Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
  • Porsche recently launched a more affordable version of the Taycan EV with a $79,900 starting price.
  • The standard Taycan only has one electric motor and is rear-wheel drive.
  • The standard Taycan is just as good as the $144,000 Taycan model I'd previously driven.

In January, Porsche unveiled the most affordable version of its Taycan EV sedan - called, simply, the Taycan. I wouldn't call it cheap - a $79,900 starting MSRP is still pricey no matter which way you spin it - but after having driven the standard Taycan and a $144,000 version of it, the base trim is arguably the most compelling model in the entire range.

In the new base trim, the Taycan doesn't have a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive option. Instead, you'll get to choose between one of two motor options to power the rear wheels: the standard 402-horsepower Performance Battery or the optional 469-horsepower Performance Battery Plus.

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
The next Taycan sedan in the lineup is the 4S model. With it, the starting price takes a pretty large leap to $103,800. The Taycan 4S Porsche loaned me last fall also came heavily optioned with goods like carbon-ceramic brakes, gold interior trim, and a glass panoramic roof - making its final price $143,690. In a perfect comparison test, I'd have driven the most bare-bones Taycan available. Zero options. Zero add-ons. The cheapest battery. But the closest Porsche was able to get for me was a standard Taycan with the optional and more powerful Performance Battery Plus, which already brings the starting price up to $85,680.
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Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
But the add-ons didn't stop there. This standard Taycan's options list was extensive, including adaptive air suspension, the Sport Chrono Package, 21-inch wheels, a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, and heated rear seats in addition to the standard heating in the front. And since the tester was a German-spec car, there wasn't a window sticker with final pricing available.
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan configurator.Porsche

Based on the options list that Porsche provided, I configured a standard Taycan on the automaker's site and ball-parked the price of my loaner at a cool $139,200 - or about $57,950 (before destination fees) above the $79,900 starting price.

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
But options are options. With everything said and done, many of them were cosmetic and thus did not change the way the Taycan drove. So, having driven the all-wheel-drive Taycan 4S, I set out to find out exactly what the rear-wheel-drive Taycan keeps - or loses - in that $23,900 difference in starting prices.

1. Easy-to-use driver information cluster

Alright, so, this one isn't specific to the base Taycan, but I did want to call it out.
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Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee

Just like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, a single screen serves as the driver's digital information cluster in the Taycan. But unlike the Mercedes, which had what felt like a dozen different menus to cycle through, the Taycan's system was easy to use.

With your right-hand scroll wheel, you can scroll through display options on one of the three information gauges. Clicking the wheel confirms your selected display option. Clicking the toggle button to the right of the scroll wheel changes the gauge you're customizing, an action accompanied by a yellow outline as a visual guide.
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
The center gauge can be configured to become a giant map to aid with the navigation system or an empty screen with just the speedometer.
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Very intuitive system!

2. It does feel slower

This one was inevitable - I mean, the base Taycan is missing an entire other motor with which to drive its front wheels. This is not to say the car is slow, because it most definitely is not.

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
It just lacks the neck-snapping acceleration that I experienced in the dual-motor Taycan 4S. Porsche quotes the Taycan with the Performance Battery Plus as sprinting to 60 mph from a stop in 5.1 seconds. The Taycan 4S is estimated to do it in 3.8 seconds. But merging and passing were still greeted with the same spacey, flying sensation that's so characteristic of an electric car. And in Sport mode, the base Taycan still pipes in artificial noises of something speeding up. Like a galactic fighter from Andromeda Corridor Xenon 1, maybe.
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3. Steering is just a bit lighter

Perhaps due to the absence of an extra motor sitting over the front axle, the Taycan's steering didn't feel quite as heavy or have the same resistance as the Taycan 4S's.

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
On twistier roads, however, it still provided ample feedback, and putting it in Sport mode tightened things up right away. For most, it's probably not noticeable enough to be any issue at all.

4. Still a Taycan

I walked away from my initial weekend with the Taycan 4S impressed. I walked away from the standard Taycan also feeling impressed.

Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Last year, I found the Taycan 4S to be an incredible all-around package. Everything felt substantive and tightly wound, sophisticated and unsloppy. It felt like driving a (violently green) slice of the future. But if, for whatever reason, the thought of going home with the rear-drive Taycan somehow feels inauthentic to you, rest assured. The standard model is every bit as much authentically a Taycan as the other, more expensive and dual-motor variants. They also look exactly the same.
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Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Though it's down on power, the standard Taycan still utilizes the same wonderful chassis. It's still a tour de force of an EV in a great package that's sleek, comfortable, fast, and capable. And because it's Porsche, you can option it so fantastically that the add-ons list price can easily exceed the base price of the car itself. Options or not, the regular Taycan is a wonderful entry point into the Taycan lineup. Shopping for a luxury car can sometimes come with an intangible pressure to go for the top trim, but with the standard Taycan, you don't have to feel like you've sacrificed anything just because you didn't spring for the costlier all-wheel-drive model.

Even though it lacks a front motor and a loftier price tag, the base Taycan delivers.

♦♦♦
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Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
Review: Porsche's $80,000 Taycan EV has fewer features than its 6-figure siblings - but it's just as special
2021 Porsche Taycan.Kristen Lee
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