We drive Porsche's ass-hauling Panamera Turbo hybrid
Instead of introducing another half petrol, half electric model with the sole aim of appeasing the quinoa-loving government officials in charge of reducing carmakers’ CO2 emissions, Porsche has taken a different approach this time around. The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid we sampled at its world media launch in Canada last week is a performance range-topper with astonishing 500kW and 850Nm outputs. In other words, if you want the biggest, baddest, and fastest accelerating version of the sports sedan, you’re now forced to swallow a bit of broccoli with your meat.
It’s basically a garden variety Panamera Turbo (if there is such thing) with a 404kW 4-litre turbo V8 up front for primary propulsion, but with an electric motor mounted between the engine and gearbox dishing up an extra 100kW when breakneck bursts of power are needed. We’re not sure why the two power sources don’t officially add up to 504kW on paper, but hey, 500 is enough right?
Porsche claims a launch control-aided 0-100km/* time of 3.4 seconds (or 3.5 for the long-wheelbase Executive version) with a top speed of 310km/* . Awesome figures considering the whole package weighs in at almost 2.5 tons. Yes, this is one heavy lump of battery-laden four-door limo, but trust us, with the taps open it’s nearly impossible to notice.
We drove the new car for a few hotlaps around a twisty Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, and here the big beast tore into corners with staggering levels of grip - no doubt aided by trick anti-roll air suspension, four-wheel steering and seriously wide 21” tyres, all included as standard equipment.
Then, out on the open road, the E-Hybrid made mincemeat of straight sections, blurring scenery with throttle input in the same way as the Starship Enterprise entering warp speed. And to slow it all down very effectively there are standard-fit carbon brakes with ten-piston monoblock callipers at the front and four-potters at the back.
But here’s the quinoa-lover’s kicker: this Panamera can also drive in pure electric mode for a claimed 50km, emitting nothing but the gentle sound of electric whirr as it goes. After a few hours of thrashing Canadian back roads I entered the busy city streets of Victoria with nearly a full charge, set the drive selector to “E-Power” and cruised on battery power only for around 38km.
Interestingly, the battery range graphic within the Panamera’s giant centre touchscreen read 21km remaining when I parked, leading me to believe the 50km claimed range may be quite conservative.
Just like its predecessor, the previous-gen Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, the Turbo S’s boot-mounted battery pack can be topped up by recuperating energy while driving, or via cord from a wall socket or public charging point. Recharge times are quoted at around six hours with a standard 3.6kW charger, or 2.4 hours with an optional 7.2kW device.
The charging process can be set to start at certain times by using the onboard infotainment system, or remotely from a Porsche Connect smartphone app. It’s also possible to heat or cool the cabin while charging thanks to an auxiliary air conditioning unit which doesn’t need the petrol engine to run.
Though no components are shared, the hybrid tech incorporated in the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is derived in one way or another from both the 918 supercar and 919 Le Mans racer. But, neither of those cars get 20-speaker Burmester sound systems, panoramic sunroofs, adaptive cruise control, or seats for four. Back seats can also be specced with an entertainment package featuring two tablet touchscreens with 32gigs of internal memory.
Few cars, if any, offer such a spread of ability. Porsche’s new flagship can scramble your sense of speed and won’t raise too many eyebrows in a Greenpeace parking lot. So what’s the catch? Well, it is quite pricey at a 450 grand premium over equivalent non-Hybrid Panamera Turbo and Turbo Executive models. Still, that’s hardly a flinchworthy number given the performance advantages hardcore enthusiasts will lust after. Consider the 50km (or more) battery range an added bonus.
The Panamera Hybrid arrives in South Africa in September, in two versions.
Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid - R2 931 000
Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive - R3 134 000Star Motoring