Any high-performance wagon with launch control is an inspired automotive offering. Especially in these SUV-loving times. Luxury performance wagons are the quintessential automotive triathletes – providing a more practical cargo area along with a power-operated tailgate, but the lower-slung dynamic thrills normally provided by rip-roaring exotic sports cars.
Right now, there are only two clear 600-ish horsepower, mid-size super wagon foes that come close to Porsche’s soon-to-arrive Taycan Cross Turismo five-door: Audi’s audacious 591 hp RS 6 Avant, and Mercedes-AMG’s egregiously quick and refined 603 hp E 63 S. Sure, you could argue that outer orbit rivals to the Taycan CT could include Tesla’s similarly priced Model X Plaid (now scheduled to arrive in spring 2022) or even the compact and much lower cost Model Y Performance crossover, thanks to their all-electric powertrains and other-worldly straight-line thrust.
But as taller-riding SUVs (okay, more crossover-ish for the Y), both Tesla models have that slightly higher centre of gravity that may be great for ease of entry and exit, but make them less hungry corner carvers than Porsche’s supremely elegant Taycan Cross Turismo five-door battery electric vehicle (BEV). And the Taycan Turbo CT seen here outmuscles its hulking German counterparts, and in a much more advanced, lung and planet-friendlier manner.
The Taycan Cross Turismo is expected to start arriving in September in Canada, in 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S flavours. They will all be pricy for their size, from the 4’s $119,900 base price to the all-conquering CT Turbo S that clocks in at $218,000, before options of course. This particular tester was a high-end Turbo model, which starts at $178,000 and 616 hp and topped out at just over $230k after lots of extras, which included Launch Control that adds a temporary power boost of up to 670 hp (!) to turn the accelerator into an instant super-fast forward mode.
Interestingly, the regular power figure of the Taycan Turbo S in all models is the same 616 figure as in Turbo models, but instead of the over-boost hitting a peak 670, it goes all the way up to 750 hp and a maniacal 774 lb-ft of torque – at least for 2.5 seconds at a time. But the performance is repeatable many times, Porsche insists, in a clear dig to its Californian rival that became known for wilting performance after a few hard laps or acceleration runs.
All this electron thrust in the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo provides a space-tastic zero to 100 km/h time of 3.3 seconds, just a few zoomy tenths slower than the brilliantly dynamic Taycan electric sedan, but with a larger cargo area and more headroom for rear-seat passengers. And a much snazzier Euro-chic design, arguably.
The Cross Turismo is truly futuristic art on wheels, though a couple neighbours who happened to see this Gentian blue CT and a white Taycan Turbo S in the driveway in quick succession preferred the sedan. I chalked up those ill-advised aesthetic opinions on the Cross Turismo’s optional 21-inch Exclusive ‘aerodynamically optimized’ wheels, which covered more of those lovely large brake calipers for less wind turbulence at speed, but perhaps more geek-chic style when parked.
Compared to the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S and Audi RS 6 wagon bodies, the Taycan Cross Turismo is lower and less roomy inside, making it the least family-friendly of the bunch from a purely practical point of view. Then again, the CT does offer a front trunk, unlike its non-Tesla rivals, which adds a healthy 84 litres to the somewhat average 405 litre cargo area.
Fold the rear seats down, and the CT offers up to 1,212 L of space, though slightly less if you opt for the 21-speaker, 1,455-watt Burmester surround sound system, as this CT offered. For $6,620, it also places a powerful subwoofer under the rear cargo shelf, though it does eat up 41 litres of cargo space.
Both the Taycan sedan and CT offer the foot sweep activation under the rear bumper that works well to both open and close, but the much larger opening, as well as larger space overall, gives the Cross Turismo added practicality to go with its extra visual panache (to most sane eyes – really, how could you not adore this shape?).
This most European of body styles had an extra thick accent in this particular tester since it actually was an imported Euro-spec model, but with its twin charge ports switched over to North American specs. This also meant that inside this Taycan CT was a non-functioning navigation system and satellite radio, but was otherwise largely identical to what we’ll receive in Canada soon. Including an optional third screen directly in front of the passenger seat, which prompted some oohs and ahhs, as first seen in Ferrari models.
From the driver’s seat, Porsche drivers will find themselves in familiar territory, with a prominent dial on the steering wheel that allows the driver to select Range, Sport and Sport Plus driving modes among others in Sport Chrono-equipped models, including an Individual mode that allows the driver to fine-tune suspension, steering, ride height and even intensity of electric zoom sounds to their liking.
It’s not nearly as loud as opening up the exhaust settings in Turbo internal combustion (ICE) Porsches, but it does add some welcome aural drama. And if not so welcome, can be switched off entirely.
It wouldn’t be a Porsche without some ergonomic foibles. The wireless phone charger is in an awkward spot under the center armrest, as are the two USBs. So, you can’t see your phone at all when charging, and there’s no notification on the screen when it’s successfully charging. Plus, the air vents can’t be manually adjusted to move around airflow, strangely, but are buried in a sub-menu.
The Taycan CT feels smaller on the road than its mid-size wagon rivals, but also more planted and unperturbed around corners than its German super hauler counterparts. Using all their official 0-100 km/h acceleration benchmark times, the CT’s 3.1 second mark is slightly quicker than the RS 6 and the E 63 S too, by a mere tenth and three-tenths of a second, respectively, though Porsche is known to be conservative in its performance ratings.
This carefulness has more controversially extended to the Taycan’s official range estimates as well, which of course are key in any all-electric vehicle, when Porsche’s pessimistic U.S.-EPA estimates first came out in 2020. Newly released Natural Resources Canada figures suggest the base and 4S 2021 Cross Turismo can travel 346 km, 328 km in the Turbo such as this tester, and a nearly identical 325 km in the quickest Cross Turismo Turbo S model.
That’s not a lot considering the size of the battery, and the fact that many sub-$50k EVs are rated at more than 400 km. But none of those BEVs are nearly as quick, luxurious or agile.
Recharging the Taycan is also super quick, at least on paper. Its 93.4 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery can be charged up at up to 270 kilowatts: the fastest on the market right now. However, even when I found the quickest chargers (max 350 kW charging speeds), this particular Taycan Turbo never surpassed 152 kW, though it did manage to keep close to that mark for a healthy part of my quick charging time there.
The quick charge port for DC power is on the passenger side fender of the Taycan, making for some interesting maneuvering at a couple of quick charge stations. Under ideal conditions, Porsche says a Taycan pulling into a quick charger near-empty would be able to get back on the road with an 80 per cent charge (you never quick charge until full, as the charging slows way down) in a mere 22.5 minutes. Granted, you’ll need to drive in Sport Plus for a good 30 minutes or more to fully warm up the battery.
The more commonly used AC port is on the driver’s side, which from similarly empty will take roughly nine hours to fully charge overnight at home. A neat party trick: a quick swipe under either charge port’s ridge magically unveils the charge plug, while they automatically roll down when the charging cable is removed.
During my final quick charge of this charmingly addictive Porsche Taycan five-door, I happened to pull up to the EV that I had long considered the most stunning EV on the market, and amongst the most striking of all vehicles in the business, to these eyes: the Jaguar i-Pace. The electric SUV’s sultry curves hadn’t changed, yet next to the Taycan Cross Turismo, the Porsche’s upscale performance aura gave it more than just visual and luxury appeal, a given when spending north of $100k on a vehicle.
The Taycan Cross Turismo is no doubt pricy, but with its Starship acceleration, dynamic abilities, futuristic drivetrain, and Euro-chic visual appeal, it is the automotive triathlete that does it all – and in spectacular, gold-medal-worthy fashion.