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.
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.
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."
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
Top speed: 193mph
Weight: 2,325kg (DIN)
MPG: 94 (combined)