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2021 Porsche Taycan

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/21/2021 Motor Trend Staff

Pros

  • Fantastic exterior styling (and fun colors)
  • Sounds like a spaceship
  • Feels like a Porsche in every way

Cons

  • Unimpressive range
  • Expensive even before options

Porsche's electric future has arrived. The Taycan debuted for 2020, becoming the brand's first all-electric vehicle and heralding its vision for the coming years. The Taycan eradicates any stigma that EVs must be lozenge-shaped, dull-driving eco-machines. This sedan looks stunning and uses its batteries to lay down unreal performance. If Porsche's future feels like the Taycan, it's going to be a good one.

What's New

  • New entry-level single-motor rear-drive model
  • Smaller, less-expensive battery option for 4S model
  • Streamlined public charging station integration
  • Delightful new exterior paint, interior upholstery options
  • Optional head-up display
  • Available GPS-linked suspension lift system
  • Ability to download new features over-the-air via subscription

What We Think

How things have changed. It wasn't long ago that electric cars were the green alternative, created to divest from fossil fuels and project an eco-friendly image. What they weren't (with the exception of Tesla cars) was anything near sporty. The Taycan shows us that EVs not only can be exciting, but be even more so than combustion-powered vehicles.

This machine is a Porsche through and through. Stupefying acceleration is only one aspect of its performance acumen. Handling is excellent, with confident stability aided by its floor-mounted battery pack. Stopping power is strong, too, even if the Taycan wears its pads down slowly. This car is thrilling and begs to be driven more.

There's a problem, however. Even if it wants to be driven, it can't be if its batteries are drained. The Taycan's range trails the competition, reducing its usefulness in the real world. We were able to exceed the EPA's range rating in our own testing, but it still wasn't impressive. Thinking of the Taycan as an around-town thrill ride might help justify its paltry range, but can it justify its high cost?

Maybe. The Taycan provides a phenomenal driving experience quite unlike any other vehicle. Perhaps more importantly it represents a moment, one that helps revamp the image of electric vehicles from eco-machines to true sports cars. For enthusiasts, there could hardly be a better marque to lead that charge than Porsche.


Gallery: 2021 Nissan Armada (motor1)

Performance and Range

Besides the new RWD entry-level model, all 2021 Taycans have one motor on each axle, providing electric AWD. The rear-axle motor uses a novel two-speed automatic transmission. Each Taycan has a standard power level, and a temporary overboost power level when launch control is engaged.

For 2021, a new entry-level model joins the range. Badged simply as the Taycan, it uses a single rear motor for RWD. Two battery choices are offered. With the standard 240 kW battery, it makes 321 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque, while in overboost mode the battery makes 300 kW and 402 hp.

The Taycan with the available Performance Battery Plus increases the current to 280 kW and 375 hp, or 350 kW and 469 hp in overboost mode. Porsche estimates 0-60 mph acceleration to take 5.1 seconds.

The Taycan 4S adds a front-axle motor and is available with two battery options. The standard Performance Battery provides 320 kW, equivalent to 429 hp. In overboost mode, the battery provides 390 kW, bringing power to 522 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. In MotorTrend testing, the Taycan 4S accelerated to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

The Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus takes base output to 360 kW, which equates to 482 hp. Overboost mode takes battery output to 420 kW, equivalent to 562 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. For the 2020 model, range was EPA-rated at 203 miles.

Don't be confused by the Taycan Turbo's name—there is no exhaust gas compressor in this vehicle. The Turbo name instead denotes its performance focus, with a 460 kW battery providing 616 hp. In overboost mode, it goes to 500 kW, laying down 670 hp and 626 lb-ft for a Porsche-estimated 3.0-second 0-60-mph time. The EPA rated the 2020 Turbo's range at 201 miles.

Like Porsche's other sports cars, the Turbo S badge is applied to the range-topping Taycan. No, this one doesn't have a turbocharger, either. What it does have is 460 kW of power, supplying 616 hp. Engage launch control and the battery goes to 560 kW, increasing output to an incredible 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque. MotorTrend measured a 2.4-second 0-60 launch, just a tenth of a second behind the 911 Turbo S. Like with any powerful gas engine, this Taycan's efficiency isn't great, achieving 192 miles of range in EPA testing for 2020. We, however, were able to achieve 254 miles in our own range testing.

Safety

Standard driver assist and active safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane departure prevention, road sign recognition, and front and rear parking sensors. In true Porsche fashion, features commonly included on competitor vehicles are extra cost, among them adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring.

Cargo Space

The Taycan 4S has a 14.3 cubic-foot cargo area; the Turbo and Turbo S have 12.9 cubic feet due to their more powerful and larger electrical components. All models have split-folding second-row seats to allow storage of larger items.

Technology

As one might expect, the Taycan is packed with technology. A 16.8-inch digital gauge cluster display is mounted behind the steering wheel, taking circular cues to mimic Porsche's traditional design. The infotainment system comprises two touchscreens: a 10.9-inch upper unit for vehicle, navigation, and audio controls, plus an 8.4-inch lower screen for climate and comfort settings. On the options list is an additional 10.9-inch display for the front passenger, allowing them to control infotainment and navigation settings. A head-up display is newly available for 2021. Apple CarPlay is standard, but Android Auto is not available. Two USB-C ports are included in each row, as well as a wireless charging pad up front. A 10-speaker audio system is standard, while 14-speaker Bose and 21-speaker Burmester premium audio systems are available.

Is There a Taycan Wagon?

Power, technology, luxury—cargo space? That's a combination Porsche highlighted when it introduced the Panamera Sport Turismo, which is essentially a station wagon version of its four-door sort-of sedan. It seems likely that Porsche will apply the Sport Turismo formula to the Taycan, adding everyday versatility to the high-performance electric car. That's been plainly indicated by the Mission E Cross Turismo concept car, and by spy shots of a curiously camouflaged Taycan in winter testing. Extenuating circumstances delayed the Taycan Sport Turismo's official debut, but it's likely to be revealed at some point in 2021 as a 2022 model year vehicle. We can't wait to see it—the combination of awesome electric performance and long-roof practicality is seriously tantalizing.

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