Let's off road
By Dan Prosser / Saturday, September 25, 2021 / Loading comments
The Cross Turismo isn’t merely a Taycan estate. It does have the long roof, improved rear headroom and bigger boot you’d expect of a wagon, but Porsche wants this variant to be thought of as a slightly rugged off-roader with a sense of adventure, rather than just a more utilitarian Taycan. That’s why it has black plastic wheel arch extensions paying homage, I believe, to the genre-defining Rover Streetwise of 2003.
So it’s not just the estate version. With the Off-Road Design package that’s fitted here (£1,161) the wheel arch trims are complimented, if that’s the right word, by a handful of shark fins and styling flaps here and there, also in black plastic, plus a little more ground clearance. With that optional package, the Cross Turismo sits 30mm higher off the ground than a Taycan saloon.
You get more boot space but a surprisingly narrow load bay (and a sharply raked rear screen that means you won’t be carting any wardrobes around), plus an additional 47mm of headroom for rear seat passengers over the saloon. So the Cross Turismo really is a more usable sort of Taycan, even if that slightly fanciful stuff about it being an off-roader doesn’t quite ring true. You could take it places you wouldn’t any other Taycan – along a moderately rutted gravel track, perhaps – but it isn’t immediately clear that anybody actually will.
Its cabin is as excellent as any other Taycan’s with good materials and exceptional build quality, plus a very Porsche-like driving position and an intuitive touchscreen infotainment system with crisp displays. But I didn’t get on with the seat fabric, finding that its coarse texture rubbed uncomfortably against the skin on my back through my T-shirt. I think I’d have to wear a second layer at all times.
The rear part of the Cross Turismo’s cabin does feel more spacious than the saloon’s, but there still isn’t anything like the airiness or room to lounge about that you find in a Panamera, or even something like a BMW 5 Series. Still, you’ll so enjoy the uncluttered ambience of the front part of the cabin you’ll scarcely hear your rear seat passengers moaning about the lack of knee room.
In every other way the Cross Turismo is much like the Taycan saloon, including the complexion of the model line-up. This is the mid-range 4S, with all-wheel drive (by one motor on each axle) and a very healthy 571hp on overboost, or 490hp the rest of the time. The Performance Battery Plus is standard fit on the Cross Turismo, its 93.4kWh capacity giving a combined WLTP range of 277 miles.
In the loftier reaches of the line-up are the Turbo and Turbo S models with as much as 761hp, while at its base you won’t find a single-motor variant with rear-wheel drive as you will in the Taycan saloon range, but a dual-motor version with four-wheel drive badged Cross Turismo 4 – presumably so as to not undermine those dubious off-roading pretensions.
You can (in theory) spend as little as £81,500 on a Cross Turismo or as much as £140,360, or rather more than that if you get busy with the options list. This 4S starts at £88,270, while the car I drove would cost you a little over £100,000 thanks to extras like a leather-free interior (£2,538), a panoramic roof (£1,137) and 20-inch wheels (£1,776).
The car offers an almost bewildering degree of configurability. There are the usual drive modes you’d expect of a Porsche plus one labelled Range and another called Gravel, which gives more ground clearance again. You can then choose your level of energy recuperation under braking and whether the warbling Porsche Electric Sport Sound function (a £354 option) is on or off. Then you can switch between three damper modes and, on top of all of that, pick one of five ride height settings.
Unexpectedly, you can even configure the car in what would seem to be a paradoxical way – Sport Plus driving mode, a tall ride height and the firmest dampers, for instance. Or Normal drive mode, the lowest ride height and the softest dampers. In truth, it’s all so much more than the typical owner will ever bother with. I suspect switching between Normal and Sport and leaving all other parameters to their own devices would cover 95 per cent of scenarios.
If you do toy with the settings endlessly like I found I did, you will at some point fling the Cross Turismo at a quick bend while its air springs are all full extension and the dampers all lovely and plush, and find that it lurches heavily this way and that. And thanks to the Cross Turismo’s additional ground clearance compared to the saloon, it doesn’t always exhibit that model’s remarkable locked-down stability and iron-clad body control. It can be just a little floatier at speed, leaning a touch harder in tighter bends.
But that’s where all those various drive modes come in. If you want to spank a Cross Turismo along a rollicking B-road there’ll be the right setting for it, and there you find the same control, precision and response that makes the regular Taycan so surprisingly athletic to drive. You also feel the same brilliantly precise and intuitive steering, which even telegraphs some of what the front tyres are up to when you really push the car to its limits.
There is seemingly limitless traction and masses of grip, and the kind of natural balance that comes from not having a whacking great engine pressing down hard on one axle. It all means you can really press on in a Cross Turismo, hearing beneath the strange, digitised soundtrack the outside two tyres – the rear when you first chuck the car into a bend and the front from entry all the way to the exit – howling in pain as they struggle to contain all the inconceivable forces of a 2.2-tonne, 500hp electric performance car being driven like it’s a 911.
It isn’t fun the way a 911 can be, but it is mighty impressive. Better still is just how serene the Cross Turismo is in normal driving or at a cruise. The ride is supremely comfortable, the body always calm and level no matter what the asphalt is doing beneath you, while wind and road noise are suppressed to the faintest murmur. It feels indecently quick at low and moderate speeds, fast enough that I can’t believe you’d ever miss the additional surge you get under acceleration from the Turbo models. Mind you, wouldn’t the cheaper Cross Turismo 4’s 380hp also be sufficient?
Porsche has tried hard to differentiate this model from the saloon beyond its longer roof and bigger boot. Whether you buy into the off-road stuff or not, the result is a more versatile kind of Taycan and a type of EV that nobody else currently builds. The Cross Turismo really is a superb piece of work, building to good effect on the foundations set down 18 years ago by the Rover Streetwise.
SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE TAYCAN CROSS TURISMO
Engine: Permanently excited electric motor, one per axle, 93.4kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed (front) twin-speed (rear), all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 571 (launch control overboost, otherwise 490)
Torque (lb ft): 479 (launch control maximum)
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,220kg (EU unladen)
MPG: N/A (277-mile range)
CO2: 0g/km (driving)
Price: £88,270 (Price as tested, £102,961; Ice Grey Metallic £1,683.00 Black leather-free interior £2,538.00 Offroad Design Package £1,161.00 Side window trims in black (high-gloss) £245.00 Model designation painted in matt black £168.00 Preparation for rear bike carrier £345.00 Porsche Electric Sport Sound £354.00 Sport Chrono Package including compass display on the dashboard £788.00 20-Inch Taycan Turbo design wheels £1,776.00 Tyre sealing compound and electric air compressor £42.00 Automatically dimming exterior and interior mirrors £294.00 Panoramic roof, fixed £1,137.00 ParkAssist including Surround View £522.00 4+1 Seats £336.00 Ioniser £203.00 Driver memory package £257.00 Ambient lighting £299.00 Heated steering wheel (for leather-free interior with Sport Chrono) £189.00 BOSE® surround sound system £956.00 On-Board AC-Charger with 22 kW £1,179.00 Public charging cable (Mode 3) £210.00 First Aid Kit £9.00)
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