Porsche’s hybrid Panamera links high-tech to thrilling driving
Vancouver Island, CANADA. – Not too long ago, “hybrid” was synonymous with efficiency and fuel saving. These days, however, thanks to hypercars like Porsche’s 918 Spyder, the technology has become better known for its performance benefits – benefits that Porsche, for one, is taking seriously.
For the first time, the sports car maker has positioned a hybrid model as the flagship of a range of its cars: the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. The drivetrain is made up of a 4,0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol engine, coupled with a 100 kW electric motor, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Total system output is a massive 500 kW and 800 Nm, giving the luxury sedan a sports car-shaming 0-100 sprint time of 3,5 seconds – and that’s for the heavier, extended wheelbase model, with the regular Turbo S E-Hybrid being fractionally quicker.
We drove the car at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, and were impressed by its power delivery – not just because of how rapid it really is when given some space, but also because of its torque curve, which is more like a cliff face of instant shove that’s sustained all the way through the rev range.
The Turbo S E-Hybrid is fitted as standard with just about every driving system Porsche currently offers, including torque vectoring, dynamic chassis control, traction management, rear-wheel steering (and the list goes on),.
Combined, all of these systems manage to defeat the drawbacks of a big car traveling at proper speed.
Despite weighing almost 2,5 tons, and being thrown around a track that has an impressive collection of tight corners and elevation changes, the Turbo S E-Hybrid remained remarkably composed. Impressively, the carbon ceramic brakes (also standard) never got tired of reigning it in, either.
Admittedly, driving the big Porsche is a somewhat remote experience, compared to the cut-and-thrust of a Boxster or even a 911, but remarkable nonetheless – and thoroughly enjoyable.
Driving the Panamera in the more serene surroundings of the Canadian mountains and forests gave us a chance to appreciate its other side: it’s a very competent cruiser.
The well-specced, supremely comfortable interior has more than just a single coat of luxury, and driver assistance systems (including a semi-autonomous traffic jam assistant) help keep things as relaxing as possible.
We’ll have a full report on the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid on RPM TV soon. – SPIKE BALLANTINE