2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo Review: The Autobahn Queen of the Future
Yes, you really do need 750-horsepower launch control and gravel mode in a family-friendly wagon.
A fast wagon, a playlist called "Lightspeed," and everyone's favorite sign for no speed limits. It's easy to feel like a rolling stereotype, blasting techno as you hoon a Porsche down the Autobahn, but I embraced it. In that moment, in the 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo, everything was awesome.
I spent a week road-tripping around Germany in it, and if anything, this weird ultra-wagon with a mild lift may just be the ideal road-tripping EV. Sure, you can make the case for doing a road trip in a high-strung sports car or even an endearingly impractical weirdo, but the best car will always be one that can do a little bit of everything. You don't want to be stranded when you beach your beloved, lowered track toy on a speed bump, nor do you want to run out of space for dumb souvenirs. What you want is a really fast wagon with a comfortable ride and enough ground clearance, solid handling, and power for days.
2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo: By the Numbers
- Taycan base price (Turbo S Cross Turismo as tested): $84,050 (€213,254 or $250,876,04)
- Powertrain: 93.4 kWh battery | two axle-mounted AC permanent synchronous motors | 1-speed front-axle transmission | 2-speed rear-axle transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 616 | 750 with launch control
- Torque: 774 lb-ft
- 0-60: 2.7 seconds with launch control
- Top speed: 155 mph
- EPA-estimated range: 202 miles
- Curb weight: 5,121 pounds
- Seating capacity: 4
- Cargo volume: 12.9 cubic feet (rear trunk) | 2.8 cubic feet (front trunk)
- EPA fuel economy (via Porsche): 74 mpge city | 73 mpge highway | 73 mpge combined
- Quick take: The Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo is the kind of effortlessly quick grand tourer that exists for the speed-limit-free sections of the Autobahn—it just happens to be absurdly practical and electric.
Porsche's Future-Proof Wagon
Take the screaming fast all-electric Taycan Turbo S—the fastest, most powerful version atop the Taycan range—and make it a wagon with a little more ground clearance (0.78 inches) and more headroom (3.62 inches) in the rear seats, and you have the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The all-wheel-drive Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo has one electric motor per axle, with a one-speed transmission up front and a two-speed transmission in the rear. It makes 616 horsepower and 774 pound-feet of torque; that peak horsepower figure becomes 750 hp when launch mode is engaged. It has the larger 93.4 kWh, 800-volt battery that's typically an upgrade for the regular, non-wagon Taycan.
Porsche Active Suspension Management is standard, which optimizes the car's air suspension for different kinds of terrain and driving styles, and smooths out the ride considerably. This works hand-in-hand with the different drive modes, which tweak the suspension firmness, ride height, torque management system, and traction and stability control for whatever you'd like to do. For example, engage Gravel mode for rougher terrain and that lift goes up to 1.18 inches over the standard non-wagon Taycan's ride height. On the other hand, Range and Sport Plus modes lower the chassis as low as it will go to be as aerodynamic as possible.
With 73 mpge combined, the wagon's EPA rating is slightly better than that of the sedan's, with standard active aero helping somewhat. It's still rated for a grand total of 202 miles of range by the EPA's conservative estimate, which I only found to be accurate if you're an American tourist flooring it all the time on the Autobahn because freedom or something. That's about the worst thing you can do mileage-wise, given that EVs are far more efficient crawling along in stop-and-go traffic than they are at sustained speeds on the highway.
Under normal circumstances, I found that this 202-mile figure is a significant low-ball. The Taycan calculates its range estimates based on how it's been driven recently, and it still gave me a 221-mile range estimate for a full battery after a couple of days that included plenty of range-sucking Autobahn use.
Porsche's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
Behind the wheel, the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo feels like a Porsche greatest hits compilation—just remixed for the modern era. The arched sheet metal that goes down the front and over the headlamps may call back to the 911, but driving the Cross Turismo in its default "Normal" mode reminds me more of a vintage 928. The suspension is softer and more compliant, so you feel it dip and pitch more as you brake, accelerate, and turn—but like a well-optioned 928, it's still fast as snot.
You still feel the 5,121-pound curb weight in turns, and no amount of traction management trickery will fool you into mistaking this experience for that of an old-school, no-frills track day 911. Yet between its wide rubber the optional rear-wheel steering, the wagon often feels smaller than it is.
I’d never experienced a true "Autobahn car" before, but the electric Taycan Turbo S wagon certainly feels like the Autobahn goddess of the future. It’s a car so stable, smooth, and built for high speeds that calmly blasting along at 125 mph doesn't even stress it. Even Porsche's InnoDrive adaptive cruise control was more than happy to whiz up to 130 mph the second it detected a speed-limit-free section of road, which was mind-blowing.
Yet with great speed comes an even greater need to safely come to a surprise-halt. This test car's optional carbon-ceramic brakes had rotors the size of pizzas—16.5-inch discs up front and 16.14-inch discs in the rear—which made it no big deal whenever I caught up to two speed-limited trailers clogging both lanes of traffic. There's no drama. They just work.
Crank the drive mode dial up to its Sport mode and the Taycan snaps out of gentle grand tourer mode. The steering gets more responsive, the suspension gets firmer, the accelerator response gets more aggressive, and the ride height drops in order to optimize the car for speed. Sport Plus is the most aggressive drive mode of them all and, frankly, the most fun one for blasting down backroads with speed limits that are still often generous enough to let you push it a little. It swaps the comfortable 928 throwback vibe for that of a five-door supercar, sending more power to the rear wheels for maximum fun.
Sport Plus also activates a sci-fi-sounding "Electric Sport Sound" background noise that's meant to amplify what's going on with the rear two-speed transmission, right down to the blips between the gears. You can disable it if you're not a fan or enable it in other drive modes if you love it. To me, it sounded different enough from an engine that it didn't feel like cheesy fakery and also provided an extra bit of auditory feedback as to what the car was doing.
Even in Sport Plus mode, the Taycan Turbo S's power delivery feels smoother and less brutal than the Teslas I've driven. All it takes to knock the sunglasses off my head in a Model 3 Performance is mashing the accelerator pedal. In the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo, I had to use launch control for that, which unlocks the car's full 750 hp for what Porsche claims is a 2.7-second zero-to-60 time.
Launch control resulted in the kind of incredulous laughter that made my face hurt from smiling too hard. Only the tiniest amount of wheel-slip snuck through as all four wheels dug in to knock the wind out of a car full of giddy car nerds. It was truly a thing of beauty.
Yet in every other respect, being smoother and more refined is the Taycan's modus operandi. Even the interior felt like a much-needed evolution of the flat-slab console Porsche has in the Cayenne and Panamera. The single most surprising thing about this car wasn't the whoosh of power. It's how much I, a longtime advocate for buttons on safety grounds, liked this interior.
The inclusion of a dash-mounted shifter let Porsche put the most frequently used controls in large, easy-to-read print in logical locations, particularly over the center console. Adding an optional display on the passenger side so they can tweak things like music or navigation without interrupting the driver on the main center screen is pure genius.
The rest of the interior is great. There are now two programmable buttons—one on the dash and one on the steering wheel—that let me have both forward and back buttons for the stereo again without having to take my eyes off the road. The standard Bose sound system sounded good, according to various audiophile passengers with better ears than mine. The 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats were certainly firmer than others Porsche offers, but I thought they were comfortable so long as you got them positioned just right.
The real beauty of the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo is its versatility, including in the typical "I can fit a lot of stuff in it" way that convinces you to get the wagon. That hatch was a champ, fitting two kid-sized bikes, a tiny ride-on car, and a toddler scooter without having to pop the rear seats down. Three cases of beer fit with at least space for two more. Another friend's folding wheelchair also fit with ease, adding yet more carbon fiber to the wagon's many tasteful carbon accents.
This was my first time doing a longer-term test of an EV, and it really wasn't that much more of a hassle than any other car. A large part of that is thanks to Germany's charging infrastructure. I was relieved to find that most public chargers were at least in well-lit, well-traveled areas, which isn't always the case in the U.S.
Plugging it in overnight at the shopping center a few blocks from our hotel was enough for nearly an entire day's worth of backroad shenanigans. Most of our planned routes were around 200 miles a day to allow enough time to goof off along the way, but I usually plugged it in at a mid-day stop just to be safe. Museums and other tourist-oriented stops tended to have at least a couple of slower 22-kW EV chargers available, although the more remote and more outdoorsy locations didn't. Having charging ports available on both sides of the car was super convenient, too.
Germany's network of Autobahn rest stops—usually with on-site restaurants and shops—is fantastic in a regular car, and fortunately, that's where many of its fastest chargers ended up. On a 300-kW charger, going from sub-10-percent up to around an 80 percent charge took just a little over 20 minutes—or just a little over the time I'd spend fueling, grabbing snacks and (if needed) using the restroom at a stop anyway—only I didn't have to babysit a gas pump in the car the whole time the Taycan was fueling.
Fortunately, the Taycan's navigation unit includes the locations of public chargers, though the one feature I wish it had was an update in real-time as to which ones were broken. One of Porsche's usually helpful features—the Porsche Charging Planner, which suggests faster or more convenient chargers along your route that will save you time—kept trying to redirect me to a charger I was leaving because it was out of order. Broken chargers are still somehow a more common sight than out-of-order gas pumps. One row of six Ionity fast chargers at an Autobahn rest stop had only three that were working.
The Taycan does have some tricks up its sleeve to help you eke the very last electrons out of your car, however. Regenerative braking can recuperate some energy as you drive. Porsche opted for a gentler slow-down off the accelerator that felt more like natural engine braking, so it was fairly unobtrusive to leave regen on all the time. Range mode limits its top speed, pares back the output of accessories like the HVAC system and headlamps, and primarily uses the more efficient front motor as much as it can to be as miserly as possible. It also lowers the car and adjusts the active aerodynamics to be as efficient as possible. The Porsche Intelligent Range Manager will also prompt you to turn this on when it senses that you're waiting too long to find a charger.
The biggest issue is that the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo is large. The fact that it's plenty roomy inside for four grown adults is good, but add 911 Turbo-like wheel arches to that, and you have a genuinely girthy car. Parking the Taycan next to a friend's older half-ton Silverado pickup made me do a double-take at the Porsche's width, and squeezing it between a very large tractor and a guardrail on a narrow country road made me yell some words I can't repeat to my mother. Fortunately, the 360-degree exterior camera is one of the always-there options on the center console screen. It, plus a beeping proximity sensor, go a long way in helping you jam a very wide car into a European-sized parking spot.
Not all of this extra size translates into more storage, either. The frunk is surprisingly small—nearly half the size of the 718 Cayman's.
The infotainment system ran into occasional glitches during my loan: The navigation hung up sometimes when I went to select a destination, the music from my iPhone shuffled to a random song when I tried selecting a specific song on an album, the passenger-side screen rebooted mid-drive, and the gauge cluster switched back to German once at a charge point. Yet, as I was driving a pre-production test vehicle, a Porsche rep said these were issues earlier on in the Taycan's production run that have since been addressed via over-the-air updates. It's that last part that reassures me; as with many high-end EVs, OTA updates to address issues or even add functionality are frequent.
Opening the charge-port doors by swiping your finger under the fins next to them also felt like a bit like tech for tech's sake. You can also open these on the center console screen inside if you'd rather skip the swipes, but is adding this extra complication to a charge-port door really an improvement? That's debatable, especially when the flip-down part inside that covers the extra attachment for fast charging can be broken off by the exterior door to the charging port if you're not careful.
Finally, a Fast EV Wagon
The inevitable EV comparison is going to be against a Tesla Model S—particularly the top-of-the-range Plaid, given that the next question everyone seemed to ask after the Plaid dropped its 7:30.909 production EV Nürburgring record was, "When is the Taycan Turbo S going to clap back?" While I don't think Porsche would send the lifted wagon version to chase a 'Ring record, the Plaid versus Turbo S debate all boils down to what you want. The Plaid has more horsepower (1,020), a lower zero to 60 time (1.99 seconds), longer range (396 miles with 101 mpge), a higher top speed (200 mph), and a lower starting price ($131,190).
But the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo is just nicer to be inside than every Tesla I've experienced. The $188,950 starting price gets you a real steering wheel instead of an awkward yoke, a more logically laid-out interior, better build quality, and the extra versatility of a wagon you can raise or lower depending on how you want to drive that day. Teslas are great for hot, nasty, raw speed, and are fun as hell accordingly. The top-of-the-range Taycan is a wholly different experience—more refined and comfortable—and no one else is offering a wagon version right now in this class of EVs.
Porsche somehow made a weird, lifted electric wagon feel like a Porsche, which makes me feel pretty good about the future accordingly. I know there are some purists who still write off any model with four doors or that is electric-only as "not a real Porsche," but they couldn't be more wrong. The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo is as legit as any Porsche that's come before it and it's here to bring us to a new era.
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