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Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo – on a wet road

Porsche’s EV Wagon on the 47 km Sunshine Coast TT

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Things we like

  • Lives up to lofty Porsche expectations
  • Brakes
  • Steering

Not so much

  • You pay heavily for the privilege
  • Body control on large compressions

The 2022 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo explores one of the best Aussie motorsport events that never was.

The front straight isn’t actually straight, but more a nice place to stage competitors and viewers alike.

It’s not a particularly fast bit of track by this circuit’s standards, but one that sweeps gently upward right at the turn-in point of a sharp left hander.

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From there the circuit slowly drops down a fast left into a gentle climbing right, straightening for the uphill braking zone of what is the second real corner – an acute 90-degree right. From here racers are on a roller coaster of tarmac that makes Portimao look like the scene of the Caesars Palace Grand Prix.

Elevation changes arrive thick, fast, and dramatic, timed right at the apex of full-throttle bends where engines will be approaching redline in third, fourth, maybe even fifth gear.

That starting complex is just the first kilometre of a 47km circuit that would have pushed the bravest souls on the planet to step astride fire-breathing mechanical steeds for a motorsport event unlike any other in Australia’s modern racing landscape.

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Would have, because the ambitious plan to make it a reality was blown away like a raindrop in a cyclone. Named the Sunshine Coast International TT in honour of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy it is inspired by, the proposal was as ambitious as it was out of place in our nation of regulatory chokeholds.

In 2016 businessman and motorcycle enthusiast David Rollins wanted to lure the world’s best road racers – the likes of John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, and Bruce Anstey – to Australian shores to compete with slick-shod Superbikes that would leave any four-wheeled machine this side of a Carrera Cup wondering how so much speed can be achieved on a contact patch the size of your palm.

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While ultimately unsuccessful, the proposal showed initial early promise with local council support from the town that would form the event’s home base, Maleny.

MOTOR is here to trace the heaving 47km course and ponder what could have been. The town is filled to the brim with endearing motoring enthusiasts from all walks of the automotive spectrum. Hot rodders, British anoraks, JDM enthusiasts, and yes, even our two-wheeled kin, rub shoulders in the town’s main street between expeditions through the nearby driving roads which are among the best in the country.

Yet, as with every natural equilibrium, there is also a vocal selection of residents vehemently opposed to something as crass and brash as a high-speed street race that were more than happy to air their grievances at a number of town council meetings.

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As quickly as the Sunshine Coast TT was proposed, it was met with well-organised opposition. Anti-racing resident groups weren’t the only killing blow that has us writing about the TT in the past tense, but their influence is not to be understated.

Hence why today’s driving is a stealth mission. To ensure photographer Dewar and I fly under the radar as we retrace the proposed Sunshine Coast TT route, I needed a set of wheels that wouldn’t draw too much attention, but would still be capable of making the most of the carefully curated course.

What better than a silent wagon like the Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo?

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Being the flagship of the long-roof Taycan Cross Turismo range, the Turbo deploys 460kW and 850Nm through a two-speed transmission on the rear axle, and single-speed on the front, each mated to a respective permanent magnet synchronous motor. Peak power can lift to 500kW using launch control with overboost.

There is no Turbo S in the Taycan Cross Turismo family, and it doesn’t need it.

The extra money and additional letter on the rear bumper badging would bring no full-time boost to power levels, and the increase to 560kW on overboost launches can only be experienced a handful of times before needing to lie down while your insides return to their anatomically appropriate layout.

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Similarly, the non-cladded, slightly lower riding Sport Turismo version and its exclusive GTS variant won’t be joining the Turbo, 4, and 4S Taycans in Australia.

That model’s bodystyle would have filled a tiny hole in a niche market instead of being a proper value-add to the local line-up, and the three-step model range doesn’t need any extra complexity provided by the GTS.

That power is deployed with a ferocity that you never really get used to.

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Perhaps it’s decades of internal combustion conditioning, or a hardwired form of evolutionary self-preservation, but repeated sharp throttle applications and launches in the Taycan take their mental and physical toll.

A proper launch control needs to be experienced to be believed, with the 2320kg machine pausing for a fraction of a second as the brake is released and the tyres work with the computer to find the correct amount of power for a perfect bite of the tarmac. There’s a slight chirp from the rubber, and then the piece of road that was just a moment ago all the way over there suddenly transposes itself to right here in front of you.

As tested our Q-ship costs $320,690 before on-roads from a $279,000 sticker.

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Some of the options filling that forty-odd-stack chasm include the stunning 21-inch Cross Turismo Design wheels ($6770), subtle Ice Grey metallic paint ($5000), confounding rear-axle steering ($4300), giant fixed panoramic glass roof ($3370), gimmicky passenger display screen ($2150) and the must-have, even on an EV, Sport Chrono pack ($2340).

Helping cover our tracks as we head off from the starting point outside Maleny’s high school is a heavy lashing of thick fog that only continues to worsen throughout the day. At some points it is a complete white-out, almost prompting an entire abandonment of the day’s proceedings.

My local knowledge of the route, and Ellen’s sheer bloody mindedness sees us push on to face pouring rain, limited visibility, cool road temps, and constant standing water. If held today the TT would be a wash out on safety grounds, but even in dry conditions the time-trial-style event would have been easily the most hazardous in Australia.

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The first kilometre has power poles on apexes, brick letterboxes as braking markers, and sturdy cow-proof fences as run-off. Then you are upon the crowning jewel of Maleny Stanley River Road that takes us from the eponymous township along the ridge of the Blackall range. A main feature of the road has been heavily curtailed by the weather.

To both our left and right should be wide vistas of the surrounding valleys and craggy, once-volcanic cores that form part of the Glass House Mountains.

Instead I can barely see the edge of the road, and looking through the corner is completely out of the question.

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Much like the Snaefell Mountain Course, get it wrong at certain points on the Sunshine Coast TT and you’d be doing high speed improvised landscaping through someone’s favourite rose bush. Thankfully unlike the Isle of Man event, organisers in Australia weren’t going to give spectators free rein of the course, instead containing them within six distinct viewing areas.

Reprieve is only slight but nevertheless appreciated when the road begins its descent proper. Glaring road signs warn of the vertical drop in principle, but it’s a drastic change in gradient that requires confidence in your chosen vehicle’s braking ability and front-end bite regardless of four contact patches or two.

The Taycan’s braking ability is indomitable, with regenerative powers paired with 410mm diameter discs clasped by six-piston calipers up front, and 365mm discs and four-pot grabbers on the rear. Despite the immense kinetic energy deployed, its easily disposed of with a brake pedal that never saps confidence thanks to resolute and unwavering feedback.

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The Taycan Turbo deploys its significant power with relative ease despite the treacherous conditions, and its ability to increase velocity is far more enjoyable
when already up and rolling.

Torque vectoring and an astute traction control and ESC calibration helps me find what little grip is available as I press into the throttle on corner exit. Not from a standstill, acceleration is no longer a punch in the nape of the neck, but a shove on the lower back that refuses to relent. While there is instant power deployment, the throttle calibration isn’t overly sharp, and sustained mid-corner throttle inputs are easy to maintain.

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Despite all the mass, the Taycan has impressive lateral body control aided by the low battery placement, and irons out niggles and imperfections in the ride surface admirably despite the low-profile rubber. But the weight becomes abundantly apparent over larger suspension compressions and crests, with a heaving motion that shatters the, up until this point, well-maintained charade of being a much lighter car.

At the terminus of Stanley River Road competitors take an off-camber left that also signals a transition to the best road surface of the route. With this improvement comes a remarked uptick in pace as the road now straightens toward Peachester.

On a closed course, riders would be clipping into high gears at full chat while tipping into what barely resemble curves at the legal speed limit. Just the thought of doing so has me gulping in imagined astonishment.

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Further along a Rav4 has rolled and wedged itself sideways between the end of the Armco and a bank of earth. It’s a good reminder that even at the speed limit this road isn’t entirely tame.

Before entering the town of Peachester proper the route again dives left, moments after its longest arrow-straight stretch.

Next on the menu is Bald Knob Road, a tight and twisted antidote to the speedo-cracking portion we’ve just traversed. Again, brave pills are required before admission, but this time for entirely different reasons.

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Bald Knob is the most technical part of the route, and there’s no reprieve in the entire length. It’s up, down, left, right, mix, match, repeat, survive.

So intense is the focus required that the sheer drops to the right-hand side of the road sneak up on you. There are always a few trees or a house between you and becoming a low-orbit pilot, but get it wrong here and there will be no small accidents. The surface is passable, just, for road use. Race speeds? Good heavens.

The rest of the proposed roads are heavily trafficked from here to the finish line, but for competitors they’d be a delight us mere mortals will never come close to replicating.

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At least not legally. A predictable flow returns, as does a road surface that’s enjoyed a semblance of proper maintenance, and three quarters of an hour after our departure the start-finish line appears again.

At race pace we’d predict a lap time in the region of 13 minutes.

Prior to colonisation, the route of the TT would have been entirely covered in sub-tropical rainforest. Late 19th-century logging has caused an almost complete denudation of the towering hardwoods, and there are only brief pockets that seem representative of the locale’s true heritage.

When the timber companies ran out of trees to decimate it was the dairy industry that stepped in as the economical backbone of the area, making use of the now cleared, fertile lands to house Guernsey cattle.

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Almost as old as Australia itself as a nation, the Maleny Butter Factory began operation more than a century ago in 1904. Today cows are the primary spectator of our clandestine tour.

When the TT event was proposed, opponents claimed noise from the racing bikes would upset the local prized stock. The owner of Maleny Dairies, an astute businessman and caring farmer whose land borders much of the route, dismissed these criticisms and threw his support behind the TT.

The pride of Maleny Dairies’ herd was a Guernsey named Belladonna – a future world champion the breed that at its peak produced 70.5 litres of milk in a single day compared to the average cow’s 15 litres.

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Not yet Porsche’s Belladonna (that title remains resolutely retained by the Cayenne), the Taycan is already outperforming the 911 in terms of global sales.

That commercial success says more about customer habits and supply and demand than it does the future of Porsche’s most iconic model, but it’s also an indication that purists will need to get used to the idea of electric performance Porsches very quickly.

A performance Porsche the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo certainly is by any meaningful data or emotional metric.

Driving it quickly is an involved, pulse-raising process that requires considered inputs and rewards with gobsmacking pace.

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The steering is typical Porsche top-shelf quality. Fantastic accuracy with nary a deadzone in sight, with well-judged weight that straddles the middle ground of too-light remoteness and artificially heavy.

The optional rear-wheel steering system adds a level of complexity to the driving experience that doesn’t necessarily result in a net benefit. Turn in on tighter corners is sharper, and stability on fast flowing bends more composed, but it also acts as an artificial barrier to truly understanding the chassis’ reactions to inputs and feedback from the rear axle takes extra work to fully parse – something that isn’t a boon when putting on pace as quickly as the Taycan Turbo does.

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In short, four-wheel steer is great when manoeuvring the almost five-metre long, two-metre wide beast into a tight space, but those searching for driving excellence from their EV adoption are better off saving their money.

Increasing the difficulty level inside is the loss of the auditory feedback from the electric powertrain. You don’t realise how heavily you initially rely on sound to interpret and understand pace on the road until its gone.

However, the power of the human brain quickly compensates to this aural absence, and the issue is remedied somewhat in Sports Plus with an internal sound symposer that matches your speed and throttle application with an artificial tone played through the speakers.

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Thankfully Porsche avoided a cringe decision of using a combustion engine’s note, instead opting for a slightly understated UFO warble. I quickly found it more distracting than helpful, which on these roads and with the prevailing weather conditions prompted me to turn it off entirely.

The ambition of the Sunshine Coast TT’s organisers outstripped their ability or patience to turn an aspirational vision into reality and promises of a worthy event were never realised.

If executed properly, it could have been a world-class event.

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Porsche has not suffered the same folly. While the Taycan has allowed us to pass undetected throughout the day, its performance credentials are as serious as they are undeniable.

Put the same ethos into something smaller and more compact like, say, a Cayman and the next age of electric speed is going to be mighty enjoyable indeed.

How to best experience the Sunshine Coast TT route

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There are great venues in the surrounds of the Sunshine Coast TT route.

Shotgun Espresso has the best coffee in Maleny, along with a selection of fine food.

It’d take more than the 45 minute driving time of the route to explore Maleny’s main drag, so you can bring along partners and leave them in town.

The final stretch of the TT course heads along Mountain View Road. Make sure to stop off at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve for a spectacular view of the nearby Glasshouse Mountains.

2022 Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo specs

Body 5-door, 4+1-seat wagon
Drive all-wheel
Battery 93.4kWh (83.7kWh net)
Motor Permanent magnet sychronous (f/r)
Power 460kW (500kW overboost)
Torque 850Nm
Power/Weight 198kW/tonne
Transmission single-speed (f); 2-speed (r)
Weight 2320kg
Suspension double wishbone, air springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll (f); multi links, air springs, adaptive dampers, anti-rol (r)
L/W/H 4974/1967/1412mm
Wheelbase 2904mm
Tracks 1710/1627mm
Steering Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes 410mm ventilated discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 365mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (r)
Wheels 21.0 x 9.5-inch (f); 21.0 x 11.5-inch (r)
Tyres 265/35 ZR21 101Y (f); 305/30 ZR21 104Y (r)
Price $279,000 ($320,690 as tested)

Things we like

  • Lives up to lofty Porsche expectations
  • Brakes
  • Steering

Not so much

  • You pay heavily for the privilege
  • Body control on large compressions


25 APR 2022      Cameron KIRBY

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