I wonder how history will look back on the current generation of EVs. Perhaps technology will soon take a significant leap forward and these cars will seem primitive. Maybe, in a certain number of years, we'll all laugh about the days of range anxiety. But I know one thing for certain: I'll look back fondly on this, the base-model Porsche Taycan, even if—when—it becomes obsolete. This is just an excellent car, regardless of propulsion method.
This entry-level model is an interesting addition to the Taycan lineup. Its base price of $81,150 makes it cheaper than both the 911 and Panamera. When you consider the level of engineering Porsche has thrown at this car, it almost seems like a deal.
Almost. Essentially, the difference between this and a Taycan 4S is one less motor and somewhat less standard equipment. Horsepower and torque figures change depending on whether you get the standard 79-kWh battery or pay $5780 for the 93.4-kWh Performance Battery Plus. Our test vehicle had the big battery, which gives you 469 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque when using launch control, or 375 hp in regular operation.
Base-model Porsches sometimes fly under the enthusiast radar. They really shouldn't; stripping back all the power and fancy options can give you a more pure distillation of the car. In the case of the Taycan, losing the ridiculous acceleration of the Turbo S variant allows the car’s chassis to shine. As is the case with many EVs, the Taycan is heavy at 4742 pounds, but its center of gravity is low. Those physics, combined with Porsche's excellent chassis tuning, make the Taycan's chassis freakishly competent. There's hardly any body roll, and this car's optional air springs and adaptive dampers handle anything the road throws at them. Supercars will have trouble keeping up.
There's so much grip. Even with this car's Pirelli winter tires, the rear-wheel-drive Taycan almost feels all-wheel drive. But breathe off the accelerator and it tightens its line. There are hints of oversteer if you're a little overeager on corner exit. And on a good road, between the impressive grip and the unusual smooth silence of an EV, it's all too easy to double the speed limit. (As with all Taycans, the base model has a two-speed rear axle, but it switches gears infrequently, so most of the time you get uninterrupted torque.) Speed comes with so little effort, you have to force yourself to watch the speedometer. It's much the same story with the Taycan Turbo, only with that one you'll likely triple the speed limit. This tester had the optional Porsche Sport Sound system, which plays a sci-fi rising warble through the speakers as your speed increases. It's helpful, though not the same as judging your speed based on RPM and gear in an internal-combustion vehicle.
Effortless though it is, the Taycan is an engaging drive, thanks in large part to its excellent steering. After handing this EV back to Porsche, I got to review the new 718 Boxster GTS 4.0. The speed and precision of the steering is remarkably similar between the two cars. There's more effort to the Taycan's steering, which makes sense since it's a far heavier car. You also sit pleasantly low in the Taycan, and the view of the down-sloping hood framed between the fenders is classic Porsche.
The Taycan is rightly criticized for its disappointing EPA range figures—though in real-world driving it seems to be easy to beat the EPA's estimates. But the Taycan uses the unique characteristics of an electric drivetrain to its advantage. The result is something that feels more sports car than fast sedan. And the driving experience manages to be both unique and distinctly Porsche.
Qualities like these are important, especially if you don't have the gut-punch acceleration that defines the 4S and Turbo models. It’s rather elegant, really, how getting rid of the crazy power and outrageous 0-60 time reveals a fundamentally excellent car.
And it's not only in spirited driving where the base Taycan excels. This car is a delight to live with. With the optional air springs and adaptive dampers, the ride quality was superb, though the wide, thin-sidewall tires made a fair amount of noise. And while I'm not a fan of the dual-screen infotainment setup (the older system in the Panamera and Cayenne is far more intuitive, thanks to physical buttons and controls), the interior quality and materials are world-class.
The Taycan has the same problem as just about every other Porsche: not enough standard equipment, and options that feel overpriced. A full leather interior will run you more than $4000, and things like adjustable lumbar support, surround-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, and power-folding mirrors really should be standard on a car in this price range. A base Taycan stickers at $81,150, but it's far too easy to option past $100,000. My own ideal configuration would ring in around $110,000; this test vehicle priced out at roughly $140,000.
Still, if you're looking for a Taycan, the base model could be the pick of the lineup. You sacrifice the crazy acceleration and a handful of items that come standard on higher trim levels. But this car proves that the Taycan doesn't need a ton of options to be a damn good car.
In the future, when I look back on this car, I'll marvel at the sheer achievement it represented. Perhaps we'll laugh at the range figures, but we won't find fault in the way it drove.
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