Stuttgart, Germany - It’s a sign of the times. In a first for Porsche, the company has launched a plug-in hybrid as the new flagship of a model line.

The new Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid combines the 404kW, four-litre V8 from the Panamera Turbo with a 100kW electric motor for a total of 500kW and 850Nm - which is all available from just above idle speed, launching the new Panamera off the line to 100km/h in a claimed 3.4 seconds and topping out at 310km/h.

The hybrid module has an electromechanical clutch for almost imperceptible changovers from conventional to electric power - or both - and back again, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed double-clutch gearbox and adaptive all-wheel drive, as in all second-generation Panameras.

The E-Hybrid always starts in pure electric mode, giving you an emission-free local drive range of up to 50km/h. If you push the loud pedal beyond the pressure point, however, or if the battery’s charge drops below minimum, it switches to hybrid mode, with the power of both engines on tap.

Standard equipment includes three-chamber adaptive air suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, dynamic chassis control with torque vectoring, rear-wheel steering on long-wheelbase Executive versions, 21 inch 911 Turbo rims and auxiliary aircon that can run when the car is switched off, because the heat produced by charging the battery can make the cabin stuffy - and that would never do.

The liquid-cooled, high voltage 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged from a 230 volt, 10 amp domestic power in less than six hours - or, by plugging the 7.2kW onboard charger into a 32A three-phase industrial connection, you can charge the battery from stone flat to overflowing with amps in less than two and a half hours.

You can even leave the car plugged in overnight but switched off, and set it to start charging after midnight when electricity is cheaper (in Europe anyway) using a timer via Porsche Communication Management, or the Porsche Connect app for smartphones and Apple watches.

The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid will make its world debut at the Geneva motor show in the second week of March, and will be released in the European market in July 2017. Prices in Germany will start at €185 736 (R2.5 million) for the standard model and €199 183 (R2.72 million) for the long-wheelbase Executive.

The South African launch date and pricing will be announced on Sunday; as soon as we see them, so will you.

IOL Motoring

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