2022 Porsche Taycan GTS First Drive: Split Personality

When Porsche invited us to drive the new GTS version of the Taycan electric sedan at Willow Springs Raceway, we were already saying “yes!” before it could finish asking. We love the way other Taycan variants seamlessly translate the Porsche driving experience to the world of electric cars, and were eager to try this promising new variant on one of our favorite tracks. In retrospect, we’re especially glad for the track time, as it’s perhaps the best way to experience this car’s split personality.

A New GTS Version of the Electric Taycan

The Taycan GTS is positioned in both price and power between the 482-hp Taycan 4S and the 616-hp Taycan Turbo. Output is 509 horsepower (boosted to 590 in launch mode) and 626 lb-ft, split between two motors, one at each axle. As with other all-wheel-drive Taycans, the GTS has a two-speed transmission for the rear motor, while the front remains single-speed.

As with the GTS versions of other Porsche models, there are other performance tweaks, including bigger front brakes (with a carbon-ceramic package as an option), Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM, or Porsche-speak for adaptive damping), and height-adjustable air suspension as standard. Rear-axle steering and active anti-roll bars are options, but the racy blacked-out trim is part and parcel of the GTS package.

Enter the Schoolmarm

At Porsche’s urging, we took our first few laps in our chalk-colored sedan with PASM set to its stiffest Sport Plus setting and the stability control system (PSM, or Porsche Stability Management) in its standard mode. With some of us having been away from Big Willow since before the pandemic, we were prepared to start at a moderate pace, but the Taycan GTS was ready to take on the track at full attack. Thanks to the car’s extraordinary grip, we were able to take our initial lap at speeds right up against the edge of our comfort zone.

Familiarization rapidly returned, and with it more speed, and yet the Taycan GTS remained unfailingly neutral: As we dialed up our speed, it refused to do anything but go exactly where we pointed it, at most slapping our wrists with a little understeer if we pushed too hard into the corners.

Where’d the Power Go?

The Taycan GTS felt like it was giving us all the velocity we dialed up, but for one frustrating corner, Turn 4, a sharp right-hander that unwinds gently. A pivot at the peak of a hill, it’s a sure-fire place to get nearly any car to rotate, but not the Taycan—instead the stability control system would cut in and cut the power, and we’d glide impotently downhill to Turn 5, wondering exactly what we had done wrong to earn such a frustrating time-out. Our guess—which we would soon discover was wrong—was that we carried a bit too much speed into the corner and turned in too sharply, causing a little front-end push, though that didn’t quite make sense, as we’d previously understeered without penalty.

Turn 4 problems aside, we quickly built up a great deal of respect for the way the Taycan GTS went about its business. We liked the fast, nanometer-precise steering—though we wouldn’t mind if the effort wasn’t quite so heavy—and were impressed by how well the car kept itself buttoned down. During this session, it was a little Audi-esque in its unwillingness to slide around, perhaps, but provided an impressive and safe way to tour Big Willow at high speeds.

A Less Restrictive Mode—and an Unrestricted Taycan

And then Porsche suggested we change PSM to its less-restrictive Sport setting and head out again—and rather than simply change modes, it felt as if we had changed cars. Gone was the Taycan GTS’ obsessive-compulsive schoolmarm demeanor: Now it was a tail-happy goofball, as happy to take turns sideways as it was straight on.

With the envelope opened, the Taycan GTS revealed its true nature: Exceptionally well balanced, keen to rotate, and all but immune to understeer. Where once the Taycan held resolutely to our line, it was now eager to loosen its tail and allow us to power-slide through the corners—and with no worries about being in the right gear. All praise the electric motor’s ability to produce 100 percent of its torque at any speed.

And that trouble we had between Turns 3 and 4? We quickly realized that wasn’t us—it was the chassis’ eagerness to let its tail fly like a flag that was triggering an early warning from the stability control system. Freed from its keep-the-line-at-all-costs constraints, we could now easily rotate the car to point it down the hill and blast hell-for-leather into Turn 5.

Porsche’s Guiding Hand Is Always There

We were also reminded that the stability control, while relaxed, was never dormant. Willow’s Turn 6 crests a small hill, and the far side is usually decorated with tire marks from those who made steering inputs while the car’s suspension was unloaded. We might have been a little busy patting ourselves on the back for a beautiful power slide through 5, and were still adjusting our line as we sailed over the crown. The pit of our stomach signaled a red alert as we felt the Taycan suddenly yaw, and we instantly remembered what the Taycan GTS’ handling makes it so easy to forget: Its roughly 5,100-pound curb weight. Oops.

Track driving turns milliseconds to minutes, and the car seemed to hang on the precipice—but the expected spin was stillborn, the GTS maintaining its course until there was sufficient weight on the tires for us to resume control. We powered onward as if nothing had ever happened. Somewhere in Zuffenhausen there’s a Porsche engineer to whom we owe a beer.

For the next few laps, we toggled between the two stability control modes and marveled at the car’s change in demeanor, from go-where-you-point-it schoolmarm to powerslide animal. If this isn’t better living through electronics, we don’t know what is.

The Argument For Reining In

Now, some might argue that a restrictive stability control mode has no place in any sort of a Porsche, but we disagree. It takes a lot of speed to get to the Taycan GTS’ limits of traction, and if one is driving hard on public roads—an activity we would certainly never, ever, ever partake in—it’s nice to know you can approach the car’s limits without risk of punching through them. We’ve all had a sudden curve take us by surprise, and a narrow canyon road is no place to find yourself in an unexpected slide, no matter how well controlled or catchable. When the road is empty and you know your way around, the Taycan can be powerful and playful, and yet still with the ability to save you from your own hubris.

We should note that none of this changes our key criticism of the Taycan, the biggest of which is its short range. The GTS uses the “big” 93.4-kWh battery found in other Taycan models, and while Porsche has made some tweaks to enhance the range of all 2022 Taycans, the increases are modest—there’s no published EPA range yet, but we doubt the GTS’ official figure will be much higher than 210 miles. That’s simply not a respectable figure for a $132,750 sport-luxury EV. And it also makes for some rather short track days, as a couple hours of lapping Willow at speed was all the Taycan had to give.

Still, we love this marvelous new GTS model. While not as volatile as the Turbo and Turbo S, the Taycan GTS still offers plenty of speed, with a suspension honed for those who would rather go fast in the turns than fast in a straight line. Thoughtful stability control programming makes it a split-personality car—and we love both personalities.

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