A bit Macan, a bit Panamera, all electric. As the Mission E nears production as the Taycan, we drive the prototype SUV-style Cross Turismo. By Georg Kacher
FLOORING THE THROTTLE flattens every climb. Give it stick and it feels like a winch-powered glider just before it lets go of the tow hook or a monorail thundering through the esses.
Physical, immediate, awe-inspiring. Suddenly, high-end battery electric vehicles seem to be all positives, with no drawbacks.
And then you try to charge it, relying on infrastructure that is far from adequate, and you start to think again. But maybe that won’t be a problem by the time the Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo goes into production, likely to be three years from now.
By then they may also have decided what it’s actually called. What you see here is a rolling prototype based on the Cross Turismo concept from this year’s Geneva show. That was, in turn, a variation on the Mission E concept first shown in 2015. Porsche recently announced that the production version of the Mission E will be called Taycan when it arrives next year. Whether that means the Cross Turismo will also be a Taycan is unclear, not least because Porsche has not confirmed that this SUV-style electric super-hatch is definitely going to happen.
But of course it is, and probably in something very close to this form. It shares its underpinnings with the Taycan, but it has slightly more ground clearance, more prominent wheelarches and a revised body that merges some unique touches with elements of Macan and Panamera Sports Turismo.
There’s an underfloor battery pack, one electric motor in the front and one in the back (with the potential for another), driving all four wheels via a two-speed transmission. The steering is electrically assisted, and there will be rear-wheel steering and air suspension, but neither is fitted to this car, which is a little shy of the likely system output of around 64obhp. An electronically controlled rear differential lock is likely to be an option.
It has conventional brakes - with carbon-ceramic composites an option - combined with a regenerative braking function. But definitely not a Nissan Leaf-style one-pedal braking system, where lifting off the gas can bring you to a halt. Why not? ‘Because one-pedal is not our philosophy,’ says Stefan Weckbach, Porsche’s global head of electrification. ‘This is a proper sports car, and as such its mission is untamed acceleration and instant torque, not liftoff braking.’
Like the lower, sleeker Taycan, the Cross Turismo is a striking-looking car - although the Geneva unveiling was met with a mixed response from North America, where they’d prefer a butch full-SUV look. The 911-echoing shape of the body may be great for signalling that this is indeed a Porsche sports car, but it means there’s not a huge amount of room inside, where it’s more junior Panamera than Macan. There’s enough front legroom, but shoulder room is trimmed by the tapered greenhouse, and adults won’t enjoy the headroom in the two rear seats.
The dash aims for simplicity, but the centre stack is a distracting touch-zoom-push-slide affair, the display above it is filled with a bunch of swipeaway tiles, and the very same layout is duplicated on the passenger side. The steering wheel is festooned with buttons and thumbwheels, as well as a contrasting straightahead marker.
You’ll search in vain for the ignition key or a starter button. Instead, there is a small on-off touch area to the left of the steering column. The gear selector, labelled simply PRND, sits at 2 o’clock behind the wheel, and you have driving modes to play with: Normal, Range, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual.
(There may also be Eco, Wet and Off Road modes in the finished car.) Normal is all about lift-off coasting, Sport and Sport Plus are quite close together, Range does its best to ease anxiety, and Individual lets you tweak suspension, steering, stability control, drivetrain and soundtrack.
The neatest part of the new instrument panel is the lozenge-shaped main read-out, inspired by the dials in the first 911. Together with the optional head-up display, it tells you everything you need to know, although the digital speedo should be about three times bigger. Instead of a tacho, the centre of attention is a combined state-of-charge and range read-out.
Despite a substantial kerbweight of 2150kg, the Cross Turismo can accelerate to 62mph in less than 3.5 seconds and go on to i65mph, we’re told, although we experienced neither of those. We did, however, get to experience its phenomenal traction, helped by its low centre of gravity and near-perfect weight distribution. Even at speed, this car is as firmly planted as a limpet in concrete.
For Weckbach’s team, high performance that could only be delivered in short bursts wouldn’t have been good enough. They’ve created a car that can do long flat-out autobahn stretches without overheating, and deliver hard acceleration as strongly when the battery is freshly charged as when it’s nearing empty.
Porsche is anticipating a range of around 250 miles on a full charge. All the Mission E models will be compatible with an 8oo-volt fast charging network that’s currently under construction, but can also work with public chargers, domestic wallbox, wireless induction or - if you’ve got 30 hours to kill - a domestic plug.
Expect pricing to roughly shadow that of the Panamera Sport Turismo, so starting at just over £70,000 and topping out around £120,000. The 2019 Taycan is expected to come with a choice of power outputs, echoing the way the 911 progresses from Carrera to Carrera S to Turbo, but whether the Cross Turismo will follow that pattern is yet to be seen.
Those details will be important, but for now the heartening news is that the fundamentals are so well sorted.
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FORSCHE CROSS TURISMO
> Engine : Twin e-motors, underfloor' battery, 644bhp, 6271b ft (est)'
> Transmission : 2-speed auto, all-wheel drive
> Performance : 3.5sec 0-62mph, 165mph, 250-mile range (est)
> Weight : 2150kg
> On sale : 2021
Cramped in the back, inadequate charging infrastructure
Extremely promising prototype
★ ★ ★ ★ ★