The all-electric 2020 Porsche Taycan debuted earlier this year, but we haven’t had a chance to check one out in person until it showed up at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show along with a new variant: the Taycan 4S. The 4S is the third variant of the Taycan to be announced, joining the previously detailed Turbo and Turbo S.
Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
Details on the 4S emerged in October, and for a supposedly “lower” version of the Taycan, its numbers are still awfully impressive: 522 horsepower (or 563 hp with the larger battery), all-wheel drive, 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. The Taycan 4S also comes with a price tag to match: $105,150 or $111,730 with the extended battery (both prices include the destination charge).
Our time at the auto show gave me a chance to get familiar with Porsche’s new control scheme that the Taycan brings along. Admittedly, it looks quite cool and futuristic, but it seems to work better in theory than in execution.
There are a lot of screens in the Taycan. A lot. A large, curved screen forms the instrument panel, and there’s at least one multimedia touchscreen in the center of the dash, with an optional multimedia screen in front of the front passenger. This screen provides redundant functionality from the main screen, giving the passenger access to navigation, media functions and a cockpit view that shows the current speed and drive mode. Below the center dashboard screen is another screen, which houses the climate controls, and a lower portion of that screen can be used as a touchpad to operate the screen above it. That’s right: a screen to control a screen. That lower screen also houses important functions, including releases for both the front and rear trunks.
The instrument panel screen in front of the driver is my favorite part of the execution because it’s easy to digest the information. It’s also easy to swap between different views using the thumbwheel on the steering wheel, and the size of the map can either span the middle or the width of the display (a la Audi). There’s even a minimalist view that shows only your speed. It integrates nicely into the dash, and though there are capacitive controls on the sides of the screen for things like the headlights and suspension settings, at least they’re easily visible because of their placement — my hand fell to them easily without having to look too far down.
I’m less optimistic about the center stack. The climate controls at least provide some haptic feedback and you have to intentionally press down on the screen to activate controls, which is good. But I can’t help thinking it’s overcomplicating something simple. There’s no volume knob, just two buttons at the bottom of the lower screen to raise and lower the volume.
It’s also clumsy to use the bottom screen to control the upper screen because you need it as a controller — there’s no way for the driver to reach the screen in front of the passenger side. But even sitting still, it was hard to navigate the gold-highlighted box on the top screen; somehow, the way to make a touchpad worse in a car is to make it fully digital.
The four-seat Taycan’s interior does have rather luxurious trappings, which is expected from a car of this price. All four seats are quite comfortable, and cabin materials are nearly impeccable. Though the backseat might appear to have a lot of headroom thanks to a large glass roof, it’s a bit of an illusion: The side of the roof cuts down pretty far and I hit the headliner when I turned my head to look outside.
Final judgments for the electric Taycan will have to wait for on-road testing; it could be that the screens end up being easier to use while on the move than I’m surmising. But my trouble navigating the system while static doesn’t exactly bode well. We’re also waiting to hear final EPA range estimates for all Taycan models, as the number Porsche provided are on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure scale, and there’s no way to directly translate them to EPA figures.
The Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are set to hit U.S. dealers late this year, with the 4S to follow in the spring of 2020.
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