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2021 Porsche Taycan 4S review: Electric sports sedan with few peers

Porsche rarely delivers a half-baked car, although the 912E and 914 are as close as any whiffs the automaker has made in its history. When it comes to its electric cars, Porsche has been offering hybrids since 2010 and even gone racing with electron powered 911s, so when it comes to the new Taycan, it’s not like the automaker is throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. After our assessment of the more mainstream Taycan 4S, we can agree that when it comes to electric sport sedans, there are few equals.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S exterior

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

The exterior of the Taycan is refreshingly close to the Mission E concept that preceded it, save for the suicide doors. It’s flat and wide, with proportions (and a center of gravity) that brings to mind something a bit more exotic rather than a four-door sedan. The doors use a frameless design, much like a modern sports car, and retractable door handles which makes the profile look even cleaner. Add to that, the retractable spoiler, and it’s like everything in the Taycan can tuck in or expand as needed. The design is still fresh, and our light blue example gained plenty of inquisitive looks and approving thumbs-up from kids and bystanders.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S interior

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

If you want nothing but screens in your electric sports sedan then the Taycan has you covered. I count four screens in our 4S model, including an optional one for the passenger, so they can get navigation, media, and trip information without bothering the driver for such details (which sounds anti-social). I like the digital gauge cluster, which isn’t too overloaded with data and information. It also isn’t overly flowery, with distracting and elongated animations between every little thing you do. It’s almost minimalist, with the bare bones of a gauge cluster, but one that is more descriptive due to the digital layout.

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

The infotainment screen is perfectly OK, but the screen mounted below for controlling the HVAC and audio volume takes a bit of getting used to. Somehow, the gear selector and power button seem imperfectly located right behind the steering wheel, leaving me to search or clumsily feel around for them every time I need to use them. Fortunately, the vehicle turns on as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat, which helps remove one of those interactions.

The seats in the 4S were unique, featuring a leather-free upholstery, helping to boast Porsche’s sustainability efforts for customers in this new eco-friendly segment. They looked fine and felt as supportive and comfortable as any other Porsche I’ve tested. Free of butts, they may not look as sexy as tanned hide, but that’s a perception that will change as attractive leather-free options like these become more prevalent. Finally, the standard fixed glass roof provides that extra wow factor.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S infotainment and tech

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

That customizable 16.8 digital gauge cluster is easy to use and accessible, allowing you to change the items on it through the scroll wheels and buttons on the steering wheel. There is a map view and a minimalist view in addition to the standard three-pod setup. The 10.9-inch infotainment system is found in the center of the dashboard and features an internet connection for more up-to-date data. There is also Apple CarPlay support through USB-C ports in the armrest. Beneath the central display is an 8.4-inch control screen for HVAC settings, trunk and frunk opening, shortcuts for the infotainment screen, and audio volume controls. I struggled when changing temperature and fan speeds, as you can tap the on-screen arrows, or slide your finger between them, but it felt far from precise. Furthermore, changing airflow is an involved process that seemed distracting while on the road. Finally, an extra 10.9-inch screen is found for the passengers, giving them much of the same options and information as the central infotainment screen, but with some additional options from the gauge cluster, so they can see how fast you’re going.

As impressive as it all sounds, the screens can provide an extra layer of distraction. Fortunately, the Taycan offers plenty of driver assistance technology, which is quite reliable and easy to use. The adaptive cruise control has excellent range, detecting cars well ahead of your gap setting, and will smoothly brake to match their speed. The lane-keeping isn’t aggressive or overbearing, providing subtle corrections as needed. Blind-spot warning indicators are bright and visible even in poor weather, and the camera array that assists with parking even zooms and changes perspectives to provide a better view of where you’re heading.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S recharging

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

The Taycan 4S is available with two battery options: standard models get the 79.2 kWh battery known as the Performance Battery, which hasn’t been given a range estimate by the EPA, while the optional Performance Battery Plus in our tester is a whopping 93.4 kWh and returns 203 miles.

Using a 9.6 kW AC charger, it will take 9.5 hours for the standard battery to recharge, while the Performance Battery Plus will take 10.5 hours. Using a DC fast charger, it will take 93 minutes to recharge from 5 to 80 percent using a 50 kW rate, while the wild (and rare) 270 kW chargers will do the trick in just 22 and a half minutes.

Like the Audi e-tron, there are two charge ports on the Taycan, one designed for fast chargers and one for home chargers, located on either side of the vehicle. Unlike the e-tron, these ports aren’t motorized.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S driving and performance

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

The real treat of any Porsche isn’t the interior or exterior design, or even the tech-specs, but the actual driving. Even the dullest models from the Stuttgart based automaker are imbued with some sense of driving joy, and let me tell you, the Taycan is far from dull. This 4S can sprint to 60 mph in just 4 seconds thanks to an overboost feature that amps up the electric motors for a limited time. Depending on the battery equipped, the 4S features different outputs. Standard models feature 429 horsepower with a bump up to 522 ponies through the overboost feature, while models equipped with the Performance Battery Plus feature 482 horsepower and get a jump to 562 horsepower when the overboost kicks in. Yet, there are faster Taycan models than the 4S, even though this one delivers speed in such a satisfying manner.

About that overboost feature, it typically triggers during launches but also enhances full throttle when already at speed, helping to deliver that thrill of acceleration at any time. Overboost is limited to just about 2.5 seconds, a short but effectivetime frame.

While speed and performance are typical of vehicles with these kinds of batteries and motors, the Taycan separates itself from the crowd by being surprisingly nimble and enjoyable to pilot from corner to corner. Despite its 4,954 lb curb weight (which is more than a Cayenne, by the way,) the vehicle never feels too bloated to make a sharp turn. Responsiveness is excellent, body roll is limited, and the enthusiast will be pleased. Four-wheel-steering helps to make the vehicle feel even more nimble in tighter areas and more stable at higher speeds, while an air suspension system allows the Taycan to feel composed and smooth, which is a rare feat for sporty cars designed to be stiff and responsive.

This is exactly how a sedan, built by the same folks behind the iconic 911, should feel like. and it’s even more exciting when the thrust is provided by instant-on high-performance electric motors.

One final thing to discuss is the range. The EPA rates the Taycan 4S at a maximum of 203 miles. Something isn’t quite right with this figure, as the Taycan seems capable of delivering at least 20 percent more range (to be conservative) than what the EPA suggests. Using the Range driving mode caps the speed limit at 70 MPH and adjusts the HVAC settings to preserve battery life. The issue is every little action you take impacts the range indicator. Change the temperature or fan setting, and the range instantly drops. Put your foot down to pass a trucker on the highway, and the distance-to-empty figure plummets. Every little action seems to tank the range estimate, but not the actual battery percentage. Whatever algorithm adjusts the range indicator on the gauge cluster seems hyperactive and very conservative, adding to any potential range anxiety you may have Drivers should use the battery percentage to determine how much range they have left and have used, rather than the constantly changing number on the dash.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S practicality

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

With 14.3 cubic feet in the trunk and 2.8 cubes in the frunk, the Taycan is spacious enough for your groceries and cargo. The rear seats even fold for managing more awkward items. The rear seats are not the most accommodating as legroom is just acceptable, while headroom is a bit limiting for adults. The front seats are plentiful, allowing the Taycan to excel as an electric grand tourer.

2021 Porsche Taycan 4S pricing and incentives

The Taycan 4S is the most affordable version of Porsche’s electric sedan, featuring a starting price of $103,800. Those looking for the extra range will have to drop an extra $6,580 for the Performance Battery Plus. Our tester included an additional 30,000 of equipment leading to a total price of $142,960 that includes $1,350 for delivery. Buyers should be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit.

Final verdict

Photo credit: Sami Haj-Assaad / EV Pulse

Many will laugh at the advertised range of 203 miles and forget the rest of the elements that make the Taycan feel special. Admittedly, I was caught off guard by the touch-screen oriented cabin and the flip-flopping nature of the range indicator. The eye-catching exterior and high-quality interior along with the incredible performance and responsiveness mean the Taycan feels every bit a Porsche as any of its other cars. That means the sedan is thrilling to drive and capable of satisfying any speed needs you have while drawing the envy of others on the road, even Tesla fans.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Porsche
  • Model: Taycan 4S
  • Type: 4-Door Sedan
  • Horsepower: 483 hp to 562
  • Torque: 479
  • EV range: 203
  • Pros: Extremely fast, satisfying agility, smooth ride
  • Cons: Inconsistent range indicator, awkward button placement, touch screen dominated interface
  • Base price: $103,800
  • Price as tested: $142,960
Written by Sami Haj-Assaad
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