► Off-road Taycan driven
► Allroad-style version adds ride height and a bigger boot
► 4S, Turbo and Turbo S models tested
If you looked at Porsche’s literature you might assume that the company is allergic to the ‘estate’ word. Admittedly ‘estate’ is a divisive term. For some it evokes pragmatic practicality, while for others it’s a synonym for beige.
Whatever your thoughts, you can see why Porsche needed to create a Taycan for ‘off the beaten track’. The eye-watering R&D spend needs amortising and, what’s more, in the UK, the Taycan’s become Porsche’s best-selling car.
Launched initially as a Mission E-inspired four-door coupe, in Turbo or Turbo S guise, the Taycan has now flourished into a range, with more affordable rear- and all-wheel-drive Taycans beneath the headline models and now this – quasi-Allroad Cross Turismo. A GTS model, the first Taycan to offer over 300 miles of range, has just arrived, as has a Sport Turismo bodystyle – think Cross Turismo, but without the cladding or raised suspension.
A pretty faithful production version of 2018’s Mission E Cross Turismo concept, the Cross Turismo bodystyle is available with a range of powertrain options that mirror the standard car’s with the exception of the entry-level machine. Quite logically, we won’t see a rear-wheel-drive Cross Turismo.
Unlike with 911s, Porsche will actually charge you more for more with the Taycan. So Cross Turismos are pricier than regular Taycans. 4S Cross Turismos are about £4k more than the saloons, but Turbo and Turbo Ss are about a grand more. For a bit of comparison – the Panamera Turbo S is about £4.5k less than a Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S.
What difference does the Cross Turismo bit make?
As well as the fundamentally more practical (and prettier?) bodystyle, the Cross Turismo version brings a few soft-roading niceties. If you tick the off-road design package you’ll get a gravel mode. The regular Cross Turismo is 20mm higher than a Taycan, but this off-road package gives it another 10mm of ride height courtesy of this gravel mode.
It isn’t found on the Porsche driving mode selector on the steering wheel, but instead on a haptic feedback button on the screen closest to your legs. Porsche engineers (and marketeers) imagine Norwegian (big electric market) buyers pursuing outdoor lifestyles with this mode, but the truth is Brits will want it for getting down rutted tracks to golf clubs. We tried that, and it worked a treat. You can feel the suspension rebound lightly in huge holes we wouldn’t dream of driving into in a regular Taycan.
The difference is bigger than you’d credit, given the numbers, though millimetres clearly matter in chassis engineering (BMW’s new CS version of the M5 sits just 7mm lower than the standard car). Behind the wheel it helps this Taycan feel more Macan than 911 in terms of visibility and hip-point height, and while purists will scoff, for most this will feel like the more comfortable, usable and confidence-inspiring car.
Are those power figures real?
They are. Turbo S cars get a faintly ridiculous 750bhp and 774lb ft on overboost, and 616bhp in regular modes. Zero to 62mph in less than 3.0sec – same as the M5 CS and McLaren Artura – and 0-100mph in 6.5sec. In a family car with a proper boot…
As you’d imagine, cheaper cars get less power. The Turbo S makes do with 616bhp/671bhp while the 4S gets 483bhp/560bhp. The regular car has 375bhp/469bhp.
While the novelty of very, very fast battery-electric cars may have worn off long ago, it’s worth just taking a moment to salute the faintly ludicrous turn of speed the Taycan enjoys. The launch control, where the overboost power figures come in, is easy to engage. Sport +, hold down brake and accelerator, wait for the screen to say launch mode, then lift off brake and smash accelerator. What’s hard is keeping up with it mentally.
We’ve tried the 4S more recently and can’t fathom how you’d want anything faster. Even if you stay away from the fancy modes and temporary boosts of extra power, this is still a near-500bhp car that’ll run to 62mph in under five seconds. It means anything, be it overtakes on a B-road or getting up to speed from a motorway slip road, are dispatched long before you – let alone your passengers – were expecting. And compared to the Turbo, you’ll be saving £30k too.
The Cross Turismo is likely to give very little away in terms of straight-line speed to the standard Taycan, and the cause-and-effect of flooring the throttle, even at speed, remains startling. Response, given there are no engine internals or turbo turbines to wait for, is predictably instantaneous. If the twin e-motors (the rear unit driving via a two-speed ’box, remember, with a shorter initial ratio optimised for launch acceleration) are at all bothered by the car’s near 2.5-tonne weight, they internalise that particular gripe very well.
Fortunately the calibration of the braking system – its two levels of regen (selectable via a button on the steering wheel) and the seamless manner in which it hands over from negative e-motor torque to actual pad-on-ceramic-disc braking – is flawless. The system is entirely unaffected by the weather (even standing water), wildly powerful, endlessly sensitive and operated by a pedal so sweetly calibrated that almost imperceptible fluctuations in pressure are the order of the day, not big dumb movements of a rubbery pedal. This car without them doesn’t bear thinking about.
Lateral flow test
At the Taycan’s world premiere Porsche’s chairman, Oliver Blume, said it was to be the company’s first all-electric sports car. Despite the big boot, increased ride height, and stellar rear space, the Cross Turismo is still a car that errs on the side of sport.
Helping silence purist’s scoffing is the fact that, far from being a floaty oddball, the Cross Turismo actually feels like the optimum solution a lot of the time. Firing it across many of the same roads last encountered in a ‘normal’ 4S Taycan, any loss of performance through the elevated centre of gravity is almost impossible to discern.
What this also means is that the ride is hard. Intriguingly there’s no comfort mode. Only ‘regular’. Even with the suspension at its highest it’s fidgety at low speeds. Not enough to make you think twice about flooring it, but just enough to be a slight annoyance.
Still, that extra ride height comes in handy. While the standard Taycan asks you to adapt your speed and line to prevent its chin regularly striking lumpen tarmac, the Cross Turismo asks to be cut no such slack, bounding along even rough roughs at the kind of unchecked speed fast SUVs specialise in but, crucially, without their sense of lofty detachment.
Body control, grip, steering precision and the delicate calibration of the stability-control system all conspire to make this one of the fastest and, perversely, easiest cars you could ever have the pleasure of driving. So flattering as to feel like cheating, certainly compared to having to flog a manual gearbox or give traction a second thought, the Turbo S Cross Turismo’s ballistic competence would be intimidating were it not so startlingly accessible.
The 4S felt just as capable. On optional 21-inch wheels there’s still a firmness there, though not as much as the Turbo S, but it’s the flow over undulating back roads that impresses. A combination of the sheer weight (75kg less than a Turbo S, but still over 2.2 tonnes) that almost steamrollers the surface smooth, how low that battery weight is located, and the extended suspension travel means it can be driven with the same freedom as a good hot hatch.
And when you’re not charging around?
The Taycan’s is a comfortable, uncluttered and classy cabin, and the Cross Turismo changes little bar that increase in rear-seat headroom (+47mm according to Porsche) and a neat little compass atop the dash rather than the standard car’s clock. The HMI is primarily touch-based but the screens are simple and there’s haptic feedback, so inputs rarely descend into a frustrating prod-fest.
The curved glass driver’s display is also a point of interface, offering touch controls for functions such as suspension set-up and stability control setting, while the steering wheel carries the usual Porsche drive mode selector. Handily you can also mix and match these, choosing – for example – the Sport Plus drive mode with more pliant damper settings.
Keeping an eye on remaining range is easy enough too, and likely to be a preoccupation on very long journeys (the highest official range of the models is the base model, with an official range of 242-283 miles until the GTS model arrives in the UK). Perhaps unsurprisingly (Porsche’s combustion-engined cars aren’t famous for their efficiency either) the Taycan is not the most efficient EV out there, likely a product of its performance bias and elements of its detail engineering. Over 50 miles in the Turbo S we lost 29% of the battery’s charge, and showed a miles-per-kWh average of around 1.3.
While both these numbers are disappointing, pointing to a range of more like 170 miles (our long-term Jaguar i-Pace typically managed more than 2 miles per kWh), they’re also pretty unrepresentative, with plenty of heavy throttle usage and very little sustained cruising. Take 170 miles as a worst-case scenario, with 200 miles or more without too much restraint/effort. With the 4S, we were closer to 1.8 miles-per-kWh, but still never saw more than 200 miles when fully charged.
And if the range – or lack thereof – might put you off this being a practical family car, it’s not a cavernous estate either. The boot’s just about fine, but the rear doors are short so loading kids in isn’t that easy. And upfront, the central tunnel rather impinges upon left-knee space; it’s not an issue in left-hand drive models as there’s plenty of room besides the door, but in the UK, if you want to rest your idle peg on the footrest it’ll poke your knee up near the steering wheel and the PNR control.
It’s a beautifully made car. Everything has been thought of – there’s even a novel wireless charging pouch in the armrest holder that prevents you looking at your phone.
Practical too, thanks to the biggish boot. Sensible charging times, and decent range add to this. As does its ‘range mode’ for everyday use in the city.
If you’re buying a Taycan because it’s effectively a more practical electric 911, the Cross Turismo shouldn’t distract you. You pay more for one and, if it’s a sports car-esque driving experience you’re after – bum on the floor – the Cross Turismo’s additional ride height, weight and practicality make no sense.
But for most this is now surely the Taycan bodystyle to go for, given its combination of increased versatility with few obvious compromises. In Turbo S guise it’s both phenomenal and phenomenally expensive – the 4S Cross Turismo, with its sweeter combination of price and performance, is likely to be the one to go for.
As a do-all electric sports car it’s brilliant. As an estate car it’s more flawed. But, this isn’t an estate car.
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