The 2021 Porsche Taycan is a mid-size pure-electric sport sedan with seating for up to five passengers. It was introduced as an all-new model for the 2020 model year, making history as Porsche’s first all-electric vehicle. There are only minor changes – primarily software updates – for 2021. The four-door is offered in six different models with progressively stronger performance levels. Taycan offers rear-wheel drive in the base models and all-wheel drive in all others. Range is upwards of 280 miles with the largest battery. The 2021 Porsche Taycan starts at about $80,000.
Porsche introduced its Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. This show car evolved into today’s Taycan, which explains the production vehicle’s sleek styling, aggressively low stance, and unique air intake/headlight treatment – it is unmistakably eye-catching.
Aerodynamics play a key role in the fuel efficiency, so the Taycan cheats the wind with a low 0.22 coefficient of drag, making it one of the sleekest vehicles on the road. Of course Porsche could have made the Taycan even slicker, but the company’s engineering objectives required strong driving performance, dictating wide tires and other features to assure stability at speeds up to 165 mph – these details come at the expense of increased wind resistance.
(The vehicle in our photos is a Taycan 4S in Frozen Blue Metallic paint.)
The Taycan is a sleek, low-slung, sport sedan. Climbing into the vehicle requires passengers to duck their heads more than usual, but once inside the cabin it is comfortable for four six-foot tall adults. (Customers may choose four- or five-passenger configurations.)
The materials (leather-free Race-Tex in our test vehicle) are beautifully crafted and the cabin is luxuriously appointed – seating comfort is excellent in both rows. Outward vision is good from the front seats, but the view to the rear quarters is partly obstructed by thick rear pillars. And the driver’s view through the rearview mirror is reduced by half (horizontally) due to the sloped rear glass. Rear seat passengers will also note that their view outside is restricted by the same sloping roof.
Primary instrumentation is displayed on a multi-function curved digital screen, with several other flat-panel touchscreens within the cabin. The look and feel are futuristic and modern – evocative of a spacecraft. Unfortunately, the button-free layout is confusing to those not familiar with the vehicle. Some of the controls, such as the climate control vents, are downright maddening to operate even with familiarization.
There are USB-C charging ports in both rows of seating and the rear seats fold (40/60 or 40/20/40 depending on rear passenger configuration) to increase the capacity of the trunk. As is customary with electric vehicles, there is also a small “frunk” at the nose for more storage.
Porsche offers a comprehensive assortment of powertrains for the Taycan. The standard model has a single motor driving the rear axle through an innovative two-speed gearbox. The 4S, Turbo, and Turbo S models have an additional motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed gearbox. Furthermore, the automaker offers two different battery capacities (79.2 kWh and 93.4 kWh). Porsche mixes and matches motors, batteries, and output to produce six unique powertrains.
Note: Porsche uses the word “turbo” in the model names, even though none of the Taycan models have a physical turbocharger (electric vehicles don’t use pressurized intake air to develop power). Despite the potential for confusion, the automaker has chosen to use the word “turbo” to define its most powerful offerings – this is a marketing move, not an engineering specification.
Taycan models are rated for “standard” and “launch control” power outputs – we have listed the larger number in brackets for each. The EPA range ratings are not particularly accurate, so we have used real-world numbers based on our driving experience.
The standard Taycan is rear-wheel drive with a 79.2 kWh battery powering a single electric motor (402 hp/254 lb-ft of torque). The Taycan with Performance Battery Plus features a larger 93.4 kWh battery and more power (469 hp/263 lb-ft of torque). The 0-60-mph sprint should take just under 5.0 seconds and the real-world range should be about 230 – 270 miles, depending on the battery capacity.
The Taycan 4S is all-wheel drive with a 79.2 kWh battery powering a motor on each axle (522 hp/472 lb-ft of torque, combined). The Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus features a larger 93.4 kWh battery and more power (562 hp/479 lb-ft of torque, combined). The 0-60 mph sprint should take about 3.5 seconds and the real-world range should be about 230 – 270 miles, depending on the battery capacity.
The Taycan Turbo is all-wheel drive with a 93.4 kWh battery powering a motor on each axle (670 hp/626 lb-ft of torque, combined). The Taycan Turbo S features the same 93.4 kWh battery, but even more power (750 hp/774 lb-ft of torque, combined). The 0-60 mph sprint should take between 2.5 and 3.0 seconds – these models are some of the quickest production vehicles on the road – and real-world range should be about 230 miles.
Thanks to its innovative 800-volt architecture, the Taycan is able to fast-charge (270 kW) from 5 to 80% just over 20 minutes. Those with Level 2 chargers at home/office – an obligatory part of ownership – will be able to charge the Taycan from “empty” to 100% in about 10 hours and likely never need to visit a public charger outside of a rare 250-plus mile road trip.
There are several user-selected drive modes that control how the Taycan operates. “Range” mode is the most efficient, with the softest suspension settings and no energy regeneration during coasting. The sedan glides effortless when the accelerator is lifted, and maximum speed is capped at 80 mph. This mode maximizes distance traveled on a single charge. “Sport Plus” is the most aggressive, with firm suspension settings, noticeable energy regeneration, and maximum responsiveness from the accelerator pedal. “Normal” is a no-compromise setting in the middle that delivers the best of both extremes.
Acceleration is neck-snapping. Electric motors deliver torque immediately, and, thanks to the unique two-speed gearbox, the power delivery doesn’t fall off as speeds increase. The Taycan is fast and reactive. Accelerator response is instantaneous.
Porsche allows the operator to accompany acceleration with an audible note. The sound is futuristic – Gen-Xers will say it reminds them of the Tron Light Cycle sound – and it is perceptible both inside and outside of the vehicle (passers-by turn their heads when the Taycan passes). The sound may be disabled or set to only operate in specific modes.
The vehicle’s chassis is vault-like, and the ride is exquisitely well controlled and comfortable. Toss the Taycan into a corner and it handles like a sports car – the vehicle’s center of gravity is literally just above the pavement – with a bit of oversteer with sharp jabs of the accelerator. The all-wheel drive system is extremely sophisticated. It offers digital control of torque and power distribution, so the four-door puts its power down without any drama (ESC works much faster on an EV than it does on a combustion vehicle, so wheelspin is negligible). Steering weight, feedback, and responsiveness is perfect. However, braking feels a bit synthetic – a seemingly unavoidable flaw with EVs, as the braking system switches between regeneration and physical calipers.
Porsche offers six different models of the Taycan sport sedan:
- Taycan (starts at about $80,000) – Base model with rear-wheel drive, single motor, 79.2 kWh battery, 19-inch wheels
- Taycan with Performance Battery Plus (starts at about $86,000) – Base model with rear-wheel drive, single motor, 93.4 kWh battery, 19-inch wheels
- Taycan 4S (starts at about $104,000) – All-wheel drive, air suspension, dual motors, 79.2 kWh battery, 19-inch wheels
- Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus (starts at about $110,000) – All-wheel drive, air suspension, dual motors, 93.4 kWh battery, 19-inch wheels
- Taycan Turbo (starts at about $151,000) – All-wheel drive, air suspension, dual motors, 93.4 kWh battery, 20-inch wheels
- Taycan Turbo S (starts at about $185,000) – All-wheel drive, air suspension, dual motors, 93.4 kWh battery, 21-inch wheels
If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Taycan on the Porsche official web site.
The Taycan glides down the road extraordinarily well. Set the adaptative air suspension to default mode and the ride is as supple and plush as a luxury car, yet without wallowing or uncontrolled body movements. Spin the dial to SPORT+ and the dampers immediately firm and body roll is virtually eliminated – the sedan corners like a world-class sports coupe. We’ve never experienced such competent levels of ride adaptability. Credit goes to an ultra-stiff chassis, well-engineered suspension design and Porsche’s 50-plus years of experience building vehicles.
The entry-level rear-wheel-drive-only Taycan has the most attractive price, but we are drawn to the more powerful all-wheel drive Taycan 4S model with Performance Battery Plus. Fast and powerful, it is equipped with the larger battery pack (up to 275 miles of range) and air suspension that makes the ride very comfortable. We suggest adding the Premium Package, for its convenience upgrades, and the Performance Package for its driving enhancements. Expect to spend about $125,000.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan is equipped with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and audible parking sensors as standard equipment. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and night vision are some of the optional safety features.
Due to its low production volume, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not crash-tested the Porsche Taycan. However, the vehicle has been tested in Europe where the Porsche Taycan earned a 5-Star rating in Euro NCAP crash testing.
Porsche is targeting its core audience with the Taycan – people pursuing a high-performance vehicle with world-class driving dynamics and peerless performance. While zero-emission all-electric propulsion is certainly a significant part of the ownership experience, the Taycan is not targeting those seeking an electrified appliance with a spartan interior and hands-free cruising. This Porsche, like the other vehicle’s in the automaker’s lineup, is engineered for a driving enthusiast.
There are numerous other EVs on the market that are less expensive, roomier, and offer greater range than the Porsche Taycan, but none are as hyper-focused on driving engagement and passenger luxury. Rising above other automakers who deliver EVs that drive like street legal golf carts, Porsche has overengineered the Taycan to the nth degree – notwithstanding its all-electric powertrain, the Taycan is a world-class sport sedan with premium luxury and unsurpassed driving dynamics.
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(All photography by Michael Harley.)