The Porsche Taycan 4S is equal parts wintertime warrior and drift machine
The level of grip is almost frustratingly high. With gobs of torque being shuffled between all four wheels, and said wheels wrapped in sophisticated, studded snow tires, it's surprisingly hard to get the Porsche Tacyan 4S to break its back end loose -- even on a super-slick surface like the frozen lake I'm driving across in northern Finland. In fact, it's not until I completely disable traction control, turn the steering wheel and goose the throttle that the Taycan's ass end finally rotates around. Ease off the throttle and dial back the steering angle, and before I know it, the Taycan is ripping off a beautiful, controlled drift, leaving a huge plume of snow in its wake.
The best thing I can say about the new Taycan 4S is that it truly drives like a Porsche. Whether I'm blasting along a snow-covered road in one of the prettiest wintertime scenes you could ever imagine, or drifting my way through a figure-eight course at Porsche's Ice Experience center, the newest member of the Taycan family drives with the sort of composure, balance and precision I've come to expect from any of the company's sports cars.
If you read reviews editor Andrew Krok's recent account of driving the Taycan 4S in the canyons north of Los Angeles, you'll know that it doesn't give up much in the way of performance compared to the more powerful Turbo and Turbo S variants. Yes, it takes the 4S 3.8 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph, compared to the Turbo's 4.0-second run. But when all that electric torque -- 479 pound-feet in this case -- hits the Taycan's four wheels, the instant acceleration is every bit as exciting.
The Taycan is incredibly easy to control, too, which is a godsend when the limits of adhesion are constantly changing beneath me. On snowy Finnish roads, the Taycan never once gets squirrely, its studded tires clawing through the powder, surefooted and secure. The EV's low center of gravity, predictable and linear torque delivery, near-perfect weight balance and direct steering response all work together to make it super easy to drive quickly on slippery surfaces.
The only thing I don't like is the brake pedal. Like many of my colleagues, I wish it wasn't so vague and spongy in its action. And I definitely miss not being able to one-pedal drive with heavy regenerative braking, like I can in other EVs, though I understand that Porsche wanted to make the Taycan feel as similar to its other cars as possible, which is why it opted not to apply strong off-pedal regen.
Porsche thought a lot about thermal management when developing the Taycan, and since the car can precondition its batteries at low temperatures, the company says there's no lack of performance, no matter how cold it is outside. Freezing temps do take a toll on range, of course, though the ability to keep the battery warm helps mitigate this loss slightly. Porsche says the Taycan 4S with the larger performance battery option can go roughly 463 kilometers (about 288 miles) in ideal conditions, according to the European WLTP cycle. (US-specific EPA numbers are still TBD.) After my 150-kilometer drive in the Arctic, which included several stops for photos with the car left on, liberal use of the climate control and a number of totally awesome hard launches through packed snow, my test car's battery showed a 41% state of charge.
An afternoon at the Porsche Ice Experience course in Levi, Finland, lets me dig a little deeper into the Taycan's cold-weather performance abilities. This is where the Taycan's incredible grip almost seems to work against me. Combined with the aforementioned winter tires, I'm shocked at how difficult it is to upset the Taycan. My first few laps around a slalom course are precise, and frankly, too drama-free. Maybe I'm just being too timid, but even when I get a little ham-fisted with my steering and throttle inputs, the Taycan is super easy to rein in.
At higher speeds on the figure-eight course, putting the traction control into its sport and full-off settings gives the Taycan a slightly more playful edge. But once again, the big EV never feels like it's getting away from me. A flick of the steering and a stab of the brakes, and it's easy to put the Taycan into a slide as I round the top and bottom sections of the figure-eight track. Keep the steering angle mostly neutral, use the throttle to "steer" the rear end and that's when the all-wheel-drive Taycan will pull off its best sideways ice capades.
This same technique can be used to execute longer drifts -- as soon as I get the Taycan to rotate, anyway. On a big circle track, the EV has no trouble sliding all the way around. The steering and throttle inputs become sort of a dual balancing act, keeping both in perfect harmony with the movements of the car. Lap after lap after lap, I'm getting dizzy, but hardly bored.
What does all of this winter driving teach me about the Porsche Taycan 4S? First and foremost, that the 4S experience is largely the same as other Taycan models. You can order a Taycan 4S with all of the great features available on the Turbo models -- rear-axle steering, Porsche's Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), torque-vectoring tech and more. And while it's slightly slower to accelerate, it's still plenty quick. Plus, the 4S doesn't give up anything in the way of killer looks or a comfortable, tech-forward interior. It's the whole package, just less expensive.
The other big takeaway is just how fantastic the Taycan is to drive in slippery conditions. Fit it with the correct tires, and the Taycan 4S is a proper winter warrior. The predictable torque from the electric powertrain, and the inherent afforded by having all those batteries in the middle of the chassis, makes the big sedan easy to control on snow and ice. And hey, if winter-weather shenanigans are more your speed, rest assured the Taycan is a hoot and a half in that regard, as well.