By IOL Motoring Staff

Stuttgart, Germany - This is the fourth model in Porsche's new Panamera line-up, the 340kW E-Hybrid plug-in, due to debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.

Combining a new 2.9-litre V6 biturbo engine, rated for 243 kW and 450 Nm, with an electric motor generating 100kW and 400nm, the new hybrid uses technology from the Le Mans-winning 919 to boost response as well as outright performance, while still retaining an eco-friendly 50km pure electric driving range.

Both petrol and electric power are on tap from the first touch on the accelerator. Electric motors deliver their highest torque at zero revs, so if you put foot flat at a standstill, the Panamera E-Hybrid will give you 700Nm almost instantaneously. Driving all four wheels through a new, faster-shifting, eight-speed double clutch gearbox, that'll launch it to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds and top out at 278km/h.

But it always defaults to pure electric E-Power mode on start-up, running silently and emission-free at up to 140km/h until either the battery goes flat or you decide otherwise by opting for one of four other driving modes, via a switch on the steering wheel.

Optimum eficiency

The newly-developed Hybrid Auto mode mixes and matches the two power sources for optimum efficiency, returning a nominal 2.5 litres per 100km in the (frankly unrealistic) New European Driving Cycle for plug-in hybrids, which is structured in such a way that most of it can be completed in pure electric mode.

In E-Hold mode the battery is kept fully charged all the time by the combustion engine; which actually runs an upgraded ECU mapping while in this mode so that performance doesn't suffer while you're stealing power to charge the battery, but you've always got maximum pure electric range available, for discreetly 'green' driving when needed.

Sport mode uses both petrol and electric power for dynamic driving response, while maintaining a certain level of charge in the battery as a source of reserve boost for foot-flat acceleration.

Sport Plus mode, by contrast, gives you everything the Panamera E-Hybrid's got for as long as it's got it - including the model's 278km/h top speed, and then uses the 'extra power' ECU mapping to recharge the battery as quickly as possible ode to combustion engine.

Amped up

The electric motor is fed by a high-voltage 14.1kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery under the floor of the boot, which can be fully charged from flat in less than six hours from a domestic 10A socket - or just 3.6 hours using the optional 7.2kW charger and a 32A industrial connection.

And you can set it to start charging late at night when electricity is cheaper from your smartphone or Apple; also standard is auxiliary aircon, to cool or heat the cabin during charging.

In this model the second-generation Panamera's instrument panel, with touch-sensitive panels and individually configurable displays, features a hybrid-specific power meter, similar to the one in the 918 Spyder, displaying the amount of electrical energy currently being used and how much is being recovered by recuperation.

The 310mm central infotainment touchscreen lets you access the boost assistant - showing the energy available for boosting - and the hybrid assistant, giving you visual signals for regulating the electrical drive power.

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid will be available to order in South Africa from January 2017, for delivery aroun mid-year; pricing to be announced then.

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