The powerful and attractive new Porsche Panamera is a vast improvement on first generation hybrids
PORSCHE has been selling its hybrid Panamera since 2011 but this is its first plug-in car. Its predecessor, like other first generation hybrids, had an absurdly limited electric-only range of just two miles, which meant its hybrid components only served to increase its economy and reduce its emissions. Worthy enough, you might say, but in that case why not just buy the cheaper Panamera Diesel model instead? Unsurprisingly, the main market for Porsche’s first hybrid was in countries without diesel pumps.
But this new plug-in version can cruise for up to 22 miles on emission-free electric power. This simple improvement changes everything. It means you can commute from your townhouse in Chelsea or Fulham to your City desk without polluting the environment or paying the congestion charge. At the weekends, you can make it to the M4 emission-free and then hoof it to Chipping Norton with cool, limousine-like efficiency, burning petrol old-style. Theoretically, an overall combined fuel economy of 91mpg and CO2 emissions of just 71g/km is possible.
It may be ultra-economical but it’s also powerful. With a 333hp, 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine and a 95hp electric motor the combined power output is 416bhp. When you put your foot down on the motorway, this translates to a 0-62mph acceleration time of just 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 168mph. To reach this, you will need to select Sport mode.
It’s one of four driving modes to choose from – along with E-Power, E-Charge and Hybrid – which means the Panamera S E-Hybrid can be whatever car you’re in the mood to drive: sports car, electric car, limo or tourer.
The Panamera is undoubtedly a beast in Sports mode but, even in electric-only E-Power mode, you can still take the car to 84mph before the engine joins in and reach 62mph from standstill in 6.1 seconds. Unusually, this happens in near total silence – another very exciting improvement.
E-Charge mode directs the electric motor to fully charge the battery in about 45 miles. In Hybrid mode, the car’s computer optimises power on its own. Intriguingly, the start-stop system works at 4mph and below, which means the engine cuts out and the car coasts to a standstill at traffic lights.
It’s stylish, too. This latest Panamera looks sportier thanks to LED headlamps, larger air intakes and a more assertive-looking bonnet. In profile, it’s more elegant, with broader shoulders and sleeker rear lights. The interior oozes limo-like luxury, with its chrome and gleaming piano-black trim and its leather-wrapped seats, doors and dash. The lime-green brake callipers on the outside match the colour of the needles on the instruments and clock inside. The effect is a subtle touch of cool.
The only major compromise on this new generation hybrid? It has gained 115kg in weight. Those additional plug in and battery components mean it feels heavier in the corners.
A full recharge takes two and a half hours plugged into an industrial charger or just four hours using a regular home socket. Meanwhile, a special phone app, Porsche Car Connect, allows you to control the car remotely, so you can time it to charge during the night when electricity is cheaper, or turn on the heater from the house on a cold morning.
At £89,000, this Panamera isn’t cheap. But you can save money elsewhere. The installation of a Porsche-developed fast charger is included, there’s no VED, no congestion charge and it has a low company car BIK rate. It’s useful to point out that higher rate taxpayers will only pay £148 per month for this Porsche if they put it through the company’s books.
This Panamera may just have become the coolest all-round transporter of choice for the well-heeled, urban family.
PORSCHE PANAMERA S E-HYBRID
TOP SPEED: 169MPH
CO2 G/KM: 71G/KM
MPG COMBINED: 91MPG
DESIGN Four stars
PERFORMANCE Five stars
PRACTICALITY Four stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Three stars