Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo: Driven


It should come as no surprise that at the press conference for the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (we're not paid by the word, don't worry) it doesn't take long for that other hybrid V8 Porsche to be mentioned: yes, in Stuttgart's words, this is "a 918 Spyder for the entire family." Hmm...


Patently it's not, because an entire family wouldn't squeeze into the standard '4+1' seating arrangement of the Sport Turismo, leave alone the optional four-seater configuration. And, no, it isn't a hypercar. But while it never will be one, there are some links between the million-dollar marvel and the uber estate. Honest.

There're the Acid Green calipers, for a start. And similar driving modes, bar Race: E-Mode, Hybrid Auto, Sport and Sport Plus. More tellingly though, what links both is the manipulation of quite substantial mass into ludicrous (official) numbers through the clever use of electricity. The 918 is a 1,600kg car that can lap the Nordschleife in 6:57; the Sport Turismo is a 2,325kg (without driver) V8 that emits 69g/km yet also hits 62mph in 3.4 seconds. Both are apparently capable of feats your existing knowledge suggests they shouldn't be.

The 'S E-Hybrid' is the new part of this car, reflecting the addition of a hybrid element to take its performance beyond that of a Turbo. Available as a hatch or Sport Turismo, the E-Hybrid adds a 14kWh battery and supporting motors, providing an additional 136hp and 295lb ft. Total figures widen the eyes like those signature calipers: 680hp, 627lb ft, 192mph, 94mpg and 31 miles of electric range should you so desire. The price will grab your attention too: £137,140 for the hatch, £140,868 for the Sport Turismo.


Nearly all concerns about a Porsche estate that costs as much as a McLaren 570S are cast aside when you see the Sport Turismo. There's something so inherently right about the shape, low and long and sleek enough to make it appear almost glamorous. It makes an E63 look a bit meek and an RS6 seem rather staid. Why did Porsche take so long with this?

On the road the Sport Turismo (you know which one we're talking about now) drives like nothing else. Its scope of abilities is so vast and its range of talents so broad, yet the ease with which it undertakes them all so consummate, that the whole experience comes across as surreal. A simple human cannot be able to control this much technology so easily, you assume - there must be something else at work.

Obviously there isn't, but its omnipotence remains spooky. Predictably it drives rather like a Panamera Turbo, only with any hint of hesitation from the turbocharged V8 - minimal as it was - totally eliminated. The E-Hybrid is devastatingly rapid from a standstill - that's 627lb ft from 1,400rpm for you - chomping through gears and tarmac at a ferocious rate. There's simply no let up and, even though its considerable mass will count against it, the Porsche does feel faster than either the Audi or the Mercedes. Both of which have more than 600hp.


More remarkable is how the Panamera manages that girth though, again redolent of what's said about the 918. It always feels large but always freakishly agile too; enhanced by technology like torque vectoring, active anti-roll bars and optional rear-wheel steer, yes, though with a level of calibration that makes the car simply feel many hundreds of kilos lighter instead of disjointed and unruly. With typically cohesive Porsche damping, the responsiveness of the PDK transmission and stupendous grip from the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (with 325-section rears!), the Panamera very quickly ensures that you are travelling, er, very quickly.

Then it can silently breeze through a village electrically. This isn't some valet mode either, the car is capable of 87mph on electricity alone and with an accurate gauge in the dials allowing you to meter out just the right amount of throttle to keep the combustion engine shut down. An urban commuter could travel to work purely on electricity with no qualms whatsoever, so painless is the EV process; well, assuming the office was within range, of course...

Hybrid Auto uses the V8 more readily, combining both power sources when required, but also coasting a considerable amount to replenish charge and deliver the best efficiency. It's an interesting challenge to adapt your driving style in response, anticipating declines and getting off the throttle at the earliest possible moment. Sport and Sport Plus then utilise both power sources for maximum performance, Plus adding extra aggression to the damping, steering, exhaust and shifts in typical Porsche fashion. Again though, the E-Hybrid takes the familiar and pushes it even further on: Sport keeps the battery charged "at a minimum level to ensure that sufficient boost reserve capacity is available", Sport Plus then charges the battery as fast as possible "to ensure maximum performance."


When you consider the complexity of this car, that it all feels so effortless is perhaps the E-Hybrid's greatest achievement. The combustion motor cuts in and out seamlessly, the pedals feel natural despite the witchcraft that's unleashed when you press them and the gearbox is as adept as this PDK always feels. To juggle power sources, where that power is going and the rest so authoritatively is extremely impressive, and can be attributed in some regard to another new Porsche acronym - ECA, the electro-mechanical clutch actuator that controls the power distribution.

The problem? Without wishing to sound churlish, it all just feels a bit much. So much of what is done well by this car is also accomplished by the considerably cheaper Turbo, the gains coming through a fiendishly difficult hybrid system. Whether that extra efficiency bears out in the real world remains to be seen too, and those with true concerns for the environment will not be considering the merits of a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 Porsche. Its technical achievements are phenomenal, no doubt, but the real world validity of the E-Hybrid seems extremely limited. Don't forget its £50,000 more than an E63 wagon too. Rather like a smartphone that can also cut your grass or a TV that paints the living room, this Sport Turismo is capable of a great many things that are incredible to experience and which would have been perceived as impossible very recently. It's simply an issue of how usable and relevant all that combined technology is to the typical customer. For now, we'd stick with a Turbo and something truly efficient for the commute.


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO S E-HYBRID SPORT TURISMO

Engine: 3,996cc, V8 biturbo with electric motor
Transmission: 8-speed PDK automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 680@5,750-6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 627@1,400-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.4sec
Top speed: 193mph
Weight: 2,325kg (DIN)
MPG: 94 (combined)
CO2: 69g/km
Price: £140,868

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments (72) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RumbleOfThunder 22 Nov 2017

    Porsche really are in a rich vein of form, as predicable as it is to say.

  • sidesauce 22 Nov 2017

    A 2.3 ton car doing 0-62 in 3.4secs is quite frankly outrageous - I for one am glad it exists!

  • Krikkit 22 Nov 2017

    Sounds like an absolutely remarkable powertrain to experience if it really is so seamless. I suppose the question at this end of the market is "Why not?"

  • MrOrange 22 Nov 2017

    A sort of C63 for the hybrid era?

    Notwithstanding the price, there is a lot to like: More power than you’d ever need, a real-world electric range that should cover daily duties, space for a family. Even looks quite luxurious inside. Sounds a rather wonderful machine. Notwithstanding the price.

  • Funkstar De Luxe 22 Nov 2017

    This is quickly becoming my favourite car...

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