2021 Porsche Taycan Does Sensible EV Performance

The future is coming up roses. At least, it is if you choose your new base-model 2021 Porsche Taycan in the same Frozen Berry Metallic paint and Blackberry interior as our test car. Waft like a petal on the breeze, silent and sweet with curving front fenders the color of a bridesmaid’s brunch in front of you and plummy leather all around. This must be what a honeybee feels like in the embrace of a cherry blossom. Imagine how many flowers she could visit with 402 horsepower.

When Porsche introduced the Taycan in 2020, it created some long-awaited, if expensive, competition for Tesla’s Model S. The dual-motor, all-wheel-drive versions of the Taycan—4S, Turbo, and Turbo S—offer time-bending performance and Porsche driving focus, but with a price that starts above $100,000. For 2021, Porsche is offering a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive variant of the Taycan, to be known simply as the Taycan. The just-a-Taycan gets the same rear motor and 71.0-kWh battery as the Taycan 4S and keeps the electrons flowing efficiently through the use of a two-speed transaxle. It shifts! So fun! With a starting price of $81,250, it’s still no cheap date, but in the electric-car arms race, which seems to be headed toward cars so fast their zero-to-60-mph launches cause wormholes, the new entry-level Taycan with its usable amount of power is a welcome chance to catch your breath and give your brainwaves a rest.

The Taycan greets you with a slight smirk. The front vents surrounding its floating LED-matrix headlights meet in an upside-down V, making the car look like it’s wearing dramatic eyeliner or perhaps a tattooed teardrop. It’s a pretty car with a low, sloped front end, a broad-shouldered stance, and the smooth aerodynamic profile of a river rock. Porsche says that the Taycan has a 0.24 coefficient of drag, the slipperiest Porsche on the dealer’s lot. If, like our test car, you opt for the air suspension, the figure drops to 0.22, making it the most aerodynamically efficient car on the market, at least until the updated Model S and Lucid Air make good on their claims of 0.21.

Coefficient of drag is a very specific kind of car nerdy, though. In the more commonly discussed category of horses—how many, how quick—the entry-level Taycan makes 402 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque with launch control activated. If you upgrade to the 83.7-kWh Performance Battery Plus, you’ll get 469 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. But even roughly 200 pounds lighter than the dual-motor versions, the Taycan is still flirting with 5000 pounds. It’s a heavy machine, and 469 horses are only good enough for a claimed 60-mph time of 5.1 seconds and a 13.5-second quarter-mile time. Porsche’s acceleration figures are usually conservative, so when we test the Taycan, we expect it’ll dip just below five seconds in the run to 60 mph. It’s fun to engage launch control and let ‘er loose, but the laws of physics feel fully obeyed. This is not a negative; if you want to wreak havoc on the space-time continuum, there are the other Taycan variants. For the sort of driving you do on public roads while running normal life errands—so, almost all of it—the base Taycan allows you to use its accelerator and performance, making it one of the most enjoyable electric cars available.

Take a moment to stop and smell the flowers—or rather, appreciate all the details you might have missed had we been accelerating any faster. The Taycan sits low, as befits a sports car, but once inside the seating position offers plenty of legroom, and the slim dash wraps around you like a cocktail bar on a starship. The digital instrument cluster still displays information in rounded gauge-like pods, but infotainment and climate controls are housed in touchscreens that stretch across the dash and down the center console, 10.9 inches and 8.4 inches, respectively. There’s even an optional screen for the passenger, should you decide to do a road rally in the Taycan and require your navigator to have easy access to the maps.

Like its more powerful kin, the Taycan is a joy to drive. The seating position is low, but it’s easy to see out. It’ll turn around in parking lots like it’s on a lazy Susan. The handling builds confidence, the steering is precise. It takes minute course corrections like it was expecting them and tacks through corners like a racing sailboat. The optional rear-axle steering helps stabilize and sharpen responses. The Taycan is quiet as a sailboat, too, unless you pay extra for the $500 Electric Sport Sound. If thrums and whirs are something you want in your car, save your money and download a sci-fi special-effects album to your phone instead. You don’t need the soundtrack to remember you’re in an electric car. There are plenty of energy-usage displays to remind you, as well as that lovely low center of gravity and the immediate power.

The Taycan does behave normally when it comes to braking. While it does make use of regenerative braking to charge the battery when you’re slowing down and has two settings for adjusting the amount of regen, the Taycan doesn’t feel like you’re applying the brakes when you lift off the accelerator. If you’re a fan of the one-pedal style of electric car driving that Tesla and others offer, you’ll be disappointed. But on curvy roads, going to the brake provides a sense of familiarity and predictability. The Taycan’s more traditional brake feel is in keeping with Porsche’s focus on making the Taycan a driver’s car more than a science experiment, and using the brakes for regen is more efficient in the real world, if not in the EPA test. Speaking of the EPA, the estimated range is not yet available for the base Taycan model, but with the larger battery pack, we expect it will match or better the 200 miles of the other variants.

Like all Porsches, the Taycan offers a long list of pricey options. Don’t like the clunky standard 19-inch wheels? There are plenty of 20- and 21-inch designs to choose from. Vegan buyers can choose an interior that is completely leather-free, and folks with steep driveways and tight garages can opt for power folding mirrors and the air suspension with its GPS-based nose-lift memory. Certainly, it won’t take long with the configurator to spend every penny of the $7500 federal tax credit that the Taycan qualifies for, but for customers who want an electric Porsche in a usable and relatively affordable spec, the base Taycan strikes us as a stylish and sensible daily driver. Don’t be too sensible, though. Get it in pink.

Specifications

Specifications

2021 Porsche Taycan

VEHICLE TYPE

rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

BASE PRICE

$81,250

MOTOR

permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 402 or 469 hp, 254 or 263 lb-ft; 71.0- or 83.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

TRANSMISSION

2-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 114.2 in

Length: 195.4 in

Width: 77.4 in

Height: 54.9 in

Passenger volume: 88 ft3

Cargo volume: 17 ft3

Curb weight (C/D est): 4700–4900 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)

60 mph: 4.8 sec

100 mph: 9.5–9.8 sec

1/4 mile: 13.3–13.4 sec

Top speed: 143 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)

Combined/city/highway: 84/85–86/82–84 MPGe

Range: 210–240 miles

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