Luxury Electric Travel
Touring up the coast in Porsche’s new Taycan.
Let’s assert right from the start that the new Porsche Taycan, the sports carmaker’s entrant into the luxury EV market, is a great looking, smart handling sedan. Is it a compelling rival to Tesla’s Model S, the now-well-established segment leader? Porsche enthusiasts think so. In the first half of 2021, Taycan was Porsche’s best-selling non-SUV, edging out the venerable 911 with 5,367 units delivered. Meantime, Tesla’s venerable Model S sales plummeted during the same period while the EV brand’s fans scooped up Model 3 and Y series vehicles.
The Model S’ sporty, coupe-like styling has stood up pretty well considering its nine-year lifespan. The original edition sported a simple grille until 2016 when it gave way to the current, rather blunt aero style. In contrast, the new Taycan added just enough Porsche design personality to turn a head or two, even though the shape of both sedans appear to be twins, separated at birth.
Swing inside, and the difference is not at all subtle. Taycan’s ambitious graphic display sweeps horizontally from the instrument panel to include data for the passenger. And an iPad-size display adds more information in the center console. That’s a lot of messaging, perhaps a bit more than all drivers might wish for, but with a bit of electric flight time, it’s learnable.
Perhaps less surprising to luxury car buyers is the excellent fit, finish and feel of materials that we’ve come to expect in six-figure European cars. And while it won’t win a stoplight drag race vs. many Tesla models, there’s plenty of power on tap and handling is what you’d expect from a Porsche.
Range and Recharging
Since the dawn of the automobile, motorists are used to jumping in their cars and hitting the road with little concern about how much fuel is in the tank. Of course that’s because gas stations are plentiful and filling up takes just moments. And if you plan a trip, say from LA to San Francisco, a full fuel tank in most petrol cars will do the trick, but even if not, there’s plenty of opportunity in transit.
The Taycan’s optional 93.4 kWh battery has a 227-mile range, so when we picked up our test car at LAX for a trip to the Bay Area, non-stop travel was not an option. Besides, it’s more fun to journey up Highway 101, spend the night in the Central Coast wine region, and arrive refreshed.
For routine motoring, a household 240-volt charger will bring the Taycan, and similar size EVs, up to charge overnight. However on a road trip, you don’t want to spend more than 45-minutes or so, time enough for a light meal, to refill your electric tank. So I plotted out our northbound route to include a couple of fast charger locations near casual dining. And I also assumed an overnight recharge at the lovely Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles.
The part of our journey that worked exactly as planned was the lovely accommodations at Allegretto that included a sumptuous dinner at Cello, a Tuscan style restaurant with the generous portions that typify rural California. But although we plugged the Taycan in, the overnight recharge didn’t connect. But since the Taycan’s software can quickly locate nearby fast chargers, we found Electrify America units at a Bank of America in downtown Paso Robles. And the bank was just a short block from Springside Restaurant, our favorite breakfast destination, so we could also fill up in comfort. The balance of the journey nearly went as planned but for the Electrify America charger in Salinas experiencing a bit of software drama. Luckily, a technician was on site to fix the glitches.
For most occasions, an electric vehicle with at least 200-mile range is reasonably suitable. While more range is a welcome attribute, especially if this is your only vehicle, traveling around our reasonably electrified state is easier every year. And Porsche will pick up the recharge tab for Taycan owners through an affiliation with Electrify America, the leader in fast charging stations. That’s a great deal, I know, since we paid for the electricity on our trip and at $67, it cost about the same as buying high-octane fuel for a petrol-powered Porsche.
2021 Porsche Taycan 4S
TYPE: Dual motor, all-wheel-drive
HORSEPOWER: 395 @ 5,500 RPM
BATTERY: 93.4 kWh Performance Plus
BASE PRICE: $103,800 • AS TESTED: $144,980