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Oct. 2, 2020, 11:24 a.m. EDT

Driving the Porsche Taycan 4S: ‘Entry-Level’ Excellence

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It was difficult to comprehend, driving the Porsche Taycan 4S electric car, that this is the entry-level version. There are not one but two models (Turbo and Turbo S) above it. I don’t need more power than this car delivers.

The 4S (starting at $103,800) packs a mere 563 horsepower with the optional 93.4-kilowatt-hour Performance Battery Plus option, compared to 670 horses in the Turbo and 750 in the Turbo S. Are those faster times worth the higher prices for the Turbo ($150,900) and Turbo S ($185,000)? For buyers who want the quickest car on the block, yes. 

As tested, with the bigger battery ($9,080), special 21-inch Mission E gold wheels ($4,680), Premium Package ($7,170) and the Performance Package ($6,430), the Taycan 4S price soars to near Turbo territory, $143,690. With Porsche, going crazy with the option list can get expensive. A fully loaded Turbo S could cost $241,500. Easing the sting is a $7,500 federal income tax credit. 

Porsche was always about variety—just look how many versions of the 911 the company has produced! The 4S is slower off the line than the Turbo S—3.8 seconds versus 2.6, but it feels very, very fast. The power shows up more on the highway than from a standing stop. Press the accelerator and instant power and torque are just there, goosing the car forward with little noise from almost any speed. It feels dialed in and well-balanced. 

The 4S, which uses a two-speed gearbox, is just wonderful to drive. It rides and handles on a level that Porsche cognoscenti have come to expect, aided by a floor-mounted battery pack that lowers the center of gravity. Critics have been saying of the company’s first battery electric, “You know, it is a Porsche.” 

The EPA rates the Taycan 4S Turbo as having 201-mile range (with 69 miles per gallon equivalent), which is OK but hardly stellar in a world of 400-mile Teslas. Customers might see more from their Porsches in the real world. The company’s own testing, via an agency named AMCI yielded 275-mile range. Under ideal conditions with a state-of-the-art fast charger, owners could get to an 80% state of charge in 22.5 minutes. It’s a big battery, so charging at home will take a lot longer. 

The only complaints I have about actually driving this car are visibility related. The B-pillar is kind of thick and impedes side vision, and the view to the rear isn’t all that good, either. Also, the controls, including those for the electric mirrors, are too small and grouped tightly together—very difficult to use without taking your eyes off the road. 

The cabin is, in Porsche tradition, fairly austere, though the big and reasonably easy-to-use touch screen lights up what is otherwise a sea of black. The seats are heavily bolstered—useful in a car like this—but I had trouble getting really comfortable in them. The rear-seat legroom definitely could be better, though rear headroom is very good. It’s a four-door car—it really should have a more user-friendly back seat. 

Those niggles aside, the Taycan is a wholly enjoyable driving experience. I took the Taycan to Fairfield County, Connecticut’s EV Parade , part of National Drive Electric Week (Sept. 26 to Oct. 4), and with its bright green paint and yellow brake calipers, it attracted quite a lot of attention in a 30-car field that included at least 17 Teslas. Taycans are still not thick on the ground, but they’re highly exposed in enthusiast magazines, and the public is interested.

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