The Porsche Taycan 4S: Tesla Killer?
The automotive world is going electric, with more and more automakers jumping on board. For sports cars, this means striking the right balance between ecologically-driven design and pulse-pounding performance. Back in 2015, Porsche had unveiled its own concept for an electric car, codenamed Mission E. That concept was refined into the Porsche Taycan, which made its official road debut in late 2019 with the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S.
While conventional wisdom would dictate that a basic model be introduced and then upgraded to a more powerful one, Porsche opted to take the opposite route, following up the Turbo models with a more scaled back version - the Taycan 4S. The Taycan 4S is essentially Porsche’s answer to the Tesla Model S, with a price point that is comparable to it and very nearly half that of the Turbo S. Granted, it’s not quite fair to compare the two, given that the Tesla was never really built for the track.
A Porsche That Happens to be Electric
Perhaps the simplest way to describe the Taycan 4S is that it isn’t an electric Porsche, rather it is a Porsche that also happens to be electric. It seems like a meaningless distinction, but that distinction is what helps it to stand apart from its competitors. The design is as sleek as you would expect, with its sinuous curves housing a 79.2 kWh Performance Battery that gives you 522 horsepower and can be upgraded to a 93.4 kWh Performance Battery Plus with 562 hp. Going from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, it doesn’t have quite the kick of the Turbo (which manages that feat in 2.6 seconds) or even a Tesla, but it’s more than enough to get your heart racing.
The Taycan 4S features a two-speed transmission, the only electric vehicle in the world to do so. The change in handling between gears is noticeable, a deliberate choice that lends the vehicle a sense of showmanship and gives you a nice shot of adrenaline when you kick it into high gear.
This is all fun enough on the Taycan’s standard drive mode or even its more energy-conscious eco modes, but that sense of dramatic flair shows up again when you go for the more performance-heavy Sports or Sports Plus driving modes. Once you launch into high gear, the car plays spaceship sounds reminiscent of Star Wars through the speakers. This is a car that knows how to have a little fun while being environmentally responsible.
It’s all in the Details
Like all its forebears, the Taycan 4S features little design touches to enhance its sleek silhouette - intakes known as ‘aircurtains’ sit above the front wheels and a three-stage rear spoiler forms part of the Porsche Active Aerodynamics system for a smoother, turbulence-free ride. Inside, you have sporty yet comfortable seats for four (with the option to add a fifth seat at the back) and an amount of legroom that’s just right, but not overly generous. If you’re taller than 6 foot, you don’t want to wind up in the back seats. There are 81 litres of storage behind the front seat, and the boot gives you an additional 366 litres. It’s not the most ideal car for a family vacation, though that likely isn’t the reason you bought a Porsche anyway.
The sporty design of the car is further underscored by an elevated centre console, which makes the seats feel even lower. There are three displays in total - a 16.8-inch instrument panel which curves across the front, a 10.4-inch communication panel that manages audio settings and navigation, and an 8.4-inch central console for media, phone controls and other settings. There is the option for a fourth panel for the front passenger as well. It also has a beautiful futuristic look to it with cool lighting and touch controls. You also have ambient lights throughout the cabin with customisable intensity and colours. The Taycan 4S supports Apple CarPlay, though you’re a bit out of luck if you own an Android device.
On the Road
One of the key features of the Taycan 4S is just how quiet it is. Even in high gear, the engine noise is barely discernible and in fact, other than the Star Wars music at very high speeds, you’re looking at a very quiet ride.
Thanks to active stabilisation and suspension management controls, the car glides over the road no matter what you throw at it. Sharp bends and sudden corners? It will sail through without so much as a jerk. Its standard 19-inch tires grip the asphalt firmly at all times, and the barking system brings you to an immediate halt on command.
A Solid Drive at a Price That’s Just Right
The Porsche Taycan 4S doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of its immediate predecessors. Whereas the standard features on the Turbo and Turbo S include a GT sports steering wheel (which uses a switch on the wheel itself to select driving modes and has an eye-catching design) and seats that can be adjusted 18 ways, these are optional add-ons for the 4S. In terms of acceleration, it won’t be able to catch up with its older siblings either, or even the Tesla S.
However, even the ‘slowest’ of the Porsches is not a car to be taken lightly. It has the classic sporty look, gorgeous high-tech interiors, and it handles like a dream across any type of road with sharp, responsive drive controls. The Tesla might outpace it at first, but after a while, its energy saving mechanisms kick in and dial down the performance. Compared to that, the Taycan 4S will give you repeated and reliable performance without any dampers to hold it back. And you get all of that for a price that puts it in the same bracket as the Tesla. Will it be enough to knock Tesla off the electric vehicle throne? Perhaps not, but that’s not really the point anyway. You’re not buying a Porsche to compete with the other guy, you’re buying a Porsche because it’s a Porsche. And this one just happens to be electric.
All images are courtesy of Porsche.