I wish I could remember where I first heard the phrase “horizontal elevator” to describe electric vehicles. Wherever it came from, I’ve been using it unattributed for almost a decade. It so perfectly describes most electric vehicles’ mundane efficiency, their bloodlessness, and the sound they make that lurks just below notice.
But “horizontal elevator” doesn’t work for the Porsche Taycan. Oh, the Taycan has the smooth, silent push that other EVs (and also elevators) do. In fact, it has an absurd amount of push, particularly in the top-level Turbo S version tested here. But the Taycan is somehow not defined by its electric powertrain in the way a Tesla or a Volkswagen ID.4 is.
The low and slinky Taycan was never the “Tesla killer” that internet headline writers wanted it to be. It was never a Tesla anything. Since it went on sale for 2020, the Taycan has only ever been the Porsche that happens to be an electric. Porsche shares the Taycan’s dedicated EV platform, the J1, with Audi. But make no mistake, the Taycan is pure Porsche.
In any test of an EV, an outsize percentage of comments focus on the relative quickness of its acceleration. It’s the most compelling, and also most common, thing about the class. Quick acceleration is a commodity in the class. The only question is how quick is the acceleration relative to that of other quick-accelerating EVs.
The Taycan’s notebook filled with comments—plaudits, really—about everything else.
“Great ride and body control in all drive modes,” opined editor-at-large Matt Farah.
“Everything in this car is progressive and natural feeling: the steering, the accelerator, the chassis,” wrote executive editor Daniel Pund, who sometimes quotes himself in stories. “It feels like a real car, a real-good conventional sports car.”
“The brakes are wonderful,” said staff writer Brian Silvestro. “No one-pedal-driving nonsense. Just a good, solid pedal with tons of stopping power.”
“It feels like there’s no limit to the speed you can carry into corners,” noted editor-at-large A.J. Baime.
In the current EV market, the Porsche Taycan is the best evidence to suggest that enthusiasts can still have a place in a battery-only future.
One look at the performance data from the test track indicates we might already be living in the future. The all-wheel-drive Taycan Turbo S weighs over 5000 pounds, but it fires to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 10.3 seconds at 132 mph. That’s quicker than a Lamborghini Huracán Tecnica. The Porsche generates 1.03 g’s of grip on the skidpad, exactly what a Corvette Stingray Z51 does. It stops from 70 mph in 150 feet, with no fade after multiple hard stops. And it produces only 66 decibels of sound at wide-open throttle. A Rolls-Royce Cullinan generates 71 decibels at full throttle. A decade ago, any one of those performance metrics would have been spectacular stuff. Achieving all of them in one four-door vehicle was inconceivable.
When Porsche introduced the Taycan, members of the Tesla congregation ridiculed its EPA range rating. And they were not wrong. The Turbo S’s 222-mile range is well off the Tesla Model S Plaid’s 348. But we will enjoy each of the Porsche’s miles ever so much more.
After a shocking price cut, the quicker and longer-range Tesla Model S Plaid is now less than half the price of the Turbo S. How could R&T possibly vote for the Porsche? The answer is right there in the question: This is Road & Track, a publication made by and for driving enthusiasts, for whom the joy of a perfectly carved corner will always outweigh practical considerations.
Porsche offers the Taycan in a variety of performance levels and body styles (10 configurations in all), and all but one cost less than the Turbo S sedan. A rear-drive, 321-hp base-model Taycan starts at less than $100,000 and delivers much the same driving experience. Or there’s the 429-hp 4S, the 509-hp GTS, or the 616-hp Turbo model. (Each version is capable of more horsepower in overboost mode when using launch control.) Plus, Porsche offers the handsome quasi-wagon Sport Turismo body style and the slightly lifted soft-roader, the Cross Turismo.
Apart from typical Porsche premium pricing, the Taycan has only a few demerits. That sleek, plunging roofline compromises rear-seat headroom, so choose your friends and family carefully. And while the cabin presents a clean, friendly-tech visage, its pleasant simplicity means there’s nothing to distract from the dashboard and door-panel materials. The slate-gray interior of our test car looked appropriate for a $100,000 vehicle. But $200,000? Perhaps not. Still, this group of editors would take the spare Porsche interior over the glittery Las Vegas–nightclub vibe of the Mercedes-AMG EQE every time.
The Taycan gives us hope, specifically for cars like the near-term electric Porsche 718 sports car but also for performance EVs in general. Elevators, on the other hand, look to remain just as boring as ever.
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