The fu­ture is elec­tric, and that be­ing the case, Porsche's Panamera Turbo S E-hy­brid, with 680bhp, is our sort of elec­tric car

911 Porsche World - - This month - Words: Kyle For­tune

Peak Panamera? It looks like it. Wear­ing the Turbo S badge, this new Sport Tur­ismo adds to the Turbo S leg­end, with some mighty numbers to the mix. To do so there’s a par­a­digm shift, this Panamera’s out­put not boosted merely by big­ger tur­bos and some en­gine man­age­ment trick­ery, no, this Turbo S’s 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 gains an en­tirely com­ple­men­tary pow­er­train.

A hy­brid. Porsche tak­ing the plug-in op­tion with its maddest Panamera. To give it its proper name it’s the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-hy­brid Sport Tur­ismo. That’s a badge too far for even the ex­pan­sive, shapely and de­sir­able ‘es­tate’ rump of the Panamera Sport Tur­ismo. It’s sim­ply badged Turbo S there, the acid green drop shadow be­hind that badge, and the none-too-sub­tle same colour calipers giv­ing the game away that this range­top­ping ma­chine re­quires a plug as well as a pump.

The numbers that are gen­er­ated as a re­sult are huge, this is a 680hp Panamera. That’s 680hp. Twist is upped, too, to a faintly un­be­liev­able 850Nm. It drives all four-wheels via an eight-speed PDK au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Huge out­puts, all of which al­low the Turbo S E-hy­brid Sport Tur­ismo to reach 62mph in 3.4 sec­onds. That’s right, this four-seat (Porsche calls it a 4+1, but it’d be a very cruel in­di­vid­ual who sub­jected a passenger to the mid­dle rear pew) lux­ury es­tate car will match a 911 GT3 to 62mph. To save you the bother check­ing, that’s 3.4 sec­onds. That. Is. In­sane. It’ll keep go­ing, too, with very lit­tle ob­vi­ous let up in force, all the way to 192mph.

As is be­fit­ting of the Turbo S name, those are all frac­tion­ally bet­ter than the Turbo upon which it’s based. Not that you’d nec­es­sar­ily no­tice, as by hy­bri­dis­ing the pow­er­train with the Turbo S it’s been

civilised in the process. The 136hp/400nm elec­tric mo­tor al­lows some very clever things, Dr Ger­not Doll­ner, Porsche’s Vice Pres­i­dent Prod­uct Line Panamera ad­mit­ting that the hy­bridi­s­a­tion here was fun­da­men­tally cen­tred around gain­ing per­for­mance.

Any in­fin­i­tes­i­mal pause you might get with the re­sponse of a stan­dard Panamera Turbo is van­quished, a spark of im­me­di­acy be­ing in­stru­men­tal in how the Turbo S drives.

The torque curve is like a bomber’s flight plan, ris­ing im­me­di­ately and stay­ing high. Very high. Its mas­sive 850Nm peak comes at 1400rpm and hangs on un­til 5500rpm. Max­i­mum power is reached at a head­ier 5750rpm, be­fore start­ing a slow de­scent af­ter 6000rpm. With it redlin­ing at 6800rpm that’s en­tirely un­der­stand­able. What’s not is the per­for­mance that comes with it.

That it’s fast is no sur­prise, let’s face it, any­thing with 680hp is go­ing to be. Even when it’s tasked with haul­ing 2325kg. The phys­i­cal­ity it gen­er­ates is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend, though un­con­ven­tion­ally. The sen­sa­tion of be­ing pushed deep into the seats is am­pli­fied, not merely be­cause of the ad­di­tional out­put it’s gen­er­at­ing, but the way it does so.

Lin­ear is a word that’s of­ten used to de­scribe ac­cel­er­a­tion, but it’s no bet­ter ever used than here. The force is a con­stant, the eight-speed PDK trans­mis­sion so ef­fec­tive at shift­ing gears, and the elec­tric mo­tor in fill­ing any gaps it might have, al­low­ing the Turbo S to de­liver an ac­cel­er­a­tive urge that’s more akin to a purely elec­tric ve­hi­cle rather than a hy­brid one.

That’s not just true from stand­still, but when on the move. The Turbo S is al­ways, any­where fast. As it should be. I’d usu­ally say stupidly fast, but here it’s in­tel­li­gently so. The pow­er­train a work of mixed-en­gine alchemy, and to max­imise what it’s ca­pa­ble of, as well as to jus­tify the eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive list price, Porsche has gone to town with the chas­sis spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

As stan­dard there is, take a deep breath, adap­tive, three-cham­ber air sus­pen­sion with Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment, Porsche Dy­namic Chas­sis Con­trol Sport, Porsche Torque Vec­tor­ing Plus, as well as Porsche Ceramic Com­pos­ite Brakes. All that’s man­aged by Porsche’s 4D Chas­sis Con­trol, a sys­tem so fiendishly clever it should have its own PHD. The only chas­sis sys­tem Porsche has left off the stan­dard equip­ment list is rear-axle steer­ing, though show us one or­dered with­out it and we’ll show you a mis­taken or­der.

How all that trans­lates on the road is lit­tle short of in­cred­i­ble. The way the Panamera Turbo S E-hy­brid Sport Tur­ismo ac­quits it­self is ex­em­plary. A car this weighty shouldn’t have the agility or poise that it does, that three-cham­ber air sus­pen­sion, al­lied to the elec­tronic chas­sis sys­tems al­low it the tricky com­bi­na­tion of taut body

and roll con­trol al­lied to a gen­uinely cos­set­ing ride. Only the harsh­est ridges up­set its sup­ple com­po­sure, the Panamera Turbo S do­ing the lux­ury car trick very well in­deed.

Wind up the in­ten­sity, both chas­sis and driv­e­train via the stan­dard equip­ment Sport Chrono mode switch and the com­bined biturbo V8 and elec­tric mo­tor up their game, the chas­sis too gain­ing an ea­ger­ness. That does ad­mit­tedly re­sult in a loss of some of the oth­er­wise ex­em­plary ride com­fort, but the way the Panamera’s nose turns in with the rear axle steer­ing in Sport+ mode re­ally has to be ex­pe­ri­enced to be be­lieved. Even so, there isn’t a cor­re­spond­ing in­crease in over­all en­gage­ment, cer­tainly the chas­sis al­lows the Panamera Turbo S to shrug off roads, both sur­face and to­pog­ra­phy, that it re­ally shouldn’t be able to carry its speed so eas­ily on, but there’s a dis­con­nect be­hind the wheel.

Not the steer­ing which is Panamera fa­mil­iar in its weight and feel. The brakes too, stan­dard PCCB, ob­vi­ously, haul back its bulk con­vinc­ingly, though there’s not quite the ini­tial bite that you have with a con­ven­tional Turbo. Com­par­isons are, per­haps, moot at this level, but for all the Turbo S’s abil­ity to re-cal­i­brate what you think is pos­si­ble in a car this com­fort­able tak­ing that mere ‘or­di­nary’ Turbo as an ex­am­ple is demon­stra­tive. Take a Turbo down the same road it would be a close run thing. As in very. In­deed, the Turbo S’s re­liance on its chas­sis sys­tems as cop­ing strate­gies rather than a means of en­hanc­ing its abil­ity is telling.

What Porsche has achieved with its flag­ship is a demon­stra­tion in hy­brid in­te­gra­tion, which not only gains the per­for­mance to jus­tify the S, but does ben­e­fit from 30-mile elec­tric-only drive and tax-dodg­ing po­ten­tial. As if they truly mat­ter.

As a tech­ni­cal ex­er­cise it’s re­mark­able, but, strange as it might sound, it’s too civilised in how it goes about de­liv­er­ing its per­for­mance. While you’re man­ag­ing your modes, look­ing for a rous­ing ex­haust note – good luck find­ing it – a Turbo driver will be ahead of you, en­joy­ing the oc­ca­sional crack and fizz from the ex­haust and ac­cel­er­a­tion that feels far more vivid. They’ll be need­ing to lean less on the chas­sis con­trols to get the best from it, too. That the boot’s that lit­tle bit big­ger with­out a bat­tery un­der­neath it is also a con­sid­er­a­tion. This, af­ter all, be­ing an es­tate car. And a very sen­si­ble one, mad as that might sound, but it’s not the one we’d rec­om­mend. PW

It’s a re­mark­able tech­ni­cal ex­er­cise, but it’s too civilised

Porsche call it ‘Crayon’ and it’s the cur­rent ‘must spec’ colour

The acid green drop shadow to the badg­ing is Porsche’s call­ing card for its ehy­brid green cre­den­tials

Per­for­mance is mighty: 0–60mph in 3.4-secs and a top­speed of nearly 200mph, all from some­thing weigh­ing in at 2170kg

In­te­rior is fa­mil­iar Porsche in lay­out and steer­ing wheel. In­fo­tain­ment screen is huge. In fact it’s all huge!

We’re still lik­ing the Panamera Sport Tur­ismo’s side pro­file. It adds a gen­uine fast­back look to the slightly stodgy stan­dard Panamera

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