If this new estate version of Porsche’s brilliant Taycan electric car is the future, then James Fossdyke reckons it’s very bright indeed
Napoleon Boneparte had his flaws – not least an inability to get up at a sensible hour and finish the job he started – but he had the propensity for great wisdom. His preference for staff with luck rather than talent may not have worked out in the end, but he described time as a “robber who steals what is most precious to men”.
With one thing or another, time has flown by in recent years, and the pace of change has been faster still. This summer marks an incredible eight years since the Tesla Model S arrived in the UK, single-handedly changing the perception of electric cars. No longer lambasted as glorified milk floats, they became desirable and interesting and sexy – something Tesla owner Elon Musk celebrated with the brand’s subsequent creations. The Model S was followed by the Models 3, X and Y, albeit not in that order.
Tesla was the company that made other car makers sit up and take note of electric cars. By launching high-tech, long-range electric cars and a brilliant, bespoke charging network to support them, Tesla became the brand to beat. Despite the quality issues that have plagued pretty much every model, and the inappropriately named ‘autopilot’, which isn’t quite as clever as Musk might have you believe, Tesla still has a firm grip on that crown.
But the door is open for existing car companies to take Tesla’s mantle, and that’s exactly what Porsche has decided to do. The Taycan (that’s pronounced ‘tie-can’, in case you were wondering) is the brand’s first attempt, and what a car it proved to be. Better built than any Tesla, better to look at and better to drive, it was instantly in with a chance. The only issues were a slight lack of practicality and the lack of a reliable, plentiful charging network.
The charging network is not a quick fix – and it may well require some input from governments and the rest of the car industry before it becomes a realistic prospect – but the practicality side of things is much easier to sort. So Porsche built an off-road estate version called the Cross Turismo, which instantly solved the standard car’s problems with rear headroom and made the most of the already plentiful legroom.
Unfortunately, jacking up the suspension and fitting some chunky plastic body cladding didn’t do much for the Taycan’s sporty credentials, and that rather defeated the point. So Porsche took the Cross Turismo back to the workshop, lowered it, removed the cladding and created one of the most beautiful cars on the road today. It’s called the Taycan Sport Turismo, and it’s about as good as electric cars get.
Going back to the height of the standard Taycan has revived some of the sportiness, making the Sport Turismo feel pretty much identical to the saloon car on which it is based. Unless you’re really putting it through its paces, there’s no difference in the way the car corners, accelerates or stops. And even if you do see any change, it’s barely perceptible.
That means the Sport Turismo is absolutely brilliant to drive, despite its slightly numb steering. It’s very nearly as good, in fact, as the 911 sports car. Except it’s faster than the 911, because the first Sport Turismos to arrive in the UK will be the GTS models, which come with two electric motors and a massive 510bhp. Unless, of course, the car is in Sport Plus mode, in which case you get an even more incredible 590bhp. With power heading to all four wheels, the acceleration is instantaneous, and the GTS Sport Turismo gets from 0-62mph in a mere 3.7 seconds. It’s the sort of acceleration that makes overtaking outrageously simple.
And to the outside world, at least, it all happens silently. But inside, Porsche has fitted this strange noise generation system that synthesises an engine sound. The GTS models – both saloon and estate – have their own particular noise, and it’s rubbish. It’s some horrible, hollow cross between a dodgem and an old MG sports car that adds nothing to the experience, apart from a moment’s concern that something might be broken. Fortunately, it only really comes into play in the sportier driving modes, so if you leave those alone you’ll be fine.
Do that and you also unlock the ability to cover more than 300 miles on a single charge.
Officially, the GTS Sport Turismo’s range is rated at 304 miles – only a handful fewer than the equivalent four-door Taycan – but slightly less powerful versions will likely go even further between trips to the plug. If you can find the right plug, charging from 5% to 80% takes less than 25 minutes, but a proper fill-up will take longer thanks to the physics involved in lithium-ion batteries.
Of course, winter weather will mean you can’t do as many miles as the official economy test suggests, but the same is true of any electric car. On my test drive, the car had around 200 miles of range to play with, despite the ever-present lure of that instant acceleration. It really is addictive, and it’s probably the biggest threat to hypermiling in the Taycan.
But the battery isn’t the only bit of tech Porsche has fitted to the Sport Turismo. Like the standard Taycans, it comes with three touchscreens and a digital instrument display, but though they all work very well, that isn’t the impressive bit. Nope, Porsche has fitted a clever glass roof system that can be frosted at the tap of a screen, with liquid crystals in the glass allowing nine different panels to be switched on or off. That means you can frost half the roof or any part of it, depending on what you and your passengers desire. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but with the dark roof lining of the GTS model, it’s one that’s well worth specifying – if only to lighten the mood inside.
Whatever you think of the gimmicks, and whatever trim you choose, the Taycan Sport Turismo is my new favourite electric car. Admittedly, that’s a bit like describing my new favourite serial killer – I don’t really like any of them and I certainly don’t want one in my garage – but the Taycan Sport Turismo, along with the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT and the BMW i4, is one of the few electric cars I might allow onto my drive.
As with any other electric vehicle, the lack of range and charging infrastructure means I’d still need a big petrol or diesel car for long distances, holidays and winter (preferably a Porsche Cayenne or Panamera), but for any journey shorter than about two hours – heading into town, the school run or the commute – the Taycan is perfect. It’s spacious, quiet and luxurious, and if you want a sporty car without the guilt that comes with a massive petrol engine, it’ll fill that brief too.
But if you go for the sportiest driving mode, everything changes. The suspension tightens up, disguising the car’s immense weight more effectively than you might imagine. It’s like the whole car breathes in. And then it unleashes the dogs of war. The V8 sounds like distilled gunfire, and the car accelerates like a two-and-ahalf tonne gazelle with a lion in tow. Getting from 0-62mph takes just 4.5 seconds. And that’s quite something when you’re driving a sort of fourwheeled Blenheim Palace. At full chat, this thing covers ground at 180mph.
But as impressive as the speed may be, it’s the handling that steals the show. Where it feels relaxed and almost sloppy in comfort mode, winding the selector round to its sportier positions suddenly gives the car immediate control of its bulk. Rather than wallowing through corners, it dances through. It’s light on its feet. And the roll you expect from that massive body is kept in check surprisingly well.