aimed at preserving the battery's lifespan, while Plug & Charge will make processing payments at Electrify America charging points more convenient. A color head-up display is now available, a few color and trim options have been added, and SiriusXM 360L is now on offer. Finally, over-the-air software updates now allow owners to purchase features without a dealer visit.
Porsche's exterior designs are nothing if not iconic. The 911 is so recognizable that you could identify it merely by looking at an outline sketch. With the Taycan being the German manufacturer's first EV, it had to do something different while still retaining Porsche's design DNA. Somehow, the designers managed to pull it off. The Taycan is something completely new, but still inherently Porsche.
It sits low to the ground and it has a wide stance. The LED headlights have Porsche's signature daytime running lights. At the rear, there's a narrow light strip, neatly integrating the Porsche logo. The rear shoulders make a powerful statement, while the lack of an exhaust pipe looks slightly odd on a car with such an aggressive design. The base variant comes fitted with standard features like 19-inch wheels, and those aggressive vertical air curtains in front.
The Taycan is 195.4 inches long, with a wheelbase of 114.2 inches. It's got a width of 77.5 inches with the side mirrors folded but is only 54.9 inches tall. The 4S variant is marginally shorter at 54.3 inches in height. To put that into perspective, the regular Panamera is 3.4 inches longer in terms of overall length and around two inches longer in the wheelbase department. With its considerable dimensions and battery pack, the Taycan is a hefty beast, but that's true for all EVs. The lightest Taycan is the new entry-level model, weighing 4,566 pounds with the standard Performance Battery. The heaviest standard model is the Taycan 4S with the Performance Battery Plus with a curb weight of 4,947 lbs.
The Taycan used to be available in ten exterior colors, but this year Porsche is offering up to 17 colors to choose from for US customers. The standard, no-cost colors include white and black. A step up from that is the metallic color range, all retailing for $800. The available colors include Carrara White, Jet Black, Volcano Grey, Cherry, Dolomite Silver, Frozen Berry, Coffee Beige, Gentian Blue, Frozen Blue, Mamba Green, and Mahogany. The Special Color palette includes four options retailing for a hefty $3,150 each. They are Neptune Blue, Carmine Red, Chalk, and Ice Grey Metallic.
Last year, there was one model in the standard Porsche Taycan range, but this year Porsche is mixing it up a bit. There are two models: a new base rear-wheel-drive Taycan with one electric motor, and the existing 4S with an dual electric motor setup
The new entry-level Taycan is rear-wheel-drive only, as Porsche deletes the front power unit. The 4S still has the dual-motor setup with all-wheel drive and Porsche Traction Management. The entry-level model with the 79.2 kWh battery produces 321 horsepower (402 hp with launch control) and 250/254 lb-ft of torque. The entry-level Taycan with the Performance Battery Plus produces 375 hp and 250 lb-ft (469 hp and 263 lb-ft with launch control). Oddly, Porsche claims the same 0-60 mph time for both configurations: 5.1 seconds. However, the version with the larger battery can cover the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds, relative to the base variant's 13.7-second effort.
The 4S with the 79.2 kWh battery pack produces 429 hp and 472 lb-ft (522 hp with launch control). The 4S with the Performance Battery Plus has outputs of 482 hp and 479 lb-ft (562 hp with launch control). Again, Porsche claims the same 3.8-second 0-60 mph time for both models. Porsche does have a history of being conservative with its claims, however. The entry-level models have a top speed of 143 mph, while the 4S versions can reach 155 mph.
The new entry-level, rear-wheel-drive Taycan is a less complicated car than the 4S. It ditches the less powerful motor in the front and relies solely on the rear motor. Unlike most EVs, the Taycan has a two-speed automatic transmission to achieve a higher top speed.
The 4S is a technological marvel. It has two permanent magnet synchronous motors, one on each axle. The front motor is less powerful and coupled to the single-speed transmission, while the rear motor uses the same setup as the base Taycan. The combination packs a 429 hp/472 lb-ft punch, while the 4S with the 93.4kWh boasts 482 hp and 479 lb-ft.
As mentioned earlier, all models have launch control, offering even more power for a few precious seconds. The 4S can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, but, as with most electric cars, it feels even faster than the figures suggest, thanks to that immediate power delivery. A BMW M550i (0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds) has similar performance claims, but the two cars feel vastly different on a back-to-back test drive. It's ridiculous to think that the 4S isn't even the fastest Taycan out there.
It just hurls itself at the horizon, hardly making any noise at all. We know from experience that this can mess with the senses to the point of making one nauseous, so the $500 Electric Sport Sound feature is a worthwhile investment.
The Porsche can't match the Tesla Model S' impressive range, but we have a theory about that fact. You see, while the Taycan is an EV, it's a Porsche first and foremost. Porsche's reputation for building spectacular driver's cars is cemented in stone. There was no chance that it was going to let any vehicle, even one as important as the Taycan, do damage to that reputation. So, some sacrifices had to be made, but the payoff is rather spectacular.
The battery pack is located between the two axles, low down in the body. The result is a center of gravity even supercars can only dream of. And the lower the center of gravity, the harder you can corner. But Porsche doesn't merely rely on mechanical grip, as all Taycans have Porsche's Active Suspension Management, always working in the background and adapting the damping. It works great in conjunction with the standard independent suspension setup, but it shines when it has access to the adaptive air suspension system's superior abilities.
The 4S undoubtedly offers a Porsche-like experience on the road; it's firm, but not overly so. The steering is precise, and the low center of gravity coupled with the electronic all-wheel-drive system means the Taycan 4S feels like it corners on rails. The way it powers out of corners beggars belief. You'd expect a car with so much power to feel like a handful, but the 4S somehow manages to transfer it all to the road efficiently.
Some trick driver aids help it feel even nimbler, like available rear-axle steering and torque vectoring, but Porsche's DNA is present from the base model. The Tesla Model S may be faster in a straight line, but the Taycan is a car that decimates it when you throw some corners into the mix. In all the years that we've reviewed EVs, not many of them drive as well as this Porsche.
The Porsche's EPA rating was not available when we reviewed the 2020 Taycan. These figures are now public, but only for 4S. The standard 4S has EPA estimates of 79/80/79 MPGe city/highway/combined. By comparison, the most efficient Panamera e-Hybrid has overall figures of 51 MPGe and 23 mpg. The 4S with the Performance Battery Plus has EPA estimates of 75/81/77 MPGe. Whereas the base 4S has a claimed range of 199 miles, the 4S with the bigger battery offers 227 miles. For now, the EPA only provides figures for the Tesla Model S Performance. It is rated at 114/106/110 MPGe city/highway/combined, and it has a claimed range of 387 miles. These figures drop to 98/93/96 MPGe and a range of 334 miles when you opt for the 21-inch alloys. In this department, Tesla still wipes the floor with Porsche. Its decade-long headstart in EV production can't be ignored.
The Porsche's claimed recharge times are impressive, however. The available charging methods are impressive, but Porsche charges you a lot of money to access these. In fairness, each Taycan is sold with three-year access to 30 minutes of DC charging at Electrify America Stations. But it also charges $1,680 for a 19.2 kW onboard charger and $460 for an onboard 150 kW/400V DC charger.
The fastest DC charging can get the battery up from five to roughly 80 percent in just over 22 minutes, but using a standard outlet at home requires a staggering 35 hours. This drops to 9.5 hours with 9.6 kW AC power or eight hours using 11kW AC power.
Electrify America's network tally currently stands at over 500 stations, with more than 2,200 individual charging ports. Tesla now has more than 900 Supercharger Stations in the US.
The Taycan's interior is nearly fully digital. The only traditional buttons left are the ones located on the steering wheel. There are two screens located in the center console. The top screen takes care of all the infotainment, while the bottom screen takes care of the climate control. Even the instrument cluster is digital, and the absence of the traditionally centrally-located tachometer in a Porsche is strange. If three screens aren't enough, you can also add another screen in front of the passenger seat to keep them occupied on longer journeys.
The rest of the car is traditional Porsche, which is a good thing. The build quality is superb, the seats are supportive in all the right places, and you get a generous helping of standard features. The only drawback is the slight lack of space for rear passengers.
The Taycan has a standard 2+2 layout, but you have the option of fitting a small middle seat to increase the capacity to five. The Taycan does a fine job of feeling sporty even when standing still. The front seats are mounted low to the ground, which is impressive considering that there's also a large battery beneath the floor.
The front legroom is generous, but you notice the difference in wheelbase size between the Taycan and the Panamera in the rear. The sloping roof isn't ideal for rear passengers, but only people over six feet will find it uncomfortable. The standard front seats come with eight-way power adjustment, but 18-way power-adjustable sports seats are available. The view from the driver's seat is good, but the high parcel shelf obstructs the view out of the back somewhat.
The Taycan has three standard interior colors to choose from with partial leather seats. The options are Black, Slate Grey, and a Black/Limestone Beige combo. Porsche forces you to pay an additional $4,130 for a full leather interior, which is a bit cheeky at a near $80,000 asking price for the entry-level model. If you want a combination of two leather interior colors, you have to fork out $4,700. Color choices here include Blackberry/Slate Grey and Black/Bordeaux Red. The full leather interior can also be swapped out for a Race-Tex interior for $4,130 in a single color or $4,700 for a two-tone combination.
For the ultimate in upholstery, you have to pay $6,570 for the Olea Club Leather option. This beautiful upholstery is available in Basalt Black and Truffle Brown. Basalt Black/Atacama Beige or Basalt Black/Meranti Brown combinations are also available and cost $7,140. In order to get access to this upholstery, you have to pay extra for sportier seats, which retail for between $1,510 and $1,930.
While black interior accents are standard, you can also get optional Paldao wood trim, aluminum Rhombus, or a brushed aluminum. Carbon fiber interior trim is also available.
With the batteries stowed neatly under the floor and no engine in the front, the Taycan has two luggage compartments. The frunk is 2.9 cubic feet large, and the actual trunk is rated at 14.3 cubes. Combined, that's nearly as big as the Panamera's trunk capacity. It's reasonably practical, but you do have to pack carefully. This is another department where the Tesla Model S trumps the Taycan. It has a combined 28.4 cubic feet of frunk and trunk space. For more packing space, the Taycan offers a 60/40-split-folding rear seat design.
The interior storage spaces are adequate. The Taycan has front and rear door pockets, dual cupholders front and rear, and a good, old-fashioned glovebox.
The base Porsche Taycan EV boasts the same standard features as the 4S. The list includes eight-way power-adjustable power front seats with heating, dual-zone climate control, auto LED headlights, USB charging ports for front and rear passengers (charge-only ports at the back), and interior ambient lighting. In terms of safety gear, the Taycan has a rearview camera, front/rear parking sensors, cruise control, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition. It's an okay-ish specification level, but all the great features are optional extras. Once again, it's a bit cheeky to charge customers for things like ventilated front seats, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera on an $80,000 car.
If you like screens, look no further than the Taycan. There are a total of three, and you can add a fourth and fifth as optional extras. Since this is the driver's EV, let's start with the 16.8-inch curved digital instrument cluster. This display gives you all the vital car-based information, but it can also display functions like navigation or music streaming. Next up, we have the top display in the center console. It's a 10.9-inch screen and it's primarily for infotainment. Below that is another screen with a portrait layout. It can also be used to access numerous functions, but it's best to leave it on something that you interact with regularly, like climate control. The 10.9-inch optional screen for the passenger is a $1,130 option, and you can add a 5.9-inch touchscreen for the rear passengers, too.
The interaction with these screens is a mixed bag. Navigating it is easy enough thanks to Apple CarPlay but accessing the rest of the functions can be tricky. The screens use haptic feedback, which is essentially a clicking sound and a vibration that's meant to mimic a traditional button's feel. Sometimes it works beautifully; other times, it doesn't. When it's feeling finicky, it takes your eyes off the road for more time than we would have liked. We think some hard buttons for essential functions would be a welcome addition. Still, at least you get standard items like SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, navigation, and HD Radio.
As standard, you get a 10-speaker sound system, but you can upgrade to a 14-speaker Bose system or a sublime 21-speaker Burmester surround sound system.
The 2020 Porsche Taycan was brand new when it was launched last year, so there was nothing to report in terms of expected reliability. Now that it has been on sale for a year, we expected to find some teething problems. Porsche has always been a reliable manufacturer, but the Taycan was its first attempt at going full electric. We're happy to report that there were no recalls during 2020, and no recalls during 2021 so far, which indicates that this car's long development cycle worked beautifully. As standard, the Taycan comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty, as well as Porsche's standard limited warranty which expires after four years or when the mileage exceeds 50,000 miles.
Both the NHTSA and the IIHS have yet to conduct a Porsche Taycan crashworthiness review. Looking at the standard safety kit and some of the optional advanced driver assistance features, we expect it to hold up well in a worst-case scenario. That said, a Taycan safety review may not happen at all since high-priced luxury cars tend to be precluded from these tests.
As standard, the Taycan is equipped with 10 airbags, including side airbags for front/rear occupants and knee airbags for those in front. It also gets brake assist, LED headlights, and Porsche Traction Management. Porsche also includes a rearview camera, cruise control, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and parking sensors both front and rear.
If you require anything above and beyond that, you'll have to pay extra for things like adaptive cruise control, night vision, a head-up display, lane-change assist, and a surround-view camera. Porsche doesn't offer all of these safety items in a single package, so if you spec them all, expect to see a dramatic rise in the price.
Yes. The electric Porsche Taycan is an absolute masterpiece of a car, and it's proof that gearheads need not fear the future. Tesla fanboys will point out that the Model S is faster in a straight line, has a longer range, and is bigger in every direction, but that's not the point.
This car was built to prove a point. It demonstrates that EVs can be fun and that you can inject the DNA of a famous existing brand into an all-new product. Sure, Porsche can't match Tesla's range, but Tesla can't match Porsche's quality and handling. Tesla may have the upper hand thanks to its ten-year head start, but Porsche has a nearly 60-year head start when it comes to everything else, and it shows. The Tesla may be faster in a straight line, but we couldn't care less. Perhaps if part of your commute takes place on a drag strip, which is highly unlikely.
The Tesla remains a formidable opponent, and it's around $20,000 cheaper if you compare the dual-motor Long Range against the 4S. Both cars have their weak points, but we can see where they stem from. Tesla is an EV company, still battling with the basics of nailing a car together properly. Porsche is an OG car-builder that is getting to grips with building a high-performance EV. It's going to be interesting to see who gets to the finish line first.
Between the two, we'd go for the Taycan. The driving experience more than makes up for what it lacks compared to the Tesla.
With the introduction of the rear-wheel-drive Porsche Taycan electric car, the starting price has dropped by around $20,000. The Taycan with the standard 79.2 kWh battery pack has an MSRP of $79,900. This Porsche Taycan will cost an additional $5,780 if you go for the bigger 93.4 kWh battery. The entry-level 4S has an MSRP of $103,800, and upgrading to the Performance Battery Plus is slightly cheaper at $5,570. These figures don't include Porsche's $1,350 delivery fee. As is common with this brand, the base Porsche Taycan price can climb dramatically by delving into the options list - it all depends on how much you're willing to spend.
Tesla's updated Model S Plaid has an MSRP in the USA of $119,990, while the Long Range model retails for $79,990.
The new Porsche Taycan range now includes an all-new entry-level model, simply called the Taycan. A step up from that is the 4S, referring to the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup. At first, only the 93.4 kWh battery was standard, but now the 79.2 kWh battery is included as standard. Both the Taycan and 4S can be upgraded from the smaller battery to the larger one at an additional cost.
The Taycan has only one motor on the rear axle, mated to a two-speed gearbox. The 4S has the same setup, plus an additional motor mated to a single-speed transmission on the front axle.
The standard Taycan has a traditional steel spring suspension setup, while the 4S comes as standard with adaptive air suspension. Both models boast 19-inch alloys as standard. The 2+2 cabin can be upgraded to a five-seater. Partial leather is standard, and the front seats have eight-way power adjustment. The interior features three screens as standard, taking care of vital driving information for the driver, infotainment, and other features. Each model also comes with dual-zone climate control, a ten-speaker sound system, lane keep assist, cruise control, and front/rear parking sensors.
If need be, it's all too easy to inflate the base Porsche Taycan price in the USA via an array of tempting options. The all-new Taycan RWD is available with one package, called the Premium Package. It retails for $7,080, which isn't bad considering what Porsche gives you in return. The package includes a panoramic glass roof, Porsche dynamic lights, 14-way power-adjustable seats, Bose surround sound, lane-change assist, ventilated front seats, a surround-view camera, ambient lighting, and a storage package. The 4S can also be equipped with the Premium Package, but it costs slightly more at $7,170. This AWD model can additionally be optioned with the Performance Package, including rear-axle steering, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport, the Sport Chrono Package, Torque Vectoring Plus, and Porsche's Electric Sport Sound. This package retails for $6,430 and is also well worth the price. Some notable standalone options include a head-up display ($1,850), a surround-view camera system ($1,200), adaptive cruise control ($2,050), and the Burmester surround-sound system ($7,000).
As the Taycan is positioned as the luxury EV for keener drivers, it makes sense to buy the 4S. To the base price of $103,800, you also have to add the cost of the more powerful battery ($5,570), the Performance Package ($6,430), and the Premium Package ($7,170) to at least make it feel as luxurious as its price tag suggests. All in, you're looking at $122,970. That's quite pricey, especially when you compare it to the Long Range Model S, which is perhaps one of its closest competitors in terms of performance. It also has a 390-mile range.
The Taycan Turbo S models is closer in performance to the upcoming $139,900 Plaid+, and the price for that particular model starts at around $185,000. The battle between these two uber EVs is going to be one for the record books. Will the Porsche's superior handling be able to lure people away from a car that does 0-60 mph in less than two seconds?
Without the Cayenne, the Taycan would not exist. The world's motoring journalists had a collective existential crisis when it was first launched in 2002, but it became a huge success and helped save the brand from extinction. While these two might not be direct competition in terms of body style, there is some overlap in pricing. The Cayenne S is $15,000 cheaper than the Taycan 4S, while the Cayenne Turbo is around $20,000 more expensive. The Cayenne is slower due to its fossil-fueled nature, but it is by no means a slow car. It also handles magnificently. Every time you get out of one, you wonder how Porsche managed to get such a big thing to handle like a hot hatch. It's also more accommodating and has more trunk space.
If you're looking at this purchase from a practical point of view, the Cayenne makes more sense. If, however, you're buying a Taycan because of its EV powertrain, the Cayenne is no match. You can get a hybrid version, but it's not nearly as advanced as the all-electric Taycan.
Tesla remains way ahead of the curve when it comes to electric vehicles. Every other manufacturer is currently playing catch-up. There's no denying the Model S' contribution to electric motoring, and if Tesla's claimed figures for the new Plaid model are to be believed, the top Model S will have more than 1,000 hp, a top speed of over 200 mph, and a range of 390 miles. It will also do 0-60 mph in 1.99 seconds. Not only is it faster in a straight line, but it's more practical as well.
The problem with the Tesla is repeatable performance. Thanks to Porsche's innovative cooling system, it will let you launch like a madman down to five percent of its remaining battery charge. Tesla can't do that. Let's not forget that while it's most undoubtedly quick, the Model S isn't exactly sporty. Sure, it can corner with certainty, but it's no Porsche. That's probably Porsche's biggest trump card. The fact is that it still feels like a Porsche, almost as if the EV powertrain was a secondary concern. The German car is also miles ahead in terms of build quality, while Tesla is still struggling to get to grips with this part of mass car production. The Tesla Model S will likely remain the default choice for many, but if you want real sports car excitement, there's nothing else quite like the Taycan out there.