From the November 2021 issue of Car and Driver.
What’s the difference? It’s the question buyers face when sifting through a car’s various models. For a car like the Porsche 911, spending more money yields an obvious improvement in handling, appearance, and engine character. But when it comes to the $87,030 Porsche Taycan Performance Battery Plus (PBP) and the $186,350 Taycan Turbo S, the only real distinction is acceleration.
Stomping the accelerator leads to two very different experiences in these EVs. The 469-hp Taycan PBP hits 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, while the 750-hp Turbo S nearly halves that time with 2.4 seconds of neck strain. (The absolute lowest-rung Taycan has 402 horses, a smaller battery, and an $81,250 price.) But when you’re not using the Turbo S’s extra power, that car rides, looks, and acts just like a base Taycan with a few key options. Also, the Taycan PBP’s 4.7 seconds to 60 and 12.9-second quarter-mile aren’t exactly slow, even if they’re behind most of the premium-EV competition.
The base car we drove in L.A. came with 20-inch wheels ($2380), air suspension with adaptive dampers ($2200), and four-wheel steering ($1620). It enjoyed the same refined isolation and sharp steering as the Turbo S. No matter how you spec them, the solid structure is identical, and the battery in the floor puts a thick layer of insulation between the driver and the road. The PBP car even has more range, 280 miles at 75 mph by our measure. The Frozen Berry Metallic Taycan that provided our test numbers lacked all the chassis upgrades, but even then wasn’t too far off the feel of the Turbo S.
Interior trim differs, but common to both are a modern design and a floating digital instrument cluster. Unfortunately, similarities extend to the obtuse infotainment system that makes finding some settings—such as how to stop the seat from moving whenever you switch off the car—a snipe hunt. Best practices call for storing your preferred configuration to a memory setting and using Apple CarPlay to avoid the native software.
At the track, the lesser car can’t match the Turbo S in terms of skidpad and braking numbers, but on the street and even in the canyons, it won’t fall too far behind. While it lacks the option of active anti-roll bars and only the rear wheels are driven, the 4820-pound Taycan PBP is 426 pounds lighter than the Turbo S. A lot of that mass is low in the vehicle, giving the driver the sensation that the car is tethered to a cable in the center of the earth.
No one ever wonders what the extra cash spent on a 911 GT3 buys after sending its tach to 9000 rpm. A high-strung naturally aspirated flat-six sounds, acts, and pulses differently from a base 911’s turbo six. In the Taycans, supercar-versus-sports-car acceleration is really the only differentiator. We love a good drag race, but it’s just one part of the experience. The challenge to EV makers will be to offer something more than just thrust. Until that happens, we’d be more than happy with a base Taycan.
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