So what is it like, to embrace not only a brand new GTS offering from Porsche, but to take part in the event itself? Let me take you on a journey in duality, exploring a Porsche Media Drive and of course, exploring the long-awaited Taycan GTS Sport Turismo.
Each hosting brand will have their own take on how a media event should be run, even varying between events. Some may be a product unveiling for first impressions, or in this case, a first drive opportunity. Depending on the number of cars and invited media outlets and personnel, there may be multiple waves of drives. In our case, there were 3 waves, spread across 3 days. Prior to even arriving in the LA area, we all received specific itineraries to our unique experience based on our wave, including detailed times and locations. Attention to detail tends to flow in Porsche’s veins.
I first arrived at the hotel on Marina Del Rey in my Miata, pulling up to valet and getting my room. Many of these events have a flexible initial day for arrival of all the attendees flying or driving in from afar. We then all convened for dinner at the hotel, which was an excellent time to catch up with Porsche’s PR Team and meet or re-engage with other outlets in attendance. This was also an opportunity for initial questions about the product or the drive itself, though most of that info was provided the next morning.
Time to Drive
Setting the Stage
To describe myself as excited would be a bit of an understatement. With any first drive, I am certainly intrigued. With any car, it could be great, or it could be a mess, and that mystery gets me out of bed the morning before a drive. But as for Taycan, it’s already proven itself to me. I wasn’t anticipating a sliding scale of 1 to 10, but rather a 9 to perhaps…11. The Sport Turismo itself is a wagon, shooting brake, or whatever nomenclature you desire, and I was ultimately curious to see how it would handle compared to the sedan.
We initiated the day by attending a briefing presented by Porsche’s Spokesperson for Taycan. It was well-orchestrated and laid-back, essentially a PowerPoint presentation on the overview of the vehicle, high level technical specifications, and unique facets. Between the French Press coffee and crumble-top muffin, I was absolutely zoned in on ever detail coming my way, taking mental and written notes on what to pay specific attention to during the drive. It’s important to come into each drive with curiosity, things to take note of, but also the expectation to be surprised by anything. After the briefing we headed down behind the Ritz Carlton to the water’s edge of the marina. It was that moment I glimpsed heaven, with a 9-car lineup of Taycan variants.
The aforementioned GTS Sport Turismo cars were all in Carmine Red, with a mix of glass roof and metal roof (the metal roof being a European-only option). They were all adorned with the German-spec license plates on the front and George manufacturer plates on the rear, with the 21 inch RS Spyder wheels. We picked our cars, setup any equipment, and oriented ourselves with driving positions and infotainment. Our wave was the first of the three, each wave consisting of 7 Taycan GTS Sport Turismo models, set aside for media personnel to experience the drive. There was also a Taycan sedan and Cross Turismo that Porsche personnel used to run the route.
Due to the German-spec of these vehicles, some features such as in-car navigation and InnoDrive were unavailable, but they are also not crucial to testing most driving dynamics. However, each car came prepped with cables to connect your phone along with QR codes for the predetermined route plan. True to their German roots, every Porsche event is planned to the minute detail, something my type-A personality can appreciate tremendously. However, they also want each unique media outlet to get what suits their needs, so the route was proposed as a guideline rather than a strict course of action. In its defense, Angeles Crest Highway was the indicated route and there aren’t many roads in the country that can beat it. But rather than a convoy of identically paced cars, we all went our own pace and captured our own content. Some filmed multiple videos, others simply drove the route to write about the experience after the fact. So how was it, you ask?
Behind the Wheel
As aforementioned, the driving dynamics of the GTS Sport Turismo was the focus of the event and simultaneously my curiosity. The Out of Spec team has spent many thousands of miles in Taycan variants, but we all agreed that this was the new bar for excellence as far as looks go. In theory, it would drive very similarly to the sedan, albeit with a bit extra weight on the rear. Though subtle, this assumption came to fruition. I had to keep reminding myself I was in a nearly 200-inch-long wagon weighing in at over 5,000 pounds, because in my head, I was storming the mountain in what felt comparable to an electric 911. This was especially true with the rotation around corners, feeling just a bit edgy and excitable.
The suspension tuning in Sport Plus is fantastically planted. It’s on the stiffer side, in contrast with the other J1 platform sister car we recently tested, the Audi RS E-Tron GT. The E-Tron leans more towards Grand Touring, whereas Taycan gives you a slight edge in more direct and rail-like dynamics in the bends. Setting the adaptive suspension back to normal mode is plenty comfortable for daily driving, but Sport and Sport Plus create a feeling of invincibility and endless grip on capable road surfaces. The Sport Turismo suspension is actually more akin to the sedan than the Cross Turismo.
I left traction control engaged and it rarely felt in my way regardless of my pushing its limits, tuned incredibly well for most use-cases. 45 minutes of aggressive driving up 5,000 feet of elevation didn’t phase the Taycan at all, holding on to the very end where we had the lunch stop. Thermal management is excellent, helped in part by the tuned-down larger Turbo motor used in the rear. The front brakes also feature a larger diameter and thickness than lower Taycan trims. Carbon ceramic brakes would definitely benefit in a track environment, but even with my spirited mountain driving I felt almost no brake fade.
I did a variety of launch control launches, providing a full 590 hp and a blistering 3.5 seconds from 0 to 60. The 2-speed gearbox on the rear motor is contested among media, and many find it to be intrusive to an otherwise linear experience. However, I felt that it added to the unique character that is Taycan. The Porsche Electric Sport Sound (PESS) turns on automatically when entering Sport Plus mode, and I enjoyed what it brought to the overall experience. It’s not fake sound, per se, as it was actually recorded on a Taycan motor in a chamber and correlates with your RPM. It was a bit loud at times, but I found that having windows down created the most engaging driving feel, combining PESS with the sound of tires at the limit of mechanical grip and mountain air rushing by. It was interesting to see the variety of grip provided by the tires in correlation to our altitude. The top of the pass was over 7,000 feet and 41ºF, resulting in less grip by the summer tires, but the traction control helped offset any worrisome moments. The battery temperatures at the top peaked at 95º but the car itself stayed entirely capable of full performance, albeit with more fan sounds when pulling into the lunch cafe.
I pulled into the famous Newcomb’s Ranch about halfway to the lunch stop. After a couple photos in front of the sign and a brief chat with a Zero Motorcycle rider, I continued to Wrightwood for lunch. I arrived with 20% state of charge, which was somewhat alarming except for all the downhill straights leading back to our planned charging stop. Stepping out of the car, I walked towards the cafe and looked back at it a minimum of 8 times. What. A. Machine.
How about normal daily driving?
On the 45 minute drive through the city to the base of Angeles Crest, I took notes on its city driving application, including standard city streets and highways, even Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). You won’t find one-pedal driving with Taycan, as they believe it doesn’t suit the ethos of Porsche, but the automatic regenerative braking you can enable was very well-sorted in traffic driving, effectively mimicking one-pedal when cars in front of you cause for automatic braking. The regen itself is one of the best in the industry, capable of providing 265-290 kW back to the battery.
Range mode also features an adjustable limiter, from 55-85 mph. Lane Keep Assist (LKA) is standard, with ACC and InnoDrive as optional extras. In city driving, I found it best to have PESS disabled, as the cabin is wonderfully quiet, and ACC and LKA provided one of the best city driving experiences I have ever had. The 18-way adaptive sport seats are plenty comfortable and adjustable bolstering let me dial it in perfectly for those tight corners. I would be remiss to leave out the amazing variable light control glass roof option. 9 individual liquid crystal film segments can turn transparent or translucent with the press of a button, and can even be set to alternate sections or “roll” the shade up and down. It does make a noticeable difference in cabin temperature and light throughput, plus who doesn’t love a great party trick?
5% State of Charge
We wrapped up the 125 mile drive at an Electrify America charging station. Comparable to gas cars, you can tell how hard it was driven and tested by the amount of energy consumed. I arrived with just 5% state of charge and projected 15 miles of range remaining, but that is definitely due to the state of my driving. When taking it in a leisurely drive in range mode, most people can expect to actually exceed the EPA range estimate.
In normal driving, you can navigate to a charging station and the car will pre-condition the battery to a temperature that will charge faster. With our German-spec cars, that wasn’t an option, but the latest software runs battery temperature a bit warmer. My spirited driving to the charger brought it to 92ºF on the pack, allowing for good charging temperatures. We connected a 350 kW unit and it resulted in 240 kW speeds right away. Putting it back into Sport Plus allowed for maximum cooling, which brought speeds up to 267 kW until 50% when we unplugged it. 5-50% took under 9 minutes, allowing me to drive all the way across the LA area to the hotel.
That’s a Wrap
Upon returning to the Ritz Carlton, I was met with the two Porsche-personnel Taycan models, sedan and Cross Turismo, parked out front to greet me. It was quite the spectacle, and I pulled around to valet my specific GTS Sport Turismo. It was a harsh reality having to hand the keys back to Porsche, as I had fallen in love harder than the drop of my state of charge on the mountain. As aforementioned, I wasn’t expecting this car to be low in its scoring, but I also didn’t expect perfection. But the result of the drive forced me to search hard for any imperfection. My only qualms with Taycan lie in the climate control user interface, and I had a few brief bugs with ACC and even the window motor, but these were all pre-production units. That being said, even the build quality on every single Taycan I interacted with was better than many full-production cars I have seen.
Overall it was a legendary experience I may never forget. GTS is not the top trim, nor is it the entry level, but it does an excellent job at striking the sweet spot of performance that many enthusiasts will find to be right for them. Though it appears to slot between 4S and Turbo trims, Porsche actually views it as a parallel or alternative to Turbo, slotting beneath Turbo S. GTS is a compelling option, and excels at nearly everything you throw its way. Further, Sport Turismo offers more usable storage capacity and an incredible design ethos. Of course there are bigger and more traditional wagons on the market, but for those who want an edge over a sedan while feeling like a sedan, Sport Turismo hits the nail on the head.
P.S. What is an Embargo?
Whether it is a product unveil, first drive, or other event surrounding a new and exciting offering, it is often preceded with information on its embargo. The embargo itself refers to a specific time when information can be released to the public, agreed upon by [hopefully] all parties involved. This allows for equal distribution among media regardless of when they can attend or be briefed on the subject matter.
In this case, having three separate waves of outlets were all met with the same embargo within the following week, allowing for equal opportunity to create and share content all at the same time. Embargo times explain the explosions on your YouTube feed when all the outlets you follow are allowed to share their viewpoints and facts surrounding breaking news. The specific embargo for this piece was for the driving impressions of the GTS Sport Turismo, which is why you have most likely already seen details, photos, specifications, but not actual driving impressions until the moment this is published.