Test Drive: 2021 Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo

Driving the wagon variant of the brand's first fully electric model in the winding hills of LA

Speed, or rather the sensation of it, is relative. The way our brain makes sense of zooming through time and space isn’t really all that complicated; auditory, visual and tactile cues come together and, working in concert, they deliver enough information to our brain for it to make sense of what our body is physically experiencing. Simultaneously, we also take note of what we are seeing—at the helm of a vehicle, that’s an indicated rate of speed on a gauge as the world rushes by us. While that’s a dramatic over-simplification, it’s enough to explain why 80mph riding in a 1970s Porsche 914 feels fast but 180mph barely registers as out of the ordinary when taking off in a commercial jet.

If our environment is stable and we’re not being given the right cues, humans are quite capable of being comfortable while moving at a serious pace. We’re not implying that being in the new 2021 Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo is like being in a jet, but it’s next-level fast off the line, plenty stable when going fast and an absolute joy to drive on winding roads. A wagon variant of Porsche‘s first fully electric model, the Taycan 4 Cross Turismo is a signpost of currently available electric vehicles.

The Cross Turismo we drive had the Off-Road Design Package, adding body cladding above the wheels, a model-specific lower front valance and rear diffuser and 0.4-inch higher max ride height than a standard Cross Turismo. While it might look a little tougher, this Cross Turismo isn’t equipped for much more than a trip down a potholed dirt road. It will be interesting, however, to see what the aftermarket does with them in the coming years; as we’ve seen with internal combustion engine Porsches already, anything can be turned into a “Safari Car.”

Beyond the off-road package there’s plenty more to admire. The Cross Turismo cuts one of Porsche’s most appealing profiles, thanks to its well-balanced nature.

The hatch opens into a rear cargo area offering 15.8 cubic-feet of storage with the 40:20:40 split rear seats upright, and 42.8 cubic-feet with them locked in the flat position. That’s not a ton of space, but it’s more than a regular Taycan and not that far off of the figures from the gas powered Panamera Sport Turismo. Smart use of storage space is ample for a few people to go on weekend jaunts; for two adults and kids, the Cross Turismo offers more than enough room.

Even though it may not be capable of holding multiple large, awkward items the way typical wagons can, the cabin makes up for it by offering more rear seat headroom than the standard Taycan and an elegantly laid out environment. When we head out to some of our favorite roads in the Los Angeles area, the Cross Turismo makes a strong case for being a wonderful all-rounder—not just for running errands, but also to get your blood pumping.

If vehicles like the Taycan 4 Cross Turismo are the future, then we’re going to need to rethink speed laws in the USA. Considering those auditory, visual and tactile cues we mentioned earlier, Cross Turismo doesn’t deliver them in the way that we’ve grown accustomed to in internal combustion engine vehicles. High-performance electric cars require new neural pathways to be formed in order to fully grasp what’s going on and that takes time. Until enough experience has been had at the helm of the Cross Turismo, we’re going to struggle to fully comprehend how a 5,029-pound all-wheel-drive wagon can feel like a 911. Chassis structure, suspension tuning, battery packaging and dual-motor placement are tangible factors, but it’s often these intangibles that make a sports car memorable.

Any truly exceptional vehicle has to be more than the sum of its parts and this can be more of a challenge for EVs because they have fewer parts with which to tug on your heartstrings. The 460hp (with launch control on) and 368 pound-foot of torque is a great base on which to build a relationship with a driver, but it’s not always about being quick. All EVs offer a somewhat thrilling shove of torque from a standstill. This is where the Taycan Cross Turismo stands apart—it’s not just fast, it’s a Porsche. That translates to an EV that’s deeply satisfying to drive in a spirited manner.

Taking the above into consideration the $92,250 base price for a Taycan 4 Cross Turismo seems reasonable. Our well-optioned, Euro-spec test car comes in at around $120,000; much less affordable, but typical in the world of Porsche. The optional Porsche Electric Sport Sound isn’t a direct replacement for the throaty twin-turbo V8 in a Panamera GTS or the howling flat six you can get in a 718 Cayman GT4.

The optional warp speed sound isn’t for everyone, but it gives another point of reference for what the car is doing when driving hard, deepening a driver’s connection to the vehicle. It’s an entirely different kind of sound because the Cross Turismo is an entirely different kind of car. That’s exciting in and of itself, but looking ahead to the other Porsche models that are soon to go either fully electric (like the 2023 Macan) or offer an electric variant (911, Cayenne), the future is  bright for driver-friendly EVs. And if the base model Cross Turismo is this good, we can only imagine what the top of the line Turbo S will be like. Hopefully we won’t have to imagine much longer.

Images by Andrew Maness