2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.

The luxury electric car space is saturated with the likes of Tesla, Lucid, Polestar, Audi, and Jaguar. But one of the biggest names to recently enter is the Taycan sport sedan, which is, quite literally, the Porsche of EVs. That alone is worth paying attention to.

I'm not typically one to doggedly heap praise on a brand, but I'm making a begrudging exception here. Porsche knows what it's doing. The Porsche 911 is the 911, and the 718 models are modern automotive perfection. Even its compact SUV, the Macan, handles like a sports car way more than it has any right to. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.

My point here is, this is a company that knows how to build a car, and build one well.

The Taycan is Porsche's first attempt at making an EV — a first attempt with all the money and resources that the automotive giant Volkswagen Group can throw behind it. 

If that didn't spoil the review verdict for you already, I will: It's a damn fine first crack.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
From 'Mission E' to 'soul of a spirited young horse'

The Porsche Taycan started life as a concept called the Mission E, which debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Mission E spent the next four years tooling around, sparking rumors and noiselessly touring places like Germany's famed Nürburgring track

Finally, at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, the production version of Porsche's first EV appeared with a Turkish name that roughly translates to "soul of a spirited young horse." Sure!

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
To be extra certain there would be no pronunciation mixups, Porsche even made a video telling us how to say the car's name properly — just like the video it made telling us how to say "Porsche" correctly because certain clowns needed educating.

Currently, there are three versions of the Taycan available: the 4S, the Turbo, and the range-topping Turbo S. Yes, I know neither of those cars are turbocharged. Words mean things until they don't.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
The loaner that Porsche kicked me for a weekend was the 4S. For all intents and purposes, it is the base Taycan model — though from the way it's priced, you wouldn't think so.

It weighs, like, more than two tons

Like a Tesla, the Taycan uses a skateboard design: All of the batteries are located along the floor of the vehicle, which lowers the center of gravity and frees up space for two trunks. System voltage comes to 800 volts instead of the typical 400 volts, which Porsche says cuts charging time, decreases weight, and allows for high performance. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Your entry-level Taycan is the 4S, though calling it "entry level" feels a bit like selling it short. The thing is plenty powerful and fast, with a claimed 562 horsepower from its optional Performance Battery Plus upgrade. Porsche estimates a 0-to-100 km/h sprint to happen in 3.8 seconds with launch control, along with a 250 km/h top speed. 

Charging claims are as follows: When plugged into an AC outlet with 9.6 kW, the 4S takes 9.5 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. A 50-kW DC charger takes 93 minutes from 5% to 80%. A fast-charging DC charger takes 22.5 minutes to charge the car from 5% to 80%.

2020 Porsche Taycan.
Using the EVgo app one night, I found a nearby 50-kW CCS charger. After about 25 minutes of charging, the battery went from 54% to 71%. 

The EPA gives the Taycan 4S with the Performance Battery Plus a range of 327km.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.

What stands out: Warp drive

On paper, Porsche's petrol-powered 911 Turbo S has the Taycan 4S beat. The Turbo S has more horsepower, more torque, a quicker estimated 0-to-100 time. You know the Turbo S is faster. But when you floor the "go" pedal in the Taycan, all that knowledge flies out the window alongside your grasp on reality.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Maybe it's because you have no audible warning that the car is doing what it's about to do. Up until this point, I never realized how much I subconsciously relied on engine noise to brace for acceleration. In the Taycan, acceleration just happens. No warning. No tip-off. 

One second, you're cruising along quietly and the next, you're being shot forward through space-time, fired from what feels like the universe's biggest bowstring. You're warping forward so powerfully you've left your stomach in the previous galaxy. And you, the one with brake pedal access, are the one who controls when the passenger screaming stops. This is a good thing, by the way.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Does it ever get old? Probably! But as far as party tricks go, it's a pretty neat one. 

If you do want some sound, putting the car in Sport Plus mode or activating the "engine" "noise" option will pipe in some artificial motor noise (it sounds like a musical generator). But it still doesn't adequately prepare you for the instant torque. Nothing does until you've done it to yourself a few times.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Unlike in the Polestar 2, I never had complaints about too-light steering in the Taycan. It was always nice and heavy, the smallest of inputs translating to a subsequent wiggle in the nose. Paired with the low center of gravity and the futuristic whee of the motors, the Taycan slingshots in and out of corners with acute, alien-like precision and delight.

From the outside, the car is stunning. Sleek and purposeful, it doesn't look that different from the Mission E concept we first saw five years ago. Mine wore a wonderful coat of Mamba Green Metallic Paint, 21-inch gold Mission E Design Wheels, and a set of carbon-ceramic brakes with yellow calipers. Life is too short for boring cars. Dress mine up like a mobster, please.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
And despite the sloping profile, the back seats offer decent headroom and legroom. My loaner came with only two rear seats, but a third one can be optioned in at an additional cost.

What falls short: Could use a hatch

Inside the Taycan, I could count the number of physical switchgears on one hand. Aside from what was on the steering wheel, the driver's only physical touchpoints were the gear selector lever and the car's on/off button. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
The Taycan's user experience wasn't as hateful as other all-touch setups. Its screens offered a degree of haptic feedback, so you knew if your fingers were actually selecting something without always looking down. 

But even things you expect to have some kind of hard switch do not. The headlight controls, for example, are operated via touchscreen off to the side of the driver information cluster.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
A defining driving characteristic of many EVs is their one-pedal driving capability. It's a fun thing you can do with the accelerator where, after learning to modulate the car's regenerative braking, you can control its forward driving without the use of the brake pedal.

Unfortunately, no Taycan will have one-pedal driving. All regenerative braking will be handled through the brake pedal, according to Autoweek. From what I understand, people have a love/hate relationship with one-pedal driving, so take this news as you will.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Rear visibility is also a bit challenging in the Taycan. The rear window is small, the roofline slopes downward, and the C-pillars are thick. They do not make for easy over-the-shoulder glances.

But I actually saw the Taycan's biggest shortcoming when I parked it next to a Tesla Model S. We were loading up our cars with supplies, the Model S owner and I. The difference was that the Model S's trunk is a hatch. The Taycan's is not. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Anyone who's used a hatch-style trunk knows that they make loading and unloading cargo much easier. It makes all of the trunk accessible, not just the half that's closest to you. And there's more usable vertical room! Hatch all of the sedans, I say.

Competitor comparison

In terms of range, the Taycan unfortunately brings up the rear behind the Tesla Model S (402 miles estimated) and the upcoming Lucid Air (406 miles estimated for the base model).

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
And it is quite expensive. The Taycan 4S starts (starts!) at $103,800 in the US (R1.6 million) and goes all the way up to $185,000 (R2.9 million) for the Turbo S model. At the time of this writing,

it is the most expensive base-model Porsche you can buy — more expensive than the base 911.

Then we get into the options, because it's a Porsche and the options list is longer than a diner menu. Instead of waffles, corned beef hash, and club sandwiches, it's multi-thousand-dollar brake kits and frivolous vanity features. Ready? 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
But as is increasingly the case with EVs, the whole thing comes down to the user experience and brand preference. In the Taycan, you're getting something that's undeniably sporty and finished in that known Porsche way: tight, buttoned down, serious.

When taking my friend for a ride, he jokingly asked if the car had a whoopie cushion feature.

Of course not. This is a car built by adults. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Our impressions: Heavy but planted

Getting into any Porsche product expecting it to be bad is like thinking Lewis Hamilton will lose a race. Kind of like gravity or celestial movement, it's just not something you bet against. The Taycan is no exception. 

There are, of course, a few things that feel a bit half-baked — the rear visibility, for one. Plus, the piped-in fake motor noise is rather gimmicky and at odds with what is otherwise a very serious car. But in terms of feeling quality and driving like a roller coaster, the Taycan absolutely nails it. 

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
Is it worth six figures? I don't know.

But I can tell you this. I liked the Taycan quite a bit. It's not built on an internal-combustion engine platform that's been repurposed for an EV, so there aren't any glaringly obvious passenger or cargo room compromises. Sitting in the back does not give you the distinct feeling that you're astride a battery pack.

The Taycan weighs more than two tons, but it conducts itself like a very planted sports car. The optional rear-axle steering helped with maneuverability in tight spaces. It cruised quietly and smoothly on the highway when it wasn't gluing my passengers to their seatbacks.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
I understand that Porsche positions itself as a top-dollar brand, but I still did a double-take when the Taycan's price was first announced. I might have even used an expletive that rhymes with "duck off." If it's one thing the EV space does not need, it's another six-figure toy priced exclusively for the rich.

Perhaps, though, this is a similar method to Tesla's: Launch the expensive, halo model first to get people excited about the idea and the brand, and then launch the cheaper volume seller.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
It would explain why the Taycan is a sedan rather than an SUV. Up next is most likely the electric Macan, believed to appear in 2022 or thereabouts. But if Taycan hardware makes it over to the Macan EV, then it'll be a considerable package.

For now, though, those who want "the Porsche of EVs" now have one from the brand itself — and it's a pretty good one, at that.

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
2020 Porsche Taycan 4S.
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