The ride quality shows some promise, the steering is encouraging and the handling balance has potential. How's that? I'm afraid I can't be any more definitive with my Porsche Taycan 4S verdict because having driven it on snow and ice only, I have no idea how it'll feel on an asphalt road. But I'll go out on a limb and say it probably isn't going to be terrible.
There is a lot you can learn about an interesting new car just by spending time in it, however. I now know the Taycan looks lithe and athletic in the flesh, its bodywork wrapped tightly over hard points that clearly protrude far less than the Panamera's. And with proud haunches and sculptural wings, the Taycan makes the Tesla Model S looks amorphous and blobby, like a month-old bar of soap. What the Porsche doesn't have is the Tesla's cavernous interior; the rear seats will accommodate taller passengers but not in untold luxury, while boot space is no better than decent.
Instead, the Porsche cabin prioritises all the same stuff other Porsche cabins do: material quality and fit and finish are both exceptional and the seating position just so. From memory the front seats drop lower in the Panamera, but even here they fall down far enough to make you feel as though you're sitting in a sports car rather than an executive saloon. Meanwhile, the steering wheel reaches out to greet you and the pedals are exactly where you want them. These are the basics Porsche has made itself a master of in recent years and in this brave new electric world, nothing seems to have changed.
Is this the best interior the company currently makes? Probably. I don't know exactly how useful the fourth screen that sits immediately in front of the passenger really is, but the many digital displays are all beautifully rendered and the menus very intuitive to navigate. The frameless screen directly ahead of the driver, meanwhile, is gorgeous.
In this video I try not to get too wrapped up in what the Taycan is like to drive in conventional terms, but instead explore the way it behaves beyond the limit of grip. Admittedly the limit of grip on sheet ice and non-studded winter tyres isn't particularly high, but even so it was clear the car's clever torque vectoring system (made possible by having one motor working on each axle) was capable of far funkier things than the kind of torque vectoring you get from a combustion engine and conventional four-wheel drive. The video explains that in much more detail.
In temperatures that rose no higher than -5 degrees Celsius - this was Finnish Lapland at the start of December... - many electric cars would've been well out their comfort zone. But the Taycan is available with a heat pump that warms the battery to 28 degrees, where it works most efficiently, protecting the car's range and performance in very cold conditions. Porsche says the 4S will return as many as 288 miles on a charge, which is more than any other Taycan. The 0-60mph time begins with a three (just) and the top speed is 155mph, which is surely more speed than anybody really needs from an electric saloon car.
Porsche's chassis engineers tell me the 4S is only fractionally less sporting in character than the far more expensive Turbo and Turbo S models, all of which makes me think the base model Taycan (for the time being at least) might well be the one to have. It starts at £83,367, which is an entire 718 Boxster S less than the Taycan Turbo S. Although if you don't mind, I won't declare the 4S the one to buy until I've driven it on, y'know, a road.