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