HEAD FIGHTS HEART
The Panamera for accountants is even better, but patience may prove a virtue
PORSCHE makes bold claims for the Panamera 4 E-hybrid. The eco ticks are present: consumption of 2,5 L/100 km and an electric driving range of 50 km. But, this is a Porsche, so the performance claims are equally brazen: 0-100 km/h in 4,6 seconds and a top speed of 278 km/h.
I can certainly believe the latter two. Pulling hard even at high speeds, the E-hybrid bests the performance of the 315 kg lighter Panamera 4. To overcome the mass penalty, a 100 kw/400 N.m synchronous electric motor fed by a 14,1 kwh lithium-ion battery pack supplements the 243 kw 2,9-litre, twin-turbopetrol that the E-hybrid shares with the entrylevel Panamera. The combined outputs of 340 kw and 700 N.m from 1 100-4 500 r/min are channelled to all four 19-inch wheels through an eight-speed dualclutch transmission and all-wheel drive (hence the “4” in the name).
Partly contributing to the EHybrid’s altered response is the fact that the electric motor functions as soon as the driver touches the throttle and is available at all times; in the previous model, the throttle needed to have travelled 80% before the supplementary powertrain kicked in.
The efficiency claims, however, are somewhat more optimistic. On the local launch in the Cape Winelands, in best-of-both-worlds hybrid auto mode, our E-hybrid averaged 9,4 L/100 km. That’s still an excellent figure for a 2,25-tonne grand saloon – especially considering the batteries were nearly depleted following a stint of highway driving – and it will definitely decrease in an urban setting that features commutes shorter than 50 km. But, similar to other hybrids we’ve recently tested, this drivetrain configuration occasionally feels designed to favour spectacular emissions figures for taxation purposes rather than outstanding real-world efficiency.
Another gripe is the somewhat abrupt transition between powertrains. Not because the system isn’t well integrated, mind, but because the V6’s guttural note is all the more obvious after a period of electric-powered silence.
That refinement is further bolstered by the new longwheelbase Executive model. The additional 150 mm between the axles doesn’t make the attractive new car look ungainly, frees up vast reserves of rear legroom and introduces a more raked backrest.
Coupled with a smooth ride on air suspension, superb noise suppression and stellar fit and finish, the Panamera – and specifically this E-hybrid – is much improved.
But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the upcoming V6 Diesel model. If you’re in the market for a Panamera and prioritise running costs, that vehicle might just strike a better balance.