2nd Place: Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Highs: Arresting looks, time-warping acceleration, range is a nonissue.
Lows: Lacking in storage and rear-seat space, all-the-money price.
Verdict: Porsche creates the Porsche of EVs, applies Porsche pricing.
Getting in and out of the Taycan's low-mounted front seats and around the intrusively thick base of the B-pillars is moderately bothersome. But once you're in there, the view forward is the perfect blend of retreating hood and bulging fenders. Thanks to the aggressive roofline, the rearward view is, well, slitty, but the exterior presence it enables is totally worth it.
Driving it only furthers the sports-car sensation. It feels impossibly solid, so approachable and trusty that you find yourself comfortably flirting with its extremely high limits on the first on-ramp. Which is very Porsche, and very high praise for a car that weighs 5246 pounds. Part of the magic is in its great steering, with a tight on-center valley followed by linear effort buildup. And despite our car's 21-inch wheels, Porsche continues to impress in its unwavering commitment to ride quality.
But these are all typical Porsche characteristics, and let's be honest, we fully expected the company to nail them. But does it move forward the EV state of the art?
Both cars are spectacular allies in a world of merging lanes and general traffic congestion. They can effortlessly vacate the space they occupied only an instant before, pouncing on the smallest of gaps. Enabling—no, encouraging—this megalomania are identical 1.1-second 30-to-50-mph and 1.6-second 50-to-70-mph acceleration times, the quickest we've ever measured.
But the Taycan's launch control hits harder than the Model S's, smacking us with 1.3 g's of initial acceleration long enough to befog our noggin. Is this what passing through a time-travel portal feels like? After we retrieved our hand-held radio, sunglasses, and clipboard from the back seat, we eyeballed the data: 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and the quarter-mile in 10.5 at 130 mph—the latter including a shift from the two-speed transmission that is on the rear axle. Unlike the Tesla, the Porsche will replicate those numbers over and over again. Plus, the Taycan's relative silence and ease of enabling launch control (select Sport Plus mode, hold brake and accelerator, release brake) means that it can be deployed nearly anywhere—at your neighborhood four-way stop, in a parking garage—without causing hysteria.
More surprisingly, the Porsche held its own in our 75-mph range test. While the EPA says there's a 134-mile difference in the range between the two, extrapolating from our 100-mile run, the real-world difference amounts to 10 miles in the Tesla's favor. The Taycan also won the other speed test, with its consistently higher charging rate providing quicker recharging. Tesla's Supercharger network might have more stations, but it also has more users, and Tesla owners have faced long queues just to plug in during peak travel times. At the Electrify America outpost where we charged the Porsche, 15 other plugs went unused the entire time we were there.
There was some disagreement over whether the Taycan's sci-fi electric soundtrack is appropriate or not, but the amplified Star Wars Landspeeder–esque noises are at least based in reality, originating from recordings of the Porsche's electric motors on a dyno. And not that the low and wide Taycan needs any help, but the whir does draw attention, creating visible confusion as bystanders try to identify the vessel zooming by.
And what a vessel it is. Judged from the driver's seat alone, the Taycan is the better car. It meets the high expectations of this storied brand, proves its real-world range, and moves the EV bar on a couple fronts. But price is always a factor; in this case, an insurmountable one.