2020 Porsche Taycan 4S is more sensible yet still damn good

2020 Porsche Taycan 4S is more sensible yet still damn good

Typically, Porsche launches a new model in base form before bringing out the big guns. Not so for the company’s first-ever electric vehicle, the Taycan. Porsche is building that lineup from the top down, releasing the seriously powerful (and questionably named) 670-hp Turbo and 750-hp Turbo S before the more reasonably priced and less powerful Taycan 4S. But as is the case with Porsche’s gas-powered models, the 4S is hardly a watered-down version of the top Taycans. It can stand on its own.

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a car driving on a road: The Turbo and Turbo S models were important for establishing the Taycan EV's performance cred, but the 4S is no slouch.© Porsche The Turbo and Turbo S models were important for establishing the Taycan EV’s performance cred, but the 4S is no slouch.

The key difference between the 4S and the Turbo models is power, as it has a less potent rear electric motor. (The front motor is the same across all Taycans, and the Turbo S has a beefier inverter.) The 4S makes a total of 522 horsepower with its base 79.2-kWh battery pack and 563 horses with the optional one, the 93.4-kWh Performance Battery Plus. While it might not shove you back in your seat with quite as much force as the Turbos do, the 4S didn’t leave us wanting for more grunt during our drive on the Angeles Crest Highway in Southern California.

a car parked on a city street: Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch© Porsche Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch

Acceleration is brisk, and responses to your right foot are prompt. Porsche claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds for the 4S. That’s a ways behind the 2.6-second claim for the Turbo S (and hardly worth bragging about if you’re comparing it to Teslas), but it’s still plenty quick. The two-speed gearbox—a feature exclusive to the Taycan in today’s EV space—provides a satisfying shift when you’re accelerating hard. Porsche says it could’ve made this shift near imperceptible to the driver but decided against it. We appreciate that decision, because it’s a fun a-ha moment to feel the car kick into high gear, literally. We even found a strange sort of pleasure in the Star Wars–esque fake soundtrack that permeates the cabin when you put the car in its most aggressive driving mode, Sport Plus.

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Good to Start, Better with Options

The Taycan 4S comes standard with 19-inch wheels, whereas the Turbo S comes with big 21-inchers. This being a Porsche, though, all manner of options are available so that you can make your 4S appear and behave more like a Turbo or a Turbo S. Some notable performance extras include bigger wheels (ranging from $2380 to $8770), rear-wheel steering ($1620), and carbon-ceramic brakes ($9080). Equipped with some of these options, the 4S exhibited much of the same sports-sedan handling we experienced in the top models. It’s a point-and-shoot kind of car: Turn the steering wheel, and it just goes. The grip threshold is high, and there’s very little body roll thanks to the heavy battery pack mounted low in the car. It’s difficult to get the Taycan out of sorts. Our only dynamic complaint is with the lack of brake-pedal feel. We wish it offered more initial bite when driving hard in the canyons.

a person in a car: Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch© Porsche Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch

While Porsche isn’t talking about United States-specific range estimates for the Taycan at this point, on the European WLTP cycle, the 4S with the optional battery achieves slightly higher range numbers than the Turbos. The same should be true of the EPA’s numbers. The smaller-battery 4S, which will arrive on our shores a few months after the big-battery car, obviously won’t be able to go nearly as far on a charge.

At a starting price of $105,150, the Taycan 4S is a more accessible proposition than the $152,250 Turbo and $186,350 Turbo S. The bigger battery adds $5570 to the total. But given that none of these Taycan variants will be able to match the significantly less expensive Tesla Model S Long Range’s estimated 373-mile driving range, the 4S strikes us the smartest buy in Porsche’s EV lineup so far. If you don’t care about beating Teslas at stoplights, choose the least expensive but still quite impressive Taycan and spend the money you save on Porsche’s interminable options list.

a close up of a car: Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch© Porsche Porsche Taycan 4S Is Sensible but No Slouch

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