The automotive world is changing freaky fast. SUVs have eclipsed sedans. Electric pickup trucks are a thing. Dashboards look like iPads. And Corvette has put the engine behind the driver. What's next?
Would you believe an electric Porsche station wagon?
The iconic sports car brand unveiled its 2021 Taycan Cross Turismo Thursday, a wagon version of its already radical new Taycan electric sports sedan introduced for the 2020 model year. The EV station wagon is the latest attempt by the Stuttgart-based automaker to leverage its sportscar cred in order to move in to higher volume segments like SUVs and sedans.
Porsche was the first performance sportscar-maker to introduce an SUV — the Cayenne in 2003 — a profitable business model that has been copied by virtually every other performance brand from Aston Martin to Ferrari. Porsche SUV and sedan sales now outstrip sports car sales by nearly 4:1.
Ironically, Porsche's flagship, $100,550 911 sportscar will likely remain gas-powered even as the company promises to electrify half its lineup by 2025. The 911's flat-6 engines are the beating heart of the brand.
"Let me be clear, our icon, the 911, will have a combustion engine for a long time to come," Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said last November. "The 911 is a concept of the car that is prepared for the combustion engine. It's not useful to combine it with pure electric mobility. We believe in purpose-designed cars for electric mobility."
The purpose-designed, swiftly-silent Taycan was an immediate hit in 2020, selling about as many copies as the gas-fired Porsche Cayman/Boxster sports car despite costing twice as much. The Taycan Cross Turismo adds to this mix with increased ground clearance and cargo capacity thanks to its square hatchback.
The wagon version — Porsche insists on calling it a "crossover" — will launch with four variants: the base Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, Taycan 4S Cross Turismo, Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, and Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
Don't be confused by the "turbo" nomenclature (an homage to the 911), the battery-powered Taycan has no turbochargers. It does, however, feature synthetic sound in order to mimic its gas-powered peers' growls and downshifts.
In addition to standard, dual-motor-driven all-wheel drive, all Cross Turismo variants will feature a two-speed transmission, 800-volt battery architecture for more robust charging, and panoramic glass roof.
Combined with the EV sports sedan, the Taycan badge will boast eight different models that can be ordered in over 21,000 combinations.
The squared off hatchback of the Cross Turismo will allow rear seat occupants nearly four inches more headroom. Cargo space of 15.7 cubic feet gains about 1.5 cubes over the Taycan sedan. A "frunk" — front trunk — offers an additional 2.9 cubic feet of storage.
Telegraphing its more off-roady look — think of a Subaru Crosstrek SUV versus its sister Impreza sedan — the Taycan Cross Turismo gains about an inch in ride height, black fender cladding, and unique rocker panels.
Standard air suspension allows drivers to further raise the ride for greater ground clearance. A "Gravel mode" is added for better grip off asphalt, though Porsche emphasizes Cross Turismo is "not designed as a rock crawling off-roader."
Like the sportscars that have come before it, Taycan Cross Turismo's performance envelope is maximized for on-road giggles. With AWD traction, the top-trim Turbo S Cross Turismo can accelerate out of a Woodward stoplight to 60 miles per hour in a breathtaking 2.7 seconds. The base, $92,250 Taycan 4 Cross Turismo will do the deed in 4.8 ticks.
Papa 911 would be proud.
Speaking of gas-gulpers, Porsche is working on synthetic fuels in anticipation of European governments continuing to penalize carbon emissions. Porsche's synthetic gas would have the same carbon footprint as EVs in order to keep its sportscars running for years.
The Taycan Cross Turismo should arrive at U.S. dealerships this summer. It will coincide with the introduction of two new, carbon-fiber electric bicycles.
Yes, Porsche bicycles. Just to keep things freaky.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.