by Karl Furlong
It's finally here. After a long build-up, Porsche's first all-electric car has arrived in the shape of the stylish Taycan. With Tesla having been established as the benchmark for EV performance and driving range, can the Porche Taycan spoil Elon Musk's party? In the case of the base, six-figure Taycan 4S, up to 563 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque enables a 0-60 mph dash of 3.8 seconds. According to the international WLTP cycle (EPA mileage estimates have yet to be announced), the 4S' maximum estimated range works out to 288 miles. By comparison, the base Tesla Model S Long Range Plus is over $20,000 less expensive, gets to 60 mph a tad faster (3.7 seconds), and can travel over 100 miles further on a single charge. Does this spell doom and gloom for the Taycan, then? Not quite. Because while Tesla's on-paper figures remain unbeatable, the Taycan brings Porsche's dynamic prowess to the mix. It handles with sports car-like sharpness, can seat four comfortably, and boasts Porsche's outstanding build quality. Pricey it may be, but the all-electric Taycan is a triumph for Porsche.
The Taycan is an all-new model for the 2020 model year and the 4S is the base version in the range. We review the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S separately. In 4S guise, the AC permanent synchronous motors deliver 523 hp (up to 563 hp overboost power with launch control and the upgraded battery) and 479 lb-ft of torque. A single-speed transmission on the front axle is complemented by a two-speed transmission on the rear axle, and the standard 79.2 kWh battery can be upgraded to a 93.4 kWh battery. However, the 79.2 kWh battery will only be available on Taycans that begin production in June 2020. Porsche's adaptive air suspension provides the Taycan with superb dynamics, while a 2+2 seating concept with power-adjustable front seats is the default configuration.
See trim levels and configurations:
Porsche doesn't often break the mold with its exterior designs, but the Taycan is a refreshing departure. While unmistakably Porsche, the Taycan does enough to set itself apart from models like the 911. The front perspective is low and wide, with LED headlights and Porsche's signature four-point LED daytime running lights. A notable styling feature is the vertical air vents that join up with the headlight clusters. The Porsche logo is neatly integrated into the ultra-narrow rear light strip, and of course, exhaust outlets are noticeable by their absence. The rear shoulders make a powerful statement, and the exterior look is emphasized by 19-inch Taycan S Aero wheels, red-painted brake calipers, recessed door handles, and a front wiper washer system.
The Taycan is 3.4 inches shorter (lengthwise) than the Panamera and measures 1.7 inches lower, too. Key dimensions are a length of 195.4 inches, a width of 77.5 inches (84.5 inches with the wing mirrors included), and 54.3 inches in height. The wheelbase is also shorter than the Panamera's at 114.2 inches. Like other EVs, the battery pack adds a substantial amount of weight, so the Taycan 4S weighs 4,953 pounds, nearly 800 lbs more than the base Panamera.
Ten different shades can be chosen from when configuring your ideal Porsche Taycan 4S. White and Black are the standard shades, followed by seven metallics that each cost $800: Carrara White, Jet Black, Volcano Grey, Dolomite Silver, Gentian Blue, Frozen Blue, and Mamba Green. One special color - Carmine Red - is a much pricier $3,150. The stealthy monotones do a good job of complementing the Taycan's lines, but the almost pastel-like Frozen Blue does contrast nicely with the black roof.
Even though the 4S is the entry-level Taycan, it still provides neck-snapping acceleration off the line. With launch control and power being fed to all four wheels, it'll blast through the 60 mph mark in only 3.8 seconds before reaching a top speed of 155 mph, thanks to up to 563 horsepower. That's nearly as quick as the base Tesla Model S, which is just a tenth of a second quicker to 60. A single-speed transmission on the front axle and a two-speeder on the rear axle deliver instant wallops of electric power, with a surge forward making it easy to take gaps in traffic. Although the Taycan Turbo will get to 60 in under three seconds, the 4S provides all the performance you could need in a four-seat luxury car.
Powering the 4S Taycan are two permanent magnet synchronous motors - one on the front axle and a more powerful one at the back. Overboost power and the availability of an upgraded battery make it more complex to describe how much power/torque the 4S actually provides. With the standard 79.2 kWh performance battery, the 4S generates up to 429 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. When launch control is activated, overboost power outputs see an increase to 523 hp. Upgrading to the optional 93.4 kWh battery (initially, only this battery will be available) raises the base outputs to 483 hp/479 lb-ft, with overboost increasing the power output to 563 hp. The bigger battery begins to have an effect at higher speeds, when it shaves four-tenths off the 4S' sprint to 200 km/h (124 mph).
In front, a single-speed transmission is used, with a two-speed automatic at the back. An especially short-ratio first gear helps the 4S pick up speed rapidly from a standing start, while second gear takes over for higher speed situations. It's hard to imagine that the misleadingly named Turbo and Turbo S models are even faster than this (they are), because like most electric cars, the Porsche Taycan 4S has that unique EV ability to stun you into silence as it launches forward in silence. If the quiet is too much for you, you can opt for the optional $500 Electric Sport Sound feature. When activated, it sounds like you're in a spaceship about to lift off for a day trip to Mars - time will tell if the novelty effect wears off. But what will never get tired is the 4S' crushing passing power and the sense that everything around you is always moving in slow motion.
It's here that the Taycan deviates most from the standard EV recipe. It wasn't enough just to make this car fast - the Taycan also needed to adhere to Porsche's time-honored reputation for building exceptional driver's cars, regardless of the segment, body style, or drivetrain. It's safe to say, then, that expectations are high. But the electric Porsche Taycan is off to a promising start as the underbody battery provides the car with a desirable low center of gravity. An adaptive air suspension is standard and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) continuously adjusts the damping force, with the dual benefit of maintaining a comfortable ride and resisting body roll.
On the road, it all adds up to something special, especially for an electric vehicle. The ride leans more towards firm than soft, but it's never uncomfortable and bumps are dispensed with quickly, without disrupting the calm in the cabin. Steering responses are incredibly precise and, in general, the Taycan does a better job of concealing its heft than the muted Panamera - a lot of the Taycan's more planted feel is down to that low center of gravity we mentioned. Powering out of corners reveals that there is more grip here than most will use, and most of the time, Comfort mode is perfect as it doesn't make the Taycan so floaty that you stop enjoying the experience. Is there the kind of connectedness you'd get in a 911? No. But the Taycan is a far more engaging steer than the Tesla Model S, and certainly one of the benchmarks for driving pleasure in an EV.
Rear axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) add an even greater sense of agility to the drive, but mostly, we're relieved that enough Porsche DNA has been engineered into the base suspension setup. Its electric powertrain may get many of the headlines, but let there be no doubt that the Taycan's chassis shines just as brightly.
At the time of writing, the EPA hadn't yet released MPGe and range estimates for the USA's Taycan 4S. Based on the international WLTP rating, though, a maximum range of 288 miles is possible with the optional 93.4 kWh battery, and just over 250 miles with the standard battery. Tesla claims 391 miles for the Model S Long Range, so here the Porsche is comprehensively outgunned by its chief competitor. Still, nearly 300 miles will more than suffice for a couple of commutes to and from the office, and most weekend trips will be fine, too.
As part of the 4S E-Mobility package, you get an on-board AC-charger with up to 9.6 kW, an on-board DC-charger with 50 kW, a 120-volt supply cable for the mobile charger, and a 240-volt NEMA 14-50 supply cable for the mobile charger. The claimed charging times are impressive: just over 22 minutes is needed for DC charging to get the battery up from five- to 80 percent. Using a regular 120-volt plug at home (the slowest available), a full charge from empty will take around 35 hours, dropping to eight hours (with the standard battery) using 11 kW of AC power. Under maximum charging performance (up to 270 kW via an 800-volt Porsche Turbo Charging station), just five minutes is required for a range of over 60 miles.
2020 Porsche Taycan buyers in the U.S. receive three years' free access to Porsche's charging service, with 30-minute free charging at Electrify America's speed charging stations. Over 400 of these stations will be in operation in North America this year - while this lags behind Tesla's expansive Supercharging network, it's a start.
The amount of real estate taken up by glossy screens inside the Taycan's cabin is startling upon first acquaintance. Ahead of the driver, a large curved display contains vital speed and other information. Two more screens are found in the center section (one for infotainment and another below this for climate control settings and more), while another screen can be fitted to the dash on the front passenger side. Although it all looks thoroughly fresh, it requires plenty of time to get familiar with. For the rest, Porsche's familiar build quality is on full display and seating comfort is good, although rear space is merely average. Eight-way power front seats with heating, lane keep assist, and inductive wireless charging are among the standard features.
The new Porsche Taycan sports a 2+2 layout as standard, but a smaller middle rear seat is optional and can increase overall capacity to five. Seated behind the wheel and sitting low down, the Porsche Taycan EV does a fine job of mimicking the feel of the 911, and that can only be a good thing. In front, leg- and headroom are enough to keep the driver and his sidekick perfectly happy, but at the back, you do notice that this is a smaller car than the Panamera - space for knees is just about fine, but headroom will be an issue for anyone six-feet tall and over. Eight-way power adjustment for the front seats is pretty basic at this level, but adaptive sport seats with 18-way power-adjustment are available. The driver's view to the front and sides is unobstructed, but rearward vision is hampered a bit by a high-mounted parcel shelf.
Partial leather seats in either black or Slate Grey is all you get as standard. In other words, Porsche almost compels you to part with at least another $4,130 to upgrade to full leather seats. If you want some more interesting color combinations, well, that'll increase the Porsche Taycan's price to $4,700 for a choice between Black/Limestone Beige, Black/Bordeaux Red, and Black/Chalk. Race-Tex, a leather-free option, has fewer shades available but costs the same for either a plain color or a two-tone Black/Slate Grey combination. The ultimate upgrade is Olea Club leather in either Basalt Black or Truffle Brown, but both are $6,570 options and require upgrading to the 14-way power seats for an additional $1,510. Olea Club leather in Basalt Black/Atacama Beige costs $7,140. Brushed aluminum door-sill guards and a nice-to-hold multifunction steering wheel in leather both look the part, but to get the best Taycan interior you can, be prepared to dig deep into your pockets.
With no regular gasoline engine under the hood, the Taycan has two luggage compartments - a small frunk in front with 2.8 cubic feet of space, and a larger rear trunk with 14.3 cubes that's large enough for a few carry-ons. Combined, the 17.1 cubes of total cargo space is nearly identical to the Panamera's rear trunk capacity. Again, the Tesla Model S trumps the Taycan as it has a combined 28.4 cubes of cargo space. Fortunately, the 60/40-split-folding rear seats can expand total cargo capacity.
Interior storage space is acceptable and comprises a front center console (not especially large), front and rear door pockets, and four cupholders (two in front and two at the back). The glovebox is a good size.
Straight out of the factory and without any options added, the Taycan 4S comes with eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, dual-zone automatic climate control (the system can also be activated while the car is parking), automatic LED headlights, interior ambient lighting, a HomeLink garage door opener, and USB charging ports both front and rear. Driver assistance technologies extend to front/rear ParkAssist, a rearview camera, cruise control, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition. It's pretty much typical Porsche fare then, which is to say that many of the options should be standard. These available extras include 18-way power front seats, ventilated front seats, a surround-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control.
The Taycan's interior is dominated by screens. Ahead of the driver, a 16.8-inch curved digital display looks gorgeous. It's complemented by a 10.9-inch touchscreen for the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system for primary infotainment functions. Below this, an 8.4-inch digital control panel allows you to make adjustments to navigation, media, and more. Yet another screen - this one is a $1,180 option - is a 10.9-inch front passenger display; the idea here is that the front passenger can play DJ or assist with route planning on long trips. For rear-seat passengers, an optional 5.9-inch touchscreen display can be used to adjust temperature controls and more.
Interacting with the system is a mixed bag. While the images on the screen are crisp and it responds quickly to inputs, you do wish for physical knobs for some functions, most notably volume control. Infotainment features include Bluetooth, navigation, Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto), HD Radio, two USB connectivity ports in front, and SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial subscription. The default audio setup makes use of ten speakers, but there are two sound system upgrades available: a 14-speaker Bose unit and a 21-speaker Burmester surround sound system.
As the Taycan is a brand new model, it's too early to assess its reliability. However, despite being a manufacturer of high-tech, complex sports cars, Porsche's reliability ratings are consistently high, which should hold the Taycan in good stead.
Porsche includes an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty with the Taycan, complementing the automaker's limited four-year/50,000-mile warranty.
The Porche Taycan has yet to be reviewed by either the NHTSA or the IIHS for crashworthiness, and it's questionable if it ever will, since most high-priced luxury cars are precluded from these tests. We expect it to adhere to modern safety standards, though.
With eight airbags (including front knee airbags and front/rear curtain airbags), the Taycan 4S provides ample protection in the event of an accident. Brake assist, LED headlights (with LED daytime running lights), and Porsche Traction Management (PTM) add further peace of mind.
As for standard driver safety aids, Porsche still charges you extra for many of them. So while you do get a rearview camera, front/rear parking assistance, cruise control, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition, you'll need to cough up extra for adaptive cruise control, a surround-view system, night vision assist, and lane change assist.
Porsche's first-ever EV is a remarkable achievement because, despite dispensing with a combustion powertrain, it retains the pin-sharp driving experience that is the hallmark of every Porsche. Compared with the Tesla Model S, the Taycan is a much more engaging driver's car; the fact that it feels like you're seated in a 911 and the availability of the Electric Sound Control feature show Porsche's determination to make piloting the Taycan as immersive as possible. It also looks fantastic, blending familiar design cues with futuristic touches, and the cabin's build quality is several notches above the Model S, even though all those screens can be fussy to operate at times. In isolation, the 4S' performance and range are impressive, but it's hard to ignore the fact that the base Tesla Model S is just as quick, can travel 100 miles further on a single charge, and comes in at over $20,000 cheaper. The Model S is also more spacious and can accommodate far more cargo. So, despite Porsche having had many years to study its close competition, the Model S remains a formidable hurdle. But if we were to choose one of these cars with our hearts, it would have to be the Taycan.
In the USA, pricing for the 2020 Porsche Taycan 4S starts at an MSRP of $103,800, significantly less than the $150,900 required to get behind the wheel of the Taycan Turbo. The base price excludes tax, licensing, registration, and Porsche's destination charge of $1,350.
By comparison, the Tesla Model S starts at $79,990 and even the Model S Performance (with a 0-60 mph time of just 2.4 seconds) costs less than the Porsche Taycan 4S at $99,990. However, the Taycan 4S does have the advantage of qualifying for a federal tax credit of $7,500, whereas tax credits for new Teslas expired at the end of last year.
As the starting point in the Taycan range, there is just one 4S model to choose from. The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are reviewed separately. In the 4S, two electric motors (one in front and one at the back) provide maximum power outputs of 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the 93.4 kWh battery. Only the larger battery is fitted as standard, but from June 2020, the smaller 79.2 kWh battery will be the default option. In either case, a single-speed front transmission and a two-speed transmission at the back. The Taycan rides on Porsche's adaptive air suspension.
The sleek exterior is highlighted by 19-inch Taycan S Aero wheels, red-painted brake calipers, vertical air curtains on the front fascia, an adaptive rear spoiler, and LED lighting (including Porsche's distinctive four-point LED daytime running lights). The 2+2 cabin features partial leather seats with the front chairs getting heating and eight-way power-adjustment. A multitude of screens includes a 16.8 curved digital driver's display and a 10.9-inch central touchscreen. Further features that form part of the standard spec are dual-zone climate control, a ten-speaker audio system, lane keep assist, cruise control, and front/rear ParkAssist.
Although the price gap between the 4S and the Turbo is close to $50,000, the lengthy options list will quickly diminish that if you aren't careful. Two main packages are available: the $7,170 Premium Package adds a fixed glass panoramic roof, a surround-view system, front seat ventilation, lane change assist and more, while the $6,430 Performance Package includes Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+), electric sport sound, rear axle steering, and the Sport Chrono Package. It must be noted, however, that all vehicles produced until June 2020 will have the enhanced battery and the fixed glass panoramic roof fitted by default.
If you prefer to pick and choose standalone options as they suit you, some of the most desirable ones are the 18-way power front seats ($1,930), night vision assist ($2,420), surround view camera ($1,200), adaptive cruise control ($2,050), the front digital passenger display ($1,180), and the Burmester high-end 3D sound system ($7,000). Front and rear seat heating costs $530 and front seat massaging/ventilation goes for $2,000.
Nothing comes cheaply with the Taycan, but we'd start off by ticking the box for the Performance Package as it elevates the 4S' driving dynamics another few levels. We'd also upgrade to the mid-tier Bose sound system, the 18-way adaptive front seats, and add the front digital passenger display, if only to turn the cockpit into a full-on spaceship. Including destination, the final price works out to over $115,000, still some way off the Turbo but much more expensive than the Tesla Model S.
Both the Taycan (an all-electric car) and the Cayenne (an SUV) represent extensions of Porsche's portfolio that would have once been unimaginable. Of course, we've had many more years to get accustomed to the Cayenne, but like that car, we anticipate that the Taycan will be met with initial trepidation… until you test drive it. Just as the Cayenne set a new dynamic benchmark for SUVs, the Taycan is set to do the same for EVs. But at the price of the 4S, what Cayenne could you get? Well, nothing, actually - the Cayenne S is over $15,000 less expensive and the Cayenne Turbo is over $20,000 pricier. In either case, you're getting one of the best driving SUVs on the road, and the Cayenne is also a much better bet for accommodating rear-seat passengers and cargo (the trunk measures 27.1 cubic feet, almost ten cubes more than the Taycan's two storage areas). The Taycan feels sportier behind the wheel, though, thanks to its lower center of gravity and slippery design. It's also just as quick as the Cayenne Turbo. It really depends whether you want old-school turbocharged muscle in a brawny SUV, or new-age electric power in an ultra high-tech sedan.
It's telling that the Tesla Model S has been around for nearly ten years and yet remains a close match for the brand new Taycan. In Performance guise, the Model S will leave the Taycan S for dead in a straight line, demolishing 0-60 mph in only 2.4 seconds (a whole 1.4 seconds quicker than the Taycan 4S). However, some real-world tests have shown that Porsche's performance claims for the Taycan are on the conservative side; the Taycan has also been shown to repeat its acceleration runs without the drop in performance and increase in heat build-up that affects the Model S. Still, the Model S Performance is marginally cheaper, has a much bigger trunk, and can travel about 60 miles further on a single charge. It's when you aren't comparing specification sheets side by side that the Taycan claws back points; not only is it super comfortable, but the Taycan is a far more enjoyable drive than the Model S, with sports car handling that'll leave you in no doubt that this is a real Porsche. While not as spacious, the Taycan's interior is also much better built than the Model S'. And, once you factor in the federal tax credit of the Taycan, its value proposition improves. The Model S will still be the more practical choice for many, but the new Taycan is a more exciting EV.
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