10

Porsche’s world-beating EV now comes as a £70k, rear-driven Tesla Model S and BMW i4 rival. Should they worry?

Find Porsche Taycan 2019-2024 deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
Nearly-new car deals
From £59,400
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

Despite the angst and trepidation that might have surrounded its inception, the all-electric Porsche Taycan can now have very few detractors either inside the halls of its parent company or beyond them.

The Porsche was launched to widespread admiration at the end of 2019. Its model range has expanded considerably since, now including both the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo pseudo-estate and Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo all-surface specialist, as well as a special GTS high-performance derivative in addition to the Turbo-badged range-toppers. It has wasted little time in cementing a place among Porsche’s better-selling showroom models, routinely out-selling the 911 and 718 sports cars and the Panamera four-door.

Porsche’s Taycan model line-up is a bit of a maze. The Cross Turismo line opens with the 469bhp Taycan 4, while the Sport Turismo line is currently available as a GTS only.

Back in 2020, we assessed the top-of-the-line Porsche Taycan Turbo S saloon, recognising it with the very first five-star score that we’ve ever awarded to an electric car in a full road test. Now’s the time for a book-ended second look at the lower end of Porsche’s model line-up: at the single-motor, rear-driven Taycan.

This became the entry-level version of the car when it joined the UK model range in the spring of 2021, having first been introduced in the Chinese market. It’s the only one to do without a second drive motor or a driven front axle, and can only be had as a four-door saloon.

Advertisement
Back to top

So, having blown us away in £140,000 trim, can this car impress as much with little more than half as much power, but a bit less weight, and costing half as much?

DESIGN & STYLING

3 Porsche Taycan RWD panning

The ‘J1’ model platform that Porsche developed for both the Taycan and its group relation, the Audi E-tron GT, uses a mix of aluminium and steel in its construction.

It shares axles and other mechanical systems with the Volkswagen Group’s MSB platform (which underpins the Porsche Panamera and Bentley Continental GT), but it can still be considered a purpose-built EV model architecture; and, not least thanks to the clever design of its battery pack (with its enigmatically titled, body-profile-lowering ‘foot garages’), it lends the Taycan some key dynamic advantages, as well as plenty of versatility in its configuration.

Porsche’s standard charging cable comes inline with a chunky touchscreen console that’s intended to fit into a neat wall-mounted dock, but be warned: it quickly gets very scruffy if you have to leave it on your driveway. The car only gets a seven-pin ‘Mode 3’ charging cable as an option; it ought to be standard, but it’s still £370 well spent.

Pick a saloon bodystyle and you can have this car as a Taycan 4S (523bhp), GTS (590bhp), Turbo (671bhp) or Turbo S (751bhp) if this regular Taycan isn’t powerful enough for you. Pick a Cross Turismo wagon body instead and there’s also a 469bhp, twin-motor Taycan 4 version, just to confuse things. The entry-level, single-motor version of the car gets 402bhp as standard, or 469bhp (still with just the one motor) if you option up the Performance Plus battery, which our test car had.

The Taycan Turbo S we tested in 2020 weighed 2355kg on the scales; our latest Taycan test car came in considerably lighter, at 2185kg as tested. And part of the difference can be accounted for by the latter’s simpler electric powertrain.

Where other Taycans are driven by a pair of permanent magnet synchronous electric motors, the entry-level model is driven by only one, mounted at the rear, which drives the rear axle through a two-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a rear-drive motor of a slightly different design than that of the range-topping Turbo S. Although its diameter is the same (245mm), its ‘active length’ is reduced (130mm versus 210mm) – dimensions that influence peak power output in a way comparable to the cylinder bore and stroke of a combustion engine.

Porsche claims that torque peaks at a suspiciously modest-sounding 263lb ft for the Performance Plus version of the car (254lb ft as standard), but also says that specifically applies when the car is using its lower gear during launch control starts. The ratios of the car’s transmission are 15.5:1 in first and 8:1 in second. There’s no way to select or change gear manually and, as we’ll go on to explain, usually little evidence of even an automatically cued shift under normal driving conditions.

The Taycan comes with a lithium ion drive battery carried under the cabin floor, of 79.2kWh of usable capacity. With the Performance Plus battery option (as fitted), that figure rises to 93.4kWh, just under 84kWh of which is usable storage. The smaller battery pack is only available on the Taycan, Taycan 4 and Taycan 4S, with pricier derivatives getting the bigger pack as standard.

Having the lesser battery pack also cuts the car’s peak DC rapid charging rate from 270kW to 225kW, although both rates are favourable for a current EV, and are delivered by the Taycan’s 800V electrical architecture. Charging at the former rate (where facilities allow), the bigger battery can be restored from 5% to 80% in less than 23 minutes; it confers a combined WLTP electric range of 301 miles on the car.

Despite its simpler powertrain, the entry-level Taycan can be ordered with many of the suspension and steering technologies (fitted as options) that we tested on the Turbo S, among them ride-height-adjustable adaptive air suspension, four-wheel steering and a ‘PTV-Plus’ torque-vectoring active rear differential. Our test car did without them, getting instead standard front-axle steering, steel coil suspension with PASM adaptive dampers, and optional 20in alloy wheels.

INTERIOR

13 Porsche Taycan RWD frontseats

The Taycan’s four-door body makes for the sort useful practicality you’d expect of a smallish family car comparable to that of a fairly compact conventional saloon.

In outright terms, it offers slightly less cabin space than a BMW 3 Series, for example, but roughly the same amount of luggage space, with 366 litres available in the boot at the rear and a further 81 litres in the ‘frunk’ under the bonnet. You can store the car’s charging cables under the boot floor near the loading lip, which seems as sensible a place as anywhere, or in the frunk if you prefer; and both the former and the latter can be opened remotely via the car’s key, which is a feature few rival EVs offer.

The Taycan is another of those cars with ‘hidden’ storage space at the head of the transmission tunnel immediately behind the lower infotainment screen. What you’re supposed to put in it is a mystery, though: it has no sides to retain a wallet, phone or bag, and no device charging port either.

A two-seater second row of seats comes as standard, with Porsche’s 4+1 cabin layout, with its middle rear seat and extra belt, a £336 option (our test car had it fitted). Those back seats are comfortable for growing children and smaller adults, although limited head room and leg room would make them a squeeze for taller adults, and they’d be likewise tight for three younger kids in booster seats.

The Taycan’s low silhouette and smallish door apertures oblige a fairly low and careful entry to the driver’s seat, but once you’re in you’re made very comfortable, and your view forwards at the road ahead is made particularly clear by a low scuttle. The standard seats don’t offer cushion extension as standard, but they have good lateral support, adjustable cushion height and plenty of lumbar support.

The cabin design and layout is quite sparse and sombre in its style, having much less switchgear and decoration than we’re used to even from Porsche. In places it flirts a little with featureless sterility in its appearance (brighter-coloured leathers and materials than those of our test car are available), but it has plenty of oddment storage and integrates digital technology cleverly for the most part.

The Taycan’s steering wheel is of a modest diameter and, mounted on a widely adjustable column, it sits in front of a curved digital instrument screen. Its rim can obscure parts of that screen, and it also covers the car’s slightly fiddly gear selector: a two-inch toggle small enough that you could almost have mistaken it, 25 years ago, for an air vent control, which sits immediately to the left of the steering wheel, and can be a challenge to find on your first attempt. The black starter button is opposite it, to the right of wheel, and being gloss black plastic on a matching black panel, is made likewise tricky to find.

Rather than being arranged in conventional button consoles, the controls for the car’s headlights, adaptive dampers and stability control system appear as capacitive ‘buttons’ on the perimeter of the instrument binnacle, which don’t give any tactile feedback when ‘pressed’. There are some slightly unintuitive usability quirks of the Taycan’s cabin that need to be negotiated when becoming familiar with the car, then, but none will trouble you for long.

The infotainment system is presented on two touchscreens on the centre stack, the primary upper one bigger, widescreen and landscape-oriented, and the secondary one lower and nearer to your left hand, though smaller and portrait-oriented. The lower one mostly stands in for conventional heating and ventilation controls, but it’s also where you’ll monitor charging progress and set departure timers (battery and cabin pre-conditioning being a distinct efficiency boon for EVs). Its lower portion also gives you a de-facto fingertip input pad if you prefer tracing letters and numbers when programming the navigation to typing them.

Porsche’s voice recognition system is an effective route to the same result, though, and the wider infotainment system is responsive, clearly rendered and easy to use, with particularly good built-in integration of Apple Music streaming for those with matching accounts. For extra cost, you can have an additional 10.9in touchscreen integrated directly ahead of the front passenger for the control of the car’s media system, and also twin 10.1in touchscreens mounted on the headrests for back-seat passengers. Premium audio systems by both Bose and Burmester are offered, although our test car had neither, and the standard system didn’t offend for audio system power or clarity.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

2 Porsche Taycan RWD frontcorner

The single-motor Taycan overcame fairly chilly and damp test conditions to post acceleration benchmarks strong enough to impress on any modern, £75,000, four-seater performance car, electric or otherwise. The car’s acceleration feels far from startling or savage, and doesn’t really compare with that of the Taycan Turbo S. Even so, there’s a nicely understated sort of potency and the usual pleasing linearity and responsiveness about this sort of electric performance, which our test car’s 20in wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres make fully deployable on the road even in less than perfect conditions.

Porsche’s electronic launch control governed the car away from rest very efficiently, with just the occasional snatch of wheelspin, to hit 60mph in 5.1sec, 30-70mph in 3.7sec, and 100mph from rest in 10.9sec. A two-motor, four-wheel-drive Jaguar I-Pace is marginally faster over the first two of those benchmarks, but the Porsche’s second gear and its more slippery silhouette make it the quicker of the two cars to three figures and beyond. It’s also only a tenth slower to 100mph, and significantly faster thereafter, than Audi’s relatively bluff, three-motor E-tron S Quattro. Porsche always claimed that the Taycan was an EV made for the autobahn; as our numbers bear witness, that’s true even of the entry-level version.

Porsche’s development don Andy Preuninger likes a car with just enough power to spin up its driven rear axle, but not to much as to dominate it character. Not by accident, I suspect, that’s precisely how the ‘Performance Plus’ Taycan feels: enlivened by power but not ruled by it.

3 Porsche taycan rwd panning 0

Launch control starts are one of very few occasions when you’ll feel the car’s gearbox shift. The Taycan sticks to top gear during most normal driving even at low speeds, and when it does shift you’ll only be aware of it occasionally. Apply a big throttle input suddenly from low speed with the car’s Normal driving mode selected, for example, and the downshift to first can come with a bit of a shove; speed down a motorway slip road under load and there is the briefest of interruptions in the car’s power delivery, but one that takes concentration to notice. But during a full-bore standing start, the unmistakable but welcome percussive impact of a ratio change can be felt going through the Taycan’s driveline somewhere between 70mph and 80mph. It’s delivered so quickly that it made for no interruption to acceleration that showed in our satellite timing data trace, but you could clearly feel it – and also see the car’s rate of acceleration slow slightly after that speed.

When driving the Taycan in more normal circumstances, you’re rewarded with well-tuned pedals, and just enough control over the regenerative settings of the car’s electric motor to adapt it to your whim and taste. Your can switch the car to coast freely, or to regenerate progressively with speed and driving mode, through a toggle button on the left-hand steering-wheel spoke. There are no regen-specific shift paddles, which is the one way that Porsche might have made the driving experience more involving, especially in everyday operation.

20 Porsche taycan rwd regenbutton

You can switch Porsche’s synthesised ‘engine noise’ on and off on a button adjacent to the one for battery regen, if you so choose. It’s novel and unusual to listen to, layered on the ear and varying with speed and throttle load; so it’s more sophisticated than some, and interesting with it – but perhaps not enigmatic or genuine enough that you’ll want to listen to it indefinitely.

RIDE & HANDLING

The Taycan Turbo S impressed us a great deal with its supple ride composure, and with surprisingly effortless agility and cornering poise for such a heavy car, when we tested it in 2020. The regular Taycan does without that car’s electronically torque-vectored four-wheel drive, and without some of the weight, granted; but, as we’ve already explained, our test car also did without its range-mate’s clever height-adjustable air suspension, four-wheel steering and active rear differential. So is there a net dynamic gain here to report here, or a loss?

It’s a complicated equation, but our test jury agreed that the cheaper, simpler, rear-driven Taycan probably offers at least as much driver appeal as its more expensive sibling, if not a shade more – with its dynamic strengths apparent in slightly different places.

You can go all the way up to an optional 21in alloy wheels on the Taycan if you want to, but if you want to preserve the car’s comfort and isolation and its indulgent balance of grip, stick with a 19- or 20-.

There is a clearer sense of purity and a more natural handling balance about the single-motor car. The fact that the chassis is always pushed out of bends from the rear axle makes its handling more honest and a shade more predictable, and also leaves the steering entirely uncorrupted by tractive forces. The regular Taycan’s more moderate performance level is also easier to fathom on the road than that of the Taycan Turbo S, and can be fully uncorked without trepidation, which makes the car easier to enjoy much of the time.

Being couched so low to the ground remains a central dynamic asset for the car. It’s one of only a handful of EVs ever to have conjured a real, perceptible gain from carrying its bulk low and using it to lower its centre of gravity – something routinely claimed of so many electric rivals, but rarely decisively delivered. And relatively gentle suspension rates are evidently key to its success.

The Taycan rolls very little when cornering. It pitches very little under power or brakes. It changes direction with the really distinguishing crispness and natural poise you’d expect of a much lighter sports coupé, and has manageable and consistent steering weight and a natural cornering composure that both invite you to experiment with power, line and attitude in a way you just don’t expect in a 2.2-tonne, four-door EV. It’s a really captivating drive, and a true Porsche.

Only at bigger speeds on rising country roads, when vertical inputs set up moments of heaving and compression, do you become aware that the Taycan doesn’t actually need stiff springing or aggressive damping to do any of the above. Then, for a moment, the steel sprung car can feel just a little bit heavy and under-damped where a lower-slung, more actively reined-in air-sprung Taycan might not.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

1 Porsche Taycan RWD tracking

The Taycan is another one of those depreciation-resistant Porsches, just as the Macan was, and so many covetable 911s, Caymans and Boxsters before it.

Over a typical three-year, 36,000-mile ownership cycle, residual value estimators CAP suggest that it’ll retain almost 10% more of its original showroom price, and actually depreciate less, than a range-topping BMW i4 xDrive M50 (which is £13k cheaper at MSRP). That fact, along with the benefit-in-kind tax advantages associated with running an EV, helps explain why the car is doing such good business; because it may be pleasingly good value on monthly finance as well as on your P11D.

Much as it clearly isn’t the most spacious, practical or versatile electric car you might choose to spend £75,000 on, so too – and for similar reasons – is it not the longest-legged either. With the larger of two battery pack options fitted, and tested in consistently chilly ambient conditions, our test car averaged 2.7 miles per kWh over the course of a full test that included performance benchmarking, and hit 3.1mpkWh on our motorway-typical touring economy test. That suggests you should expect to see between 230 and 260 miles of usable range from the car in daily driving and possibly a little more in warmer conditions, although Porsche’s standard-fit air source heat pump mitigates the efficiency penalty that the car suffers in cold weather.

You can spend less on a new EV and get better battery range, clearly, but balance what the Taycan offers in that respect against its performance and its qualities as a driver’s car, and its rapid-charging capacities, and what it offers seems more than acceptable.

That the standard Taycan returned better running efficiency than we saw from the Taycan Turbo S stands to reason, but also plays in the favour of the ‘lesser’ model: the Turbo S only recorded a 70mph touring test range of 223 miles, and in more favourable conditions at that.

VERDICT

When we road tested the range-topping Porsche Taycan Turbo S in 2020, we concluded that we had just appraised the first truly world-class EV we’d ever come across. Now we know that the car stands out even more clearly in near-entry-level form as it does dressed up to the max.

It’s a mark of how quickly the market for zero-emissions cars is developing that there are now a handful of other electric cars (Mercedes EQS, BMW iX, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6) that justify that sort of billing, albeit at quite different price points and in their different ways. But the fact that the entry-level Taycan earns the same recommendation as its 751bhp range-mate, standing out even more clearly as a £75,000 driver’s car in 2022 as its £140,000 sibling did in 2020, is no mean compliment.

If time brings a cheaper, rear-driven Sport Turismo to the Taycan showroom line-up, the planets will have aligned. That’d be the car to have, I reckon: for maximum range, usable space, driver appeal and performance value. But for now, I’d be very happy indeed in a saloon.

This remains the defining electric car of its age for interested drivers. It has outstanding dynamic appeal and involvement, which a direct rival has yet to even approach let alone surpass; a perfectly judged, just-so balance of deployable performance, ready handling poise, size, weight, electric range and associated usability; and it stands up for outright driver appeal even compared to the best combustion-engined competition, something critics wouldn’t expect any EV to do.

The Porsche Taycan is still the champion of the luxury EV market – the car to break down barriers, challenge perceptions and change minds, more than any other – and it’s never better than at its simplest, rear-driven best. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.