Hybrid hits the marque
A PLUG-IN hybrid that can fully recharge in just four hours will lead the charge of Porsche’s updated Panamera range when it arrives here mid year.
The German marque is claiming the ‘‘world’s first plug-in hybrid drive in the luxury class’’ — Panamera S E-Hybrid has 306kW of combined petrol-electric power, thanks to upgrades on the electric side.
The electric motor now offers 70kW (up from 34kW) and takes charge from an upgraded lithium-ion 9.4kWh battery pack with five times more capacity over the out-going car’s nickel metal hydride unit, with a plug-in charge time of four hours — or two-and a-half hours from an industrial fast-charge system.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid
Part of the positioning of the Panamera is the top-end models have exclusive Porsche engines
has cut its fuel use almost in half, according to official European testing — down from 7.1 to a Prius-beating 3.1 litres/100km— as well as increasing its electric-only driving range to a claimed 36km, although the company suggests a ‘‘ realworld’’ range between 18km and 36km, although perhaps not when testing the electric-only system’s top speed of 135km/h.
When all is asked of the entire drivetrain, the S E-Hybrid claims to hit 100km/h in 5.5 seconds (half a second quicker than the predecessor) and reaches a top speed of 270km/h.
Porsche Australia’s Paul Ellis says the hybrid currently represents about 5 per cent of Panamera sales but the new system may change that.
‘‘We would expect that to go up with the new hybrid. It’s an improved system that is more tactile, plugging in to the charge— they see it at work and it’s not hidden,’’ he says.
‘‘We will start with the V6 diesel, the new S and 4S three-litre V6 models, and the V8 Turbo — then phasing in before the end of the year with the V6 petrol in rear and AWD and the S E-Hybrid,’’ Mr Ellis says.
Sadly for those who like to ride in the rear, the two luxurious Executive 150mm-longer-wheelbase versions are making their debut (aimed at the Chinese market, hence the Shanghai unveiling), but won’t be offered in Australia.
Forced induction will appear through the middle levels of the updated Panamera range with the introduction of a Porsche-built twin-turbo V6 to replace the naturally-aspirated 4.8 litre V8 in the S and 4S models, offering 309kW and 520Nm — up from 294kW and 500Nm — with a thirst cut by up to 18 per cent.
Mr Ellis says the V6 is a Porsche-specific engine.
‘‘It’s a brand new engine. It’s a Porsche engine that’s made for the Panamera — part of the positioning of the Panamera is the top-end models have exclusive Porsche engines,’’ he says.
Transmissions remain as seven or eight-speed (the latter for the diesel, which gets an upgrade next year from 184kW to 200kW, with torque unchanged at 550Nm, and the hybrid) double-clutch units, with an upgraded stop-start system for earlier shut-off and increased fuel savings.
The body design has been given a make-over, with larger front air intakes, a change to the rake of the windscreen and a widened rear window and rear spoiler among the key changes, with optional LED headlights also set to further change the new model’s appearance.
Panamera owners elsewhere with smartphones will be able to control myriad vehicle functions via a new Porsche Car Connect app, but that function won’t be available to Australian customers.
Mr Ellis says the app is produced by an outside supplier that doesn’t operate in Australia — ‘‘it’s out of our hands as it is done by an external supplier.’’
Elsewhere, drivers can check on the car’s charge status indicator, as well as utilising the auxiliary climate control option of the plug-in hybrid to pre-heat or cool the car, as well as accessing other vehicle information like remaining driving range or even the car’s location when parked by forgetful owners.
Other petrol-only Panamera models can also be connected via a phone app.
Upgrades in the battery packs have given Porsche’s Panamera S E-Hybrid improved performance and it now only takes four hours to charge