Payne: Through Hell, Lansing, and a reefer shop in Porsche’s hyper-fast Cross Turismo EV

Posted by Talbot Payne on June 29, 2021

My road to Hell (Michigan) in the wicked-fast, 2022 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo was paved with good impressions. Though I had to recharge at a weed shop to get there. Porsche’s latest electric vehicle highlights the paradox of performance EVs: state-of-the-art cyborgs dependent on an unreliable charging network to survive.

Let me tell you about a day on the electric frontier in one of the world’s quickest EVs.

The 2022 Cross Turismo, if you’ve been living on Mars, is the much-anticipated sequel to Porsche’s first EV, the Taycan performance sedan. With a hatchback, bike rack anchors and standard all-wheel drive, Cross Turismo is to Porsche’s electric lineup what Panamera is to gas-powered Porsches — a family crossover (ahem, don’t call it a wagon) with shocking speed.

Porsche established its electric vehicle line in 2020 — not with an electrified version of its iconic 911 super-sportscar — but a sedan, the Taycan. With its stunning looks and heavenly handling, it established Porsche as the pinnacle of EV performance.

The Cross Turismo, the brand’s second EV, takes the Taycan and adds a dose of practicality. But, as I have found after owning a lightning-quick Tesla Model 3 Performance model, practicality is a relevant term in the world of EVs.

My Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo begged to be driven hard, yet the realities of the electric charging grid demanded restraint. Like Odysseus plugging his ears with beeswax, I spent the day resisting the Turbo Cross Turismo’s siren call lest I be shipwrecked without charge on the side of the road.

Hatchback. The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo gains hatch utility over sibling Taycan sedan.

I received the Porsche in my driveway at 9 a.m. on a June weekday with a near-full charge of 197 miles of range, and proceeded to plan my day around the EV. This drives Mrs. Payne crazy. In gas-powered cars, you simply jump in and go knowing refueling infrastructure is everywhere. In an EV — even one as sophisticated as Cross Turismo — you have to plan your trip around its range.

Any divergence can throw off your day. My plan: Drive 80 miles to Lansing for a photo shoot with my speed-addled, Taycan-owning, industry-expert pal Patrick. Then 50 miles south to Hell for playtime on Michigan’s mightiest twisties. Then 50 miles home to Bloomfield Hills. Total mileage: 180, with cushion for range anxiety.

To maximize range I selected RANGE mode (similar to ECO mode in other vehicles) predicting 205 miles of range. SPORT MODE (Boowahaha!) would have to wait.

Merging onto I-96 via cloverleaf, I stomped the throttle — ZOT! — and the dual motors delivered instant 626-pound feet of torque. Easy, Payne. Gotta save the electrons for Hell. I maintained a speed of 72 mph in the slow lane (above which range starts to deteriorate), while morning traffic streamed by at 80-90 mph. Not an easy thing to tolerate in a Porsche.

Though not as sleek as the Taycan sedan, Cross Turismo is still a looker with its low, wide proportions. An Audi Q7 cruised alongside me for awhile, the first of a few rubberneckers.

The frunk (front trunk) of the 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo can swallow a small suitcase or charging bag.

I set adaptive cruise control (Porsche calls it InnoDrive and it will cost you, ahem, $3,610. Welcome to Porsche’s a la carte options menu).

InnoDrive’s lane-keep feature navigated curves confidently while I got familiar with Cross Turismo’s comfy cockpit (two-tone Club Leather Olea Black/Atacama Beige seats option: $7,140). It looks the same as the Taycan sedan save Gravel mode (more on that in later). Per Porsche tradition, the start button is on the left dash — just like the Le Mans racers who ran to their cars, jumped in and fired the car in one motion. Toggle shifter on the dash. Curved, digital LCD screen behind the steering wheel.

Porsche-files will find the controls familiar, unlike, say, a Tesla Model S which is radically different from other cars. Different, too, is the option of piping in an artificial engine growl ($500) to the cabin — whereas Tesla revels in its silence. A programmable steering-wheel button allowed me to turn the sound on/off at my whim.

My Turbo tester ups the power from 375 horses on the standard, Taycan 4S Cross Turismo to 616. It was also a German spec car (U.S. models won’t arrive until this fall), which meant the navigation system was useless and only FM radio available. No worries, I had my phone.

I parked the Cross Turismo next to my friend Patrick’s Taycan at his North Lansing office park. He loved it. It was even the same deep blue as his car. He allowed how the Cross Turismo would be his preference given the hatchback’s easy utility (14.3 to 15.7 cubic feet, vs. 12.9 to 14.3 cubic feet for the sedan) and extra 3.6 inches of headroom.

After charging for two hours a 240-volt charger at Skymint, the 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo gained 24 precious miles for Payne's trip to Hell, then home.

He won’t be alone. Different from the Taycan sedan, Cross Turismo comes standard with all-wheel drive, big battery and sunroof, making it a better value.

After shooting the two supermodels together, conversation turned to charging. I had driven 83 miles and taken 75 miles off the battery — yet my range anxiety was tingling as I contemplated my trip to Hell’s delicious roads. I wanted more range in the bank. But where to charge?

Electrify America has a supercharger in Lansing — but it was 20 minutes out of my way (not including 20 minutes to charge).

Pat pointed to a Skymint marijuana shop with a 240-volt, customer charger just down the street. With charging infrastructure scarce, such outlets are essential.

While the Porsche inhaled electrons at the reefer charger, I got some work done in Pat’s office — then wandered back to the joint (pun intended) to buy something in return for the free charge. Pat and I are squares — I don’t drink or smoke, much less do weed — but fortunately Skymint also sells T-shirts and Snoop Dogg cookbooks.

Two hours later, my Cross Turismo had gained 24 miles of charge (by comparison, a gallon of gas will give you similar mileage, but fill in 5 seconds). It would prove crucial to my journey. I bid Pat farewell and headed to Hell.

For 50 more miles, I kept the bridle on Cross Turismo’s 616 horses. Then I released their full fury.

Select Sport Mode. Turn off traction control. Flatten both pedals to set Launch Control (increasing horsepower to 670). Release brake.

The electric silence was broken with an assault on the senses. Six hundred and twenty-six pound feet of instant torque buried my spine in the seat. Twin motors screamed. A hellish, artificial roar filled the cabin. The landscape blurred as 60 mph went by in just over three seconds. Cross Turismo meet Gran Turismo.

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, right, is the hatchback version of the Taycan sedan, left, and the German performance brand's second EV.

Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster has nothing over the Taycan Cross Turismo. The rollercoaster ride didn’t end there, with the 5,200-pound sled gulping pavement at an astonishing clip. With 93.4 kW of battery in its belly and air suspension taut, the beast stuck like flypaper to Patterson Lake Road’s undulating surface. Turn-in was Porsche-sharp. Brakes vice-like. I dismissed cars in my way with a stab of the accelerator pedal.

Who needs drugs? But the fun comes at a price. The 24 miles I gained in Lansing quickly disappeared. For kicks, I also ventured briefly off-asphalt — employing Gravel mode (which can lock wheels in an electronic simulation of a Jeep’s locking diffs) and Cross Turismo’s additional 1.6 inches of ride height.

But with low-profile 21-inch tires, the torque-tastic Taycan’s thrills are on road. A Panamera feels like a slug in comparison. I holstered my lead right foot, put Cross Turismo back in Range mode and headed home — arriving with just 19 miles of range left.

EVs are for the niche buyers willing to accept their inferior refueling habits. For Porsche buyers with disposable income (and another 2 grand to install a 240-volt charger at their home/Up North cottage/Florida condo), the Cross Turismo is a new EV toy for their stable.

Porsche — there is no substitute.

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo comes standard with all-wheel drive and panoramic sunroof.

2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger SUV

Price: $92,250, including $1,350 destination fee (Turbo Cross Turismo: $154,850 standard, $190,550 as tested)

Powerplant: 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery with twin electric-motor drive

Power: 616 horsepower (670 hp with launch control), 626 pound-feet torque

Transmission: Single-speed direct drive/front axle and two-speed/rear axle

Performance: 0-60 mph, 3.1 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 155 mph

Weight: 5,200 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA MPGe 89 city/98 highway; range, 204 miles

Report card

Highs: Exhilarating acceleration and handling; eye-catching design

Lows: Tedious charging network; options alone can run $35K-plus

Overall: 3 stars

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