The Porsche Taycan 4S: Better than a 911? Believe it
It’s been almost two years since I first met the Porsche Taycan, the stylish and swift electric vehicle that ticks all the right boxes. Since then, withdrawal has set in. I’ve been desperate for another fix of this EV that still feels like the happy result of a transporter accident involving a Porsche 928 and an iPhone. My initial impressions were formed driving through Denmark and northern Germany, and I wanted to know if those held up on domestic roads and surrounded by our domestic EV infrastructure.
The introduction of the more affordable Taycan 4S seemed like a good reason to revisit the car, but Porsche wanted us to stretch the car’s legs on a proper road trip. There was one trip in particular that I had in mind: DC to Watkins Glen, NY, a trek to coincide with the annual six hour IMSA race. The pandemic dashed any hopes of attempting that trip in 2020, but this year the stars aligned, and so it is I recently spent a week with the sleek white four-door electric sports car you see above.
For a detailed technical look at the Taycan, please refer to our previous coverage here and here. Briefly, the 4S has a pair of electric motors (one for each axle) that output a combined 360 kW (482 hp) and 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) (or 420 kW/562 hp when using launch control), fed by a 93.4 kWh (net) battery. Our test car was equipped with the larger Performance Battery Plus option, which bumps the starting price from $103,800 to $109,370 before tax credits.
According to the EPA, that equates to a range of just 203 miles (327 km) as our test Taycan was a 2020 model year. But as others have detailed previously, these numbers are so conservative they bear little resemblance to reality, particularly when the car is fitted with 19-inch wheels instead of the larger, less efficient 21-inch wheels. (For MY2021, the EPA rating for the 4S increased to 227 miles/365 km to reflect the more efficient smaller wheels.)
Charged to 80 percent, our test car indicated a range of 221 miles (386 km) in Normal mode, a number I have no reason to doubt after getting to know the car for a week.
Getting to the Finger Lakes wasn’t going to be a problem. The Electrify America network of high-speed, high-power chargers extends into Pennsylvania sufficiently that a two-stop strategy (in Harrisburg and then Bloomsburg) would be sufficient, with a final ~130 mile (201 km) leg from Bloomsburg to Watkins Glen. The bigger concern was ensuring a sufficient state of charge for the return to that charger, since I’d need to use the car while at the Glen. But the presence of a couple of lower-speed DC chargers in nearby Elmira, New York (a 50 kW machine at a Nissan dealership and a 30 kW charger at a Chevrolet dealer) assuaged these concerns. Mostly.
With the rear seats folded flat, the Taycan proved its practicality, easily swallowing a tent, camp kitchen, coolers, and the rest of the gubbins that one brings camping. (I actually even forgot there was a frunk; in my defense it was a dawn start.)
We set off early in the morning and were parked at the track and set up the tent a little over 8 hours later. We covered 385.7 miles (620.7 km) at an average speed of 49 mph (79 km/h), which included stopping twice at EA stations and then a few minutes at the aforementioned Nissan charger (mostly to make sure it would work, which it did). That equated to 3 miles/kWh (32.8 kWh/100 miles, 20.4 kWh/100 km, or 102.7 mpge, if you prefer).
Parked next to the tent, I took some time to consider the Taycan’s shape. I remain a massive fan, particularly when you see the car from behind, with its 911-inspired hips. I am far from alone judging by the attention the car attracted, and I fielded many curious questions about the electric Porsche.
Any residual range anxiety evaporated Sunday morning after finding an unused 50 A outlet in the paddock, allowing me to slow-charge while I did some work then watched the start of the race. It also meant having sufficient energy to drive a couple of laps of the original road course (used from 1948-1952) that evening without worrying about being able to make it back to EA’s nearest 350 kW charger on the way home. Driving that old course—lined with trees now as it was then—brings home just how dangerous racing used to be.
The return journey was as painless as the trip there. The first leg was a return to the EA chargers in Bloomsburg. A missed turn added a few extra miles and the Taycan’s computer estimated we’d make it with 9 percent charge remaining, even in Range mode (which lowers the car’s ride height, dials back the climate control, and limits top speed). That seemed like a challenge to me; when we arrived at the charger 154 minutes and 149 miles (240 km) later, it was with 14 percent left in the battery. For those keeping score, that was my most efficient stint, and the Taycan 4S achieved 3.6 miles/kWh (27.3 kWh/100 miles, 17 kWh/100 km, 123 mpge).
Cruising at highway speeds in the Taycan can be quite a cerebral affair if you’re intent on maximizing efficiency. The car coasts beautifully thanks to its ultra-low drag coefficient, so a brief throttle application here or there to prevent you from slowing below the speed of traffic is all that’s required. An added benefit is minimal road noise, although there was a little bit of a roar audible from where the A pillar meets the roof.
The second leg was just under 90 miles (144 km) back to Harrisburg, then 119 more miles (192 km) home. In total the 359-mile (578 km-) journey took 7 hours and 25 minutes, with about an hour stationary. This consumed an average of 3.3 miles/kWh (30.4 kWh/100 miles, 19 kWh/100 km, 110 mpge). The Taycan might not be the most efficient BEV you can buy, but that kind of energy efficiency is far beyond anything you could expect from a 911 over a long journey—and we’d have had to leave most of the camping gear at home if driving the latter.
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