Porsche Taycan RWD review – does Porsche's most basic EV still impress?
Or do you need more motors for the full Taycan experience?
There's a feeling that certain cars are better in their most simple forms. An Alpine A110 is generally said to be more enjoyable than the more powerful and firmer A110S, for example. And the International Consortium of Rust Enthusiasts generally prefers the revvier 1.6-litre engine in the Mk1 Mazda MX-5 over the more powerful 1.8. More isn't always more. Same with diarrhoea.
With that in mind I took Porsche's entry-level Taycan out for a drive to see if it's still got the magic that made the Taycan Turbo S one of my favourite cars of 2020. Watch the video below to find out how I got on or read on for more words. And yes, the car is beige – your screen isn't broken.
What is it?
It's the Taycan. Not the Taycan 4S, Turbo or Turbo S, just plain ol' Taycan. It's the only car of the four versions to use a single motor on the rear axle, rather than a couple of motors powering all four wheels. So yes, it's a rear-drive Porsche, albeit one with a taste for electrons rather than 98 RON and a Touristenfahrten season ticket tucked under its sun visor.
It's still a wonderful shape – it'll be interesting to see if the rear headroom is improved in the Cross Turismo version
Porsche will be first to admit it's rear-drive to keep the price down, not to imbue it with some exotic helmsmithy Gallardo Balboni vibes. And yup, it's the cheapest Taycan on sale at £70,960. For context, the Taycan 4S is £83,580, and the Turbo £115,860, with the Turbo S whacking another £23,000 on top of the Turbo's price. So this rear-drive version is half the price of the Turbo S. Yikes.
The German press car I was driving had a bizarrely huge range of options added, which took the price well into six figures, but the only one that really changed the boggo Taycan experience was the Performance Battery Plus (PBP).
Shorn of options, the Taycan puts out 326hp (408hp with launch control enabled), and that sneaky PBP option takes it up to 380hp (476 with launch control). Range for the basic Taycan with the standard battery is a claimed 268 miles, and PBP takes that to 301 miles.
Is it still fast then?
Not hugely, no. Despite losing a chunk of weight from the lack of front motor, this is still a 2.2-tonne car, so it has a power to weight ratio of something like a Ford Fiesta ST. This is reflected in the 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds, and you certainly won't be blowing people away with off-the-line acceleration. But mid-range punch is still impressive, and you'll get from 50mph to 70mph very quickly indeed.
But the whole point of this car is to give you the rest of the Taycan package at a smaller price – and given how the Taycan Turbo S's handling blew me away, surely that's still here?
Does it handle?
Sort of. The steering definitely feels more connected to the road than in the four-wheel-drive Taycans, and it blows the feel of any other EV into the weeds. It feels very much like a Porsche in the way the accelerator and brake pedal feel as well. So it's a satisfying car to drive quickly down a country road, with understeer a distant speck on the horizon unless you're doing something very silly indeed.
Even on freezing roads the rear-drive Taycan put its power down without any drama whatsoever
You won't get any power oversteer, and it finds impressive traction off the line despite chucking all that torque at the back tyres.
So it's good. But there's a but.
Half the reason the Taycan Turbo S blew me away was its torque vectoring. You could tackle corners and roundabouts at biblically stupid speeds, only for an invisible electronic hand to swivel you around and away from the edge of the road, allowing you to tear roads apart in a way few combustion engined cars can manage.
You just can't get that same level of torque vectoring with just one motor. And as such, much of the Taycan's assisted handling prowess is missing in this entry-level car. So if you can stump up or a 4S or better still, a Turbo, you should.
Ride is plush, and certainly firm enough in sportier modes, but again the car I was driving was on the optional air suspension – it'd be nice to have a go in a Taycan that sits on regular springs. You can adjust the stiffness of the suspension using a touchscreen button on the right-hand-side of the driver's display, so you can have the suspension how you like it regardless of the driving mode you're in. This pleases me greatly.
Is the rest of it any good?
The steering wheel isn't straight. Sorry. The interior's bloody nice though
Yes, and if you're interested in the Taycan for its tech rather than its driving prowess, this is the Taycan you should buy, because it feels exactly like the more expensive ones. The interior's wonderful, although the air-con controls are still a bit of a touchscreen faff. But by-and-large it feels well thought out, and you can customise the digital driver's display to your heart's content.
You can even set the driver's display to show the battery temperature. Tap a charging point into the sat-nav and the car will ensure the battery is at the optimum temperature of 28C when you get there – a degree or two lower and you'll see a much slower charge. This is true of all EV batteries, but it's good to know how to get the battery up to temperature ahead of your arrival.
Is it practical?
For luggage, yes. For people, less so. The back seats are tight if you're over six foot – my head was fairly well rammed into the ceiling, and there's not acres of knee room either. The Taycan Cross Turismo should sort the headroom issue out with its estate-like body. Boot space is 407 litres in the back, and 84 litres under the bonnet – a decent amount.
Should I get one?
Get a 4S or Turbo if you want to be thrilled – otherwise the regular Taycan's a damn fine car
If you're excited by the prospect of ludicrous (sorry) electric power and crap-your-pants cornering wizardry, no. Beg, borrow or steal the money for a Taycan Turbo.
If you just want one of the most well-rounded, well-engineered and tactile EVs on the market, then yes. The basic Porsche Taycan has undoubtedly lost a fair bit of fun in its move to rear-wheel-drive, but if that stuff doesn't bother you, it's now more affordable than ever.
Just don't get it in beige.