How to describe the new electric-powered 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo?
It’s definitely not your traditional Porsche model, that’s for sure! But if you were to set out to combine the best design elements of the outstanding Taycan sedan with a rear body shape not unlike the Panamera Sport Turismo for added load-carrying ability and then raised it slightly with Cayenne-like ground clearance to give it a degree of off-road ability, the high-riding wagon-style offering you see here is arguably what you’d arrive at.
For those who keep a keen eye on developments at Porsche, it won’t come as a surprise. A concept of the Taycan Cross Turismo, the Mission E Cross Turismo, was originally revealed at the Geneva motor show back in 2018.
Since then, the styling and packaging have been refined to provide the German carmaker with a rather unique model in the fast-growing global electric vehicle ranks.
We won’t get a good look at the production version Taycan Cross Turismo until its planned public premiere in a couple of weeks time, but as a foretaste of what we can expect Porsche recently invited us to drive a prototype of it latest model in Germany.
Technically, there’s very little change over the Taycan sedan. The two share the same platform, drivetrains and electric architectures. The low mileage pre-production development mule, which has taken a pause from a test program at Porsche’s nearby Weissach R&D centre for media duties, wears some light disguise. But while the front end remains quite familiar, the changes in appearance over the Taycan sedan are quite extensive.
They begin at the B-pillars, with a flatter roof (optional in glass) that extends backwards to form the basis of the wagon style rear end. The rear doors are carried over, though they feature taller glass. Further differentiation comes via restyled rear fenders and a more upright tailgate that opens either remotely via the key fob or with the push of a button.
To offset a lack of body rigidity brought by the changes to the body, Porsche has strengthened the rear structure of the Taycan Cross Turismo with an extra brace. It runs across the floor of the boot and up through the pillars into the roof, providing added stiffness.
It’s the raised ride height that really stands out, though. All Taycan Cross Turismo models receive a standard air-sprung suspension featuring an added 20mm of ground clearance over the Taycan sedan. The tracks have also been increased slightly through the adoption of new wheel bearings, giving it a very confident stance.
To accentuate the off-road look, Porsche has also added new sill elements, wheel arch extensions, roof bars and a unique set of wheels ranging from 19- up to 21-inch in diameter. It also intends to offer its new electric-powered wagon with an optional Off-Road Package. It provides an additional 10mm of ground clearance, increasing it to 30mm over the Taycan sedan overall.
The taller rear end and added ride height doesn’t do much for the Taycan’s otherwise excellent aerodynamic properties. But at 0.26, the drag coefficient remains well ahead of traditional wagon standards.
Stepping inside, we discover the front of the cabin is little changed. The driving position isn’t quite as low as in the Taycan sedan due to the added ground clearance. But it is still sports car like, with the flat floor sighting your legs quite high out in front and the steering wheel set near to vertical.
The higher roof provides rear seat occupants with easier aggress and an additional 36mm of headroom once inside. The rear boot also gains added volume. Porsche isn’t saying by how much over the 366-litres of the Taycan sedan just yet, but versatility is clearly extended due to the significantly larger aperture created by the tailgate and added space underneath the cargo blind. There’s also a smaller 81-litre front boot, or frunk.
Porsche is yet to provide wide-ranging details to its second electric production car, but we can confirm the initial Taycan Cross Turismo line-up for Australia will consist of three models – the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, each sharing its driveline with its Taycan sedan equivalent. All three receive dual electric motors, one up front and another larger unit at the rear, a liquid-cooled 93.4kWh (or 83.7kWh net capacity) lithium-ion battery mounted low down within the floorpan, a two-speed gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.
It is the top of the range Turbo S we drive here – and its performance is every bit as memorable as its lower riding sedan sibling. With up to 560kW and 1050Nm of torque on overboost, it delivers huge and instantaneous acceleration. The way it picks up speed on an open road is nothing short of breathtaking, propelling you with whisper quiet efficiency and seemingly endless power despite a kerb weight put at over 2300kg.
You’re going to need a top echelon supercar to match the Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo in a straight line. Nothing’s official just yet, but a 0-100km/h time of 3.0sec - some 0.2sec slower than the Taycan Turbo S sedan - is being tipped.
There is a distant whistle from each of the electric motors under load, but the overriding sound within the cabin remains the roar of the tyres across the bitumen. A sound synthesiser allows you to call up a digitally enhanced soundtrack, but the best way to enjoy the new Porsche is in its bare hushed state, no matter what the driving condition.
It's possible to control the amount of energy that is recuperated on the overrun and during braking in two stages, via the steering wheel.
Questions remain, including the range. Though Porsche says it won’t be too far off the 383 to 452km WLTP figure of the Taycan sedan. Like its lower-slung sibling, you can also expect the 800 volt technology and 270kW DC charging capability, too. This should allow you to charge to around 80 per cent in less than 23 minutes on a high power (270kW) charging system.
The added ground clearance and taller rear bodywork means Taycan Cross Turismo can’t quite claim the same ultra-low centre of gravity as the Taycan sedan, though it is still lower than any other road-legal combustion engine Porsche model at 445mm. The result is a level of road holding well beyond that delivered by any other luxury crossover or electric SUV. It is sports car like in its incisiveness with truly phenomenal traction.
Indeed, the Taycan Cross Turismo handles every bit as well as it goes in a straight line. The steering is superbly weighted and offers great precision as you wind off centre. It turns into corners eagerly with just a whiff of body roll as it loads up on its outer air springs, all four tyres gripping hard as lateral forces build. Although it might not quite match the lower riding Taycan for ultimate dynamic ability, the difference in overall on-road character is minimal.
Together with the five driving modes of the Taycan sedan – Range, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual, there’s also an additional Gravel setting. It’s not for extreme off-road driving, says Porsche. But with unique mapping for the traction and stability control systems and the added ride height when combined with the otherwise optional Off-Road Package, it will get you down a badly pitted gravel road or up to the ski chalet without much trouble at all.
The added wheel travel brought on by the raised suspension brings some extra compliance to the ride compared to the Taycan sedan. However, it remains spectacularly well tied down and superbly composed even at very high speeds over undulating roads.
There’s still a lot to learn about the 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo. However, this first drive of the new Porsche model in Turbo S prototype guise proves it is more than just a marketing folly aimed at the lifestyle set. There’s real appeal here, and it extends well beyond the added versatility and comfort its wagon-like bodystyle and off-road suspension brings over the sublime Taycan sedan.
It won’t be a bargain, though. With the Taycan Turbo S sedan priced at $339,100 plus on-road costs, you’ll be looking at something in the region of $350,000 for its more off-road focused sibling. It’s the Taycan 4S Cross Turismo that is likely to take the majority of Australian sales with a price tipped to start at around $205,000.
NOTE: As a prototype drive, we've left this review unscored. Watch for our first full review when the production Taycan Cross Turismo is launched later this year.