FIRST DRIVE | 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo is the pick of the range
Terms like “range anxiety”, “slow charging” and “too expensive” are the ones most readily associated with electric cars, which is why most people don’t bother finding out what a kick they can be to drive.
To someone who’s never driven a battery-powered sports car it’s difficult to explain just how quickly pedal inputs are converted into forward momentum.
An electric motor’s maximum torque is on tap the moment you thrust the throttle. With no revs to build up it delivers a split-second response, and you won’t find terms like “turbo lag” in an EV road test. There are also no gear changes to cause pauses in the power delivery; it’s a seamless surge of pace.
Porsche’s new Taycan Cross Turismo 4S shot off like a champagne cork in a standing start, and then continued thrusting forward in a way that made me want to laugh out loud. The “wows” and “eishes” from the passengers confirmed I was not alone in my sentiments. It felt even quicker than its claimed 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds, and it’s not even the most powerful car in the range.
With 360kW and 650Nm the 4S is the middle model of the recently-launched Cross Turismo, a roomier and more practical wagon version of the Taycan EV. Porsche calls it a crossover and it’s theoretically a more gravel-friendly car with its elevated ground clearance and height-adjustable air suspension, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
This is Porsche's second wagon after the Panamera Sport Turismo. An extended sportback-style roof gives the Cross Turismo not only a more athletic look than the Taycan sedan but also more practicality. There’s more headroom in the large cabin which comfortably takes four adults, and the wagon swallows more luggage — up to 1,212l of luggage with the rear seats flipped down.
The Cross Turismo has SUV-like roominess and practicality without the top-heavy stance. It’s considered a more gravel-friendly Taycan due to its all-wheel drive and air suspension that can be raised to deal with rougher roads.
At the press of a Gravel Mode icon the car lifts to its tallest setting and tweaks the stability control and torque management system for better grip on dirt roads. Optionally it can be fitted with an Off-road Design Package that increases ground clearance by 30mm.
In reality the Cross Turismo is no dirt dueller, at least not with the low-profile tyres fitted to our test car. The sporty tyres caused uncomfortable jarring on gravel, and Cross Turismo owners seeking off-tar adventures will need to fit more sensible rubber.
The low-profile tyres felt much more at home on blacktop, where the car delivered a cushy ride and made a practical daily driver on real-world roads, even on bumps and scars.
In addition to Gravel the car has several other driving modes — Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus — which progressively amp up the adrenaline and drain the battery faster. Sport Plus, along with stiffening the suspension and making up to 420kW of power available on overboost, also generates a sporting petrol-like sound — in contrast to the otherwise discordantly silent high-performance experience.
There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that EVs are expensive in this fledgling electric era, and it will take time for economies of scale and government incentives to reduce prices, but in a short time there have been notable strides made in range and charging times.
The Taycan Cross Turismo 4S claims a range of 388km-452km depending on driving mode, and in many cases this could cover a weekly commute on a single charge. A public DC fast charger will get the vehicle juiced up from 5%-80% within 23 minutes in ideal conditions, while it takes nine hours on an AC home charger.
In terms of its driving dynamics the heavy 2.2-ton car feels impressively light-footed. Much of it has to do with its nanosecond throttle response, but the engineers have also produced a chassis that delivers the sporting prowess of Porsche renown. The big car hunkers down without pitching or squatting under hard acceleration or braking, and changes direction with swift responses and quick steering.
It’s all Porsche, just cleaner and quieter. This is not a car for drivers who find their mojo at 8,500rpm in a howling GT3 RS, but if you can live without the emotive sound, the Taycan is a powerful Porsche that embraces the electric era without feeling watered down, and does justice to the brand’s legacy.
Taycan Cross Turismo — R2,511,00
Taycan Cross Turismo 4S — R2,619,000
Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo — R3,459,00
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