Review: 2020 Porsche Taycan 4S Is a Perfect 563-HP Winter Sled
We head to the top of Finland to sample Porsche’s EV in the extreme cold.
Vehicles today are all tested in extreme temperatures prior to release. No matter how milquetoast the model, prototypes of every new car have conquered some form of inhospitable climate, from both ends of the spectrum. Yes, Nissan knows the likelihood of you pounding your new Versa through Death Valley is quite low, but thanks to rigorous engineering validation, that car can handle any midsummer Arizona road trip without spitting coolant from every crevice. Testing in hostile environs is especially paramount for electric vehicles, considering range and battery life can be drastically affected by temperature. Heat is the primary enemy of battery life, but get that pack too frosty, and the efficiency scales also tip in the wrong direction. Like most things, there needs to be a balance.
Porsche apparently wanted us to see how it has managed that balance, as in addition to our Los Angeles stint in the new 2020 Porsche Taycan 4S, it was more than happy to have us test its newest EV supersedan in the frozen north. And by north, we mean really, really north—as in the top of Finland at Porsche's Ice Experience center. After donning our puffiest jacket and thickest socks, we arrived in Kittilä to find a fleet of snow-covered Taycan 4S models outside our hotel—these were the very same cars we drove in California, having been whisked around the globe by plane just days earlier—fully charged and ready to silently scramble across hard-packed snow roads.
Porsche touts the Taycan's winter-readiness by citing its instantaneous torque vectoring and quick-witted traction and stability controls that aim to reduce low-grip situations to little more than forgettable memories. And indeed, on rural snow trails snaking through the Lapland region's many pine forests, the 4S was nearly as surefooted as it was on Angeles Crest Highway. Short of burying the throttle and summoning all 563 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, there was no real discernable slippage in regular driving scenarios, no matter whether the surface was frigid concrete or packed snow.
If you're a bit overzealous in unleashing electrons, the 4S driving aids quickly corral wheel slip and any undue rotation. In fact, you can forget any fun sideways stuff if you leave all the systems on; they're content to grind you to a slow crawl rather than allow you to hang the rear out.
Given the high snow berms and ice-covered evergreens at the road's edge, that's okay with us. Even with a non-studded winter-tire package, the 4S is positively indefatigable as a regular winter commuter, possessing the aforementioned grip and poise to match (and maybe even best) any of the strongest all-wheel-drive snowbusters available.
Once at the Experience Center, we tested the Taycan on a series of icy figure eights, slaloms, and drift donuts. Compared to the manicured snowpack we drove in on, the impromptu arctic circuits hid treacherous potholes, mega-slick ice patches, and piles of snow that would easily high-side the Taycan if your hands weren't quick enough.
Immediately, it became clear Porsche's PTV and 4D-Chassis Control had little tolerance for exuberance, so we would almost immediately switch everything off on each new course. Sashaying through a few figure eights, the 4S proved masterful in its linearity and rewarded smooth inputs with dutiful responses thanks to exquisitely tuned accelerator response and predictable power delivery. A few minutes in, we knew exactly how much pedal input would more than likely induce a spin.
Balance your inputs just right, and it's magic. If the rear does swing too wide, though, provide opposite-lock steering, feed on power, and the 4S claws its way out of the spin with near-silent grace. The car's rear-wheel steering allows for alarmingly tight turn-in, as does the quick steering, while a surprisingly compliant suspension soaks up errant ice chunks or potholes you may encounter.
Rain or shine, ice or snow, the 2020 Porsche Taycan 4S is sublime and predictable. Don't believe us? Get in touch with Porsche—they'd love to have you visit Finland and find out for yourself.
|2020 Porsche Taycan 4S Specifications|
|ON SALE||Now, deliveries in spring 2020|
|POWERTRAIN||Dual permanent magnet synchronous motors, 429 hp (523 hp boost), 472 lb-ft (4S); 483 hp (583 hp boost), 479 lb-ft (4S w/ Performance Battery Plus)|
|TRANSMISSIONS||1-speed direct drive (front), 2-speed automatic (rear)|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 4-passenger, dual-motor, AWD sedan|
|L x W x H||195.4 x 77.4 x 54.3 in|
|WEIGHT||4700-4900 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph|