Porsche Taycan and Audi e-Tron GT : An electric family tree

The Audi electric RS e-Tron GT. (Photo: NYTimes)
As far as we can tell, Henry Ford and other auto pioneers made no attempt to imitate the nostalgic clopping of hooves or the smell of, er, hay.اضافة اعلان

But even as automakers look to wean drivers off internal combustion, they are not abandoning valuable brand signatures honed over decades — the look, feel, or even sounds of “old tech” analog cars. Think the muscle-car cues of Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E or the relentless scrutiny of towing capacity and other truck-stop bona fides for the Ford F-150 Lightning.

Then there are the new Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo and Audi RS e-Tron GT. These precocious siblings, which I drove and charged in New York, share a Volkswagen Group parent. Furthermore, they share a corporate “J1” electric platform and much of their formidable powertrains.

At first glance, the cars do not appear genetically related. The Porsche is the Peter Parker dream of every station wagon nerd, combining up to 750 all-wheel-drive horsepower with uncanny grip and superhero handling. The e-Tron GT is a smoldering, broad-shouldered autobahn sedan with up to 637 horses of its own.

The electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo. (Photo: NYTimes)

These cars are priced beyond typical means; the most affordable Taycan Cross Turismo can be had for $95,050, and the lowest you will pay for the e-Tron GT is $103,445. Yet both offer hopeful evidence of how long-standing brands might shape-shift into electric automakers without becoming unrecognizable to paying customers.

Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo

The 2020 Taycan sedan was the brand’s first modern all-electric showroom vehicle, but its vivid performance reminded people that Porsche was no newbie. Ferdinand Porsche designed his first electric car in 1898, followed by the race-winning Lohner-Porsche Electromobile in 1900. Ludwig Lohner, his development partner, credited inspiration to air that was “ruthlessly spoiled by the large number of petrol engines in use.”

After Porsche put its $845,000 918 Spyder Hybrid on the street in 2013, a racing 919 Hybrid reeled off three straight 24 Hours of LeMans wins. You can feel all that racing and engineering heritage trickle into the Taycan Cross Turismo and straight into your fingertips. Sedan or wagon, this remains the industry’s sweetest-handling, most fun-to-drive EV, even if it is slower in a straight line than the $131,000 Tesla Model S Plaid.

Some enthusiasts may be confounded by the long-roofed style of a Porsche wagon. To iconoclasts who still love them — count me in — the Cross Turismo will seem a beautiful, magic sleigh. Like another all-weather wagon that trolled brand traditionalists — the discontinued Ferrari GTC4Lusso — the Porsche becomes the new fantasy car for Instagram ski trips, only with zero tailpipe emissions to befoul the slopes of Aspen or Gstaad.

Versus the sedan, the body is lifted by around 2cm. A selectable air suspension can jack things up to Subaru heights, via a “Gravel” mode that optimizes the all-wheel-drive system, suspension, and other parameters for slippery conditions. My version was a 4S, starting from $111,650 and reaching $136,300 with options.

Screens on the dash and console of an electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.  (Photo: NYTimes)

As with the Audi, the Porsche’s stingy, 346km rated range is its weakest feature. The Taycan has proved its ability to exceed that official range in the real world by 80 or so kilometers, but that is not happening in brutal winter temperatures. With not enough stamina for the 354km round trip from Brooklyn, I had to plan a charging stop in Newburgh, New York.

At least charging is fast. The Taycan introduced a powerful 800-volt architecture, versus Tesla’s 400 volts (and now surpassed by Lucid’s 900-volt Air sedan). That helps the Porsche slurp juice at a maximum 270-kilowatt pace, allowing refills to 80 percent capacity in about 22 minutes. That requires a 350-kilowatt charger like the one in Newburgh — part of the Volkswagen-funded Electrify America network. They are expanding their footprint but remain scarce versus Tesla Superchargers.

Even though the charger pushed 150 kilowatts rather than 270 (cold again a likely culprit), the Porsche added 6.5 miles of range for every plugged-in minute. Over 40 minutes, including a charging ramp-down to preserve battery life, my estimated range rose to 337km, from around 73km.

Audi RS e-Tron GT

Perhaps more than any luxury maker, Audi has pushed to make its EVs reassuring and accessible: The e-Trons are Audis first, electric cars second. The original e-Tron SUVs, especially, will pass for the same Audis that haunt every fair-trade coffee roaster and school pickup queue in America.

(Photo: NYTimes)

The e-Tron GT maintains that philosophy, subsuming its electric tech under a voluptuous grand-tourer body and a comforting blanket of Audi luxury. Only this time, it is impossible to ignore the monsters below, which awaken with every prod of your right foot: dual electric motors that peak at 637 horsepower in the RS version. The next thing you know, the monster devours 60 mph, a 3.1-second uprising that leaves you hanging on for dear life. Thank goodness for massive, optional carbon-ceramic brakes, their forceful poise welcome on fast, mini-Alpine descents in the Hudson Valley.

Add the Audi and Porsche to a growing list of 2.5-tonne electric sedans with wild acceleration. The RS e-Tron immediately becomes history’s most-powerful Audi, topping two gasoline stablemates also sired by Papa VW: the R8 V-10 and Lamborghini Huracán supercars. The Audi GT costs less, although that is relative, starting from $103,445. That rises to $140,945 for the RS version and $161,890 for my heavily optioned RS.

EVs have turned minimalist, screen-centric interiors — often in monochromatic tones — into a design cliche. But the e-Tron GT integrates modern tech, including striking “virtual cockpit” displays, with warmth and elegance, another Audi signature it is not ready to abandon. Artistically bolstered front seats are the Eames chairs aboard the Enterprise, wrapped in honeycomb-stitched nappa leather or a herringbone tweed in an animal-free version. The back seat is tight, in the haughty style of luxury GTs: A passenger ought to feel grateful to get a ride.

That RS ride can last only so long, with an official 373km Environmental Protection Agency range, or 383km in the standard version. To its credit, the Audi can replenish miles with the best of them, with its own 350-kilowatt fast-charge ability. But let’s hope a forthcoming Porsche-designed “PPE” platform — shared among EVs including a Macan SUV, an Audi Q6 crossover and a Bentley — goes easier on electrons than this Audi’s 80 to 81 mpg-equivalent rating.

The Taycan and Audi’s RS e-Tron GT, both under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, share a corporate “J1” electric platform, much of their formidable powertrains, and price tags mostly in the six figures.(Photo: NYTimes)

That said, buyers who choose the Audi or Porsche are most likely adding one to a garage already groaning with longer-lasting options. For them, these shorter-range missiles will be a nice problem to have.

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