Bertrand Fred Francis. You need to thank him. As an avid TopGear SA reader, this man was responsible for (according to a Wikipedia contribution) your childhood toy car fantasies. He was responsible for creating the most popular toy car motor - the pullback / clockwork motor. Remember it? Pull it back, then let it go whizzing across the lounge floor in no time at all. TopGear SA thanks you Mr Francis.
This idea of the pullback is my go-to metaphor for the enormous accelerative delivery of any Porsche Taycan all-electric model. There’s no other way to describe the immediacy of torque. Aim for the horizon. Bury the throttle and … woooosh, you’re there. It’s literally like clockwork. *cough.
The performance of the Taycan isn’t new to us but harnessing this into a raised estate version of the Taycan was always going to be interesting.
The Taycan 4S Cross Turismo is just 11mm longer than a Taycan, yet its bulbous rear and cladded exterior make for a whole new impression. It’s awkward from certain angles and isn’t the immediate head-turning object of desire. It elicits more of a double-take, could-it-really-be? sort of reaction and seems to really burst into its own aesthetic at dusk or dawn. It’s the combination of those four-point LED lights at the front coupled with that length-wide strip across the rear that give it a commanding presence.
The Cross Turismo fitted with the Offroad Design Package is a must-have. This increases ride-height by a further 10mm and throws in some flaps onto the front, side and rear for added protection from stones and mud when you veer off road. Which you must. This is where the Cross Turismo really starts to make sense.
It’s a Taycan in here. Porsche hasn’t opted to change the digital working concept at all. There are over 34-inches of high definition screen space in the cabin with haptic touch functions on the infotainment screens and the ability to hand-write some commands if you’re into that sort of thing. The only difference within the Cross Turismo cabin is the added functions of ride height and gravel buttons for those moments where you head off-road. The GRAVEL button raises the car and recalibrates the suspension management, throttle and traction settings to work best off-road for maximum grip.
And then of course, it’s an estate car so there’s more usable space. Rear passengers won’t benefit from much in the way of legroom, but the headroom is vastly improved thanks to the bulbous rear design and the panoramic roof. Together with frunk, the car will swallow up 484-litres of luggage with the seats folded up and that’s in large mid-to-exec saloon territory.
There are indeed more spacious cars out there especially Estate versions but the Cross Turismo can’t be described as lacking for space or practicality.
Cabin appointments are really made in the options room. You can fit the Taycan Cross Turismo with a plethora of interior appointments. Material, technology and purely aesthetic choices abound but these can knock up the price significantly.
What Porsche has managed to do is build a soft-roader estate with marvels of performance thereby completely broadening this car’s level of appeal and practicality. The standard ride height is higher than a normal Taycan though it still looks low-slung and aerodynamically astute. The wheels optioned on our test car were Offroad Design 20-inch items surrounded by Pirelli Cinturato P7 245/45 rubber at the front and 265/40 at the rear. These make for a balance between performance and unworrying off-road driving.
I was keen to thoroughly test this excess of competence promised by the Cross Turismo. My first foray was an epic 700km roadtrip to and from Mpumalanga province. With my plug-point planning done, I loaded the entire family into the Frozen Blue estate for a day jaunt into the winding heartland of MP tarmac. One stop at the Alzu Petroport on the N4 juiced us back up to 99% in a matter of 50 minutes (from 32%) and that was our one ‘stop’ along the route. We spiked the range anxiety meter by some margin when we returned home in the evening with some 11% left. But the roadtrip was successful on many levels. The Taycan Cross Turismo in 4S guise is immensely impressive. A ride quality that is beyond superb is married with a performance envelope that shocked a would-be troop of Superbike Riders working their way back to Jozi that evening. The requisite helmet-clad head shaking and universal dive sign for ‘OK’ was enough to earn their respect at the unbelievable punch of the estate car.
Nothing rides with the comfort and silence of this Taycan Cross Turismo, even on some of the most unforgiving roads. The adjustable air suspension plays its part here as does the cabin quality and void of silence. NVH? Non-existent.
Upon our return to the ‘Big Smoke’ there had to be a casual drive off the safety and silence of the tarmac and onto some dusty sections of gravel in the Northern Farm areas where maizes of gravel roads track across many unpopular landscapes. The roads are quiet, the majestic dusk views disturbed by the hulking steel of electricity pylons that extend far into the Jozi city lights that they power. The irony of what we’re driving dawns on us. The electric car is nigh.
Philosophical pondering over, I’m once again taken at the ludicrous ability of the Taycan on really poor gravel roads. The GRAVEL button on the touch pad raises the ride height (part of the Offroad Design Pack) and also tweaks throttle, suspension and traction settings to deal with the harsher ride and reduced grip. Nothing is dulled on the power though and the ride quality remains excellent. The car just feels lighter than its quoted 2,320 kg. It’s nimble and playful and confidence-inspiring.
To settle those wondering about the power figures and acceleration times, here goes:
Power – 360kW in normal, everyday driving. 420kW in OverBoost i.e when launch control is activated. 0 – 100 kph is dealt with in 4,0-seconds(our tested figure) and Porsche claims a top speed of 240 kph but we were able to see 246 kph. Yes in a closed environment.
The car you really want, with all the cool and practical spec, can cost a further R380k on the list price and that’s not including some items that you may still want such as a 3D Burmester audio system. It’s huge money no matter what. This R380k was purely my own personal tastes and I didn’t think I went all in – so this is something to consider.
Even at that price, the only competitor to the Cross Turismo would be the Jaguar i-Pace as far as practical elements are concerned. The dynamic performance of the Taycan CT is far superior but if you’re really into electric practicality, the choice is there with the Jag being slightly cheaper too.
And then of course, the charging system infrastructure and support is another gulp if you really want to spend long hours in the car looking for places to visit in your Baby Blue electric car…which you will because it’s just so good. That takes considered planning and considered contingencies so bear this in mind too. Fast-charging infrastructure remains fairly rare and that really is the only sensible choice when you’re on the move.
The Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo is brimming with things to be praised. From its uncluttered and navigable cabin functionality to its build-quality and its mix of handling and performance ability, even off the tarmac, there isn’t much to fault on this car. The flexibility of use is what really sets it apart.
It’s an all-in sportscar that just happens to be available in an estate body style that just happens to be able to go off-road that just happens to be electric. Can you stomach the cost? If so, don’t hesitate.