Porsche Taycan 4S review: The 490hp electric sports saloon delivers a monstrous punch and plenty of German soul

By Daryl Lee 9 December, 2020

It may be electric, but it’s a Porsche to the core

On the surface of things, the Taycan breaks just about every rule in the Porsche purists’ rulebook. For starters, it’s electric, which should already be enough to get some of them up in arms, but it also does away with the centrally-mounted analogue rev counter (supplanted by a frankly gorgeous freestanding, 16.8-inch curved display), a feature on all Porsches since time immemorial and a reminder of the marque’s race-bred heritage. 

But the more important question is, does it all really matter? Is the absence of a needle arcing its way around a dial in time with the volume climbing enough to take away from a car’s intrinsic ‘Porsche-ness’? That is to say, whether a car can make even the most mundane drive feel like an occasion, and the special drives truly epic?

The answer to the first question, replied to in emphatic fashion by the Taycan, is a resounding “no”. The lack of an internal combustion engine (preferably a flat-six) with all its attendant vibrations and noise will certainly be missed, but what the Taycan does is replace it with a no-less-thrilling digital soundtrack, the Porsche Electric Sport Sound.   

It sounds incredibly contrived, and to be fair it is, but it’s fitting on the Taycan. It takes the noise from the electric drivetrain, amplifies it, and pipes it in the cabin through the speakers. And it’s not a flat drone either – the electric engine note changes in pitch and modulation as revs climb, just like on a ‘real’ Porsche.

Now, this might seem trite, but from simulator runs with its endurance racing drivers, Porsche found that aural cues were a key ingredient in engagement. 

Apart from that, the Taycan handles as a Porsche should, which is exceptionally well. Unlike many other electric cars that feel bottom-heavy (owing to the batteries being mounted under the floor), the Taycan feels far more neutral. Needless to say, the amount of mechanical grip its all-wheel-drive electric powertrain produces is phenomenal, and the poise it exhibits is world-beating. 

Straight-line pace, too, is neck-snappingly good. Its two electric motors located at each axle produce a total of 490hp (571hp for short bursts) and it’ll complete the 0-100km/h sprint in four seconds dead. Not too shabby for a car that weighs 2,220kg, and for a model that nominally sits in the middle of the Taycan heap, with the monstrous 761hp Taycan Turbo S crowning the range. 

The Taycan’s electric range is decent as well, going up to a claimed 463km with the Performance Battery Plus. Granted, that’s a fairly pricey option at $26,536, but even if you stick with the standard Performance Battery, you’ll get a still-very-useful 407km range. And you’ll really have to careful with those optional extras, because they can add up pretty fast on the Taycan.

You know, just like on any other Porsche. But the Taycan is not a Porsche of the old school, it’s a brave new Porsche for a brave new (electrically-powered) world.

PRICE: From $485,988 (excluding COE, excluding options)
GO: A true Porsche in every sense of the word
NO GO: Still won’t please the traditionalists