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2021 Porsche Taycan Review

The 2021 Porsche Taycan is an all-electric sport/luxury sedan from the company that created the ever-wonderful 911. That’s pretty much the Taycan’s story wrapped up in one sentence. But there is more.

This is Porsche’s first fully electric vehicle (EV) of the modern era and it debuted just last year. Considering the Tesla Model S came out almost 10 years ago, the established car makers have been slow to respond, putting the new Taycan among only a few rivals. Even then, this Porsche doesn’t match the Model S mile for mile, feature for feature or price for price.

The bad news is that the Taycan doesn’t travel as far on a full battery, isn’t quite as quick off the line (although we’re talking tenths of a second here) and generally costs more. The good news is that it drives like a true Porsche. And has that depth of engineering behind and under it that’s pure Porsche, which is kind of perceptible in the seat of the pants and transmitted from the steering wheel. If this is the future of thrill-filled driving, bring it on.

Just one thing that might be confusing. The Taycan’s top two trims both feature the word Turbo. In cars with combustion engines and forced induction, this wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But in cars that have no combustion engines, let alone a turbocharger, it’s a different matter. In this instance, think of Turbo as merely a name that indicates high performance.

What’s New for 2021?

Buyers can now add more functions once they’ve taken their Taycan home. In an arrangement called Function on Demand, things like the Porsche Intelligent Range Manager and Active Lane Keep Assist can be downloaded as over-the-air software upgrades.

Plug & Charge involves communication between the car and the charger to process payments securely and automatically. And a battery preservation feature allows the flow of a high-voltage charger to be regulated if the user has the time for a longer stop. This extends battery life.

The standard adaptive suspension gains a Smartlift function, storing regular destinations (like the driveway leading to home) and raising the ride height automatically.

The satellite radio provision is updated to SiriusXM 360L. A new color head-up display joins the options list. The Turbo S model’s Carbon Sport Design package (carbon fiber inserts in the front section and on the side sills, plus carbon-fiber fins on the rear diffuser) is now available on the two lower trims. Porsche also adds seven new exterior colors and five new interior color schemes. See the 2021 Porsche Taycan models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Electrifying acceleration
  • Heroic grip
  • Sumptuous interior
  • Accommodating back seat
  • Charging ports on either side

What We Don’t

  • High prices
  • Several safety and driver assistance features cost extra
  • Range could be better

How Much?

$105,150-$186,350

Fuel Economy

Unlike other electric vehicles that have 400-volt systems, the Taycan runs an 800-volt setup. The higher voltage means smaller, stronger motors and thinner wires for better packaging and less weight. This is an indication of Porsche’s attention to every single detail.

All versions have two electric motors, one driving each axle, endowing the Taycan with all-wheel drive as standard. Liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery packs are stored under the floor in armored casing. Not only is this a convenient location, it lowers the center of gravity for optimum handling.

The entry level Taycan 4S comes with a 79.2 kWh battery pack. Output is a considerable 522 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. Total power is only accessed when launch control is engaged.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its own way of calculating energy used for distance travelled, known as miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe. It puts the 4S at 68 MPGe in the city, 71 MPGe on the highway and 69 MPGe in combined driving. Range is 201 miles.

A 93.4 kWh Performance Battery Plus is optional in the 4S and standard in the Turbo and Turbo S models. A 4S with this unit makes 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, has the same MPGe figures and has a maximum range of 203 miles.

The Turbo develops 670 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque, has those same mileage figures and covers 201 miles. The range-topping Taycan Turbo S generates 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque, achieves 67 MPGe city/68 MPGe hwy/68 MPGe combined, and needs a recharge after 192 miles.

These EPA figures are from 2020, but we expect 2021’s to be the same.

Owners with a 240-volt charging unit can replenish their Taycan in about nine hours. An expanding network of 270 kW DC fast chargers deliver up to 80 percent of charge in about 20 minutes (or add 60 miles of range in five minutes). This makes the Taycan one of the fastest-charging electric vehicles currently (pardon the pun) available.

Standard Features and Options

The 2021 Porsche Taycan comes in 4S, Turbo and Turbo S versions. Vehicle prices include a $1,350 destination charge.

The Taycan 4S ($105,150) comes with staggered-width 19-in alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension with Smartlift, launch control, active aerodynamics, self-dimming rearview mirrors, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights/daytime running lights/taillights, keyless entry/start, interior ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, partial leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated/8-way power-adjustable front seats, 60/40 split/folding rear seats, eight airbags, front/rear cargo areas, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, road sign recognition, front/rear parking sensors, universal garage door opener, curved 16.8-in driver information display, 10.9-in central infotainment display, four USB-C ports, Bluetooth, navigation, Porsche Connect (an app to check various parameters), Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, wireless charging, satellite radio, and a 10-speaker/150-watt audio system.

This model only has metallic white or metallic black as standard, any other color is extra. Larger wheels are offered, in addition to full leather upholstery or a leather-free interior using Race-Tex, a simulated suede like Alcantara. It’s also eligible for a Performance Battery Plus upgrade.

The Turbo ($152,250) has that upgraded battery and 670 hp, plus 20-in alloy wheels, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, full leather upholstery, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, heated rear seats, stainless steel pedals, and a 14-speaker/710-watt Bose surround-sound system.

The Turbo S ($186,350) raises the energy levels to 750 hp, adding 21-in alloy wheels, rear-wheel steering, ceramic composite brake discs with yellow-painted/10-piston front calipers, rear fascia with carbon fiber inlays, 18-way adaptive front sport seats, Sport Chrono package, two-tone Race-Tex interior including the headliner and steering wheel, plus sill guards and interior accents in matte carbon fiber.

Many of the upgrades and extra features in the Turbo S are available as options in the 4S and Turbo. The list is long and comprehensive. Some, like rear-wheel steering and ceramic composite brakes, veer toward the exotic. Others, like the glorious Burmester 21-speaker/1,455-watt 3D surround-sound system or a leather luggage set, are more traditional. It’s easy to drive the final price well above $200,000.

Safety

All Taycan variants have the usual safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, airbags (eight) and a rearview camera. Warn and Brake Assist, Porsche’s forward collision warning system is also standard, along with lane-keeping assistance, front/rear parking sensors and road sign recognition.

Options include a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, night vision and what Porsche calls Lane Change Assist, but we all know it better as blind spot monitoring.

To date, the Taycan has not been crash tested by any agencies in the United States. But it has earned a maximum 5-star overall score from a European program.

Behind the Wheel

Despite aluminum-intensive construction, the Taycan weighs around 5,000 pounds. Blame the battery packs for much of that.

Even so, the 4S dashes from standstill to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds before hitting a top speed of 155 mph. The Turbo model takes just three seconds and the Turbo S does it in 2.6 seconds. Both Turbo models top out at 161 mph.

Nor does the Taycan’s thrust fade when it hits triple-digit speeds. We were fortunate enough to hit the top speed of the Turbo S on an unrestricted section of a German autobahn.

Low drag contributes to rock-solid stability at these speeds. Many vehicles are a white-knuckle drive beyond 150 mph, but the Taycan Turbo S is a model of composure.

A super-low center of gravity contributes to superb handling. Throw the Taycan into a corner and it settles without bouncing, its accurate steering executing sharp turns, and the tires delivering immense grip.

Porsche complements the independent suspension with things like Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) controlling the dampers. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) ensures stability and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus)  brings precise cornering. And although the ride is decidedly sporty, it’s never harsh.

Most electric vehicles slow sharply when the accelerator is lifted, due to the regeneration system harvesting energy. Porsche allows the Taycan to glide. Regeneration only occurs when the brake pedal is pressed. The company’s engineers say this is more efficient. It definitely feels more natural for drivers.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Tesla Model S — The original all-electric luxury sedan and still going strong. Even the least expensive version (which is more affordable than the Taycan 4S) has a long range and Tesla offers high-end performance variants.

2021 Audi E-tron Sportback — An all-electric crossover with fastback that costs around $70,000 and covers 222 miles on a single charge. Interestingly, a Taycan-based E-tron GT is also in the pipeline.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid — Not fully electric, but a gasoline/electric plug-in hybrid. And it’s a 677-hp Porsche. Roomier than the Taycan, it performs like a conventional luxury sport sedan.

Autotrader’s Advice

At this level, buyers can probably afford whatever model they want. So we won’t make recommendations here. However, it’s a good idea to have as many driver aids as possible, like blind spot monitoring (Lane Change Assist) and the 360-degree camera system. If the funds are available, we’d also choose the Burmester sound system over the Bose. Find a Porsche Taycan for sale

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