E-Hybrid is mean and green
Better EV range, but also more get-up-and-go from Porsche’s new plug-in Panamera,
Fun electric vehicle (EV) fact: for a while back there, Porsche had more production plug-in models than any other carmaker.
Admittedly, that was 2013 and those models were the Cayenne SUV, Panamera luxury sedan and 918 supercar. Not exactly zeroemissions mobility for the masses.
But the point is, Porsche has been doing this EV thing for a while. Long enough to have tried some stuff and be ready to try some different stuff.
Enter the latest Panamera 4 E-Hybrid: the plug-in version of Porsche’s elongated luxury sedan.
This is the second-generation Panamera, based on a new platform that puts it one step ahead of the current Cayenne. Not for long, as the all-new Cayenne has already been revealed and will land here next year. But for now.
The previous Panamera plug-in was more of a luxury sedan with green credentials. And green badges and green brake calipers, but that’s a Porsche-EV thing right across the lineup.
The latest Panamera E-Hybrid still has the green addenda and it even has much-improved electric range. Porsche claims it’ll do 50km of silent commuting on a full charge.
As ever with any kind of plug-in hybrid, the maker’s claim is highly optimistic and/or absolutely-idealconditions stuff. But a few days of city commuting did establish a real-world range of at least 30km during our time with the car and that’s pretty impressive.
In short, you can probably spend the whole week driving to work and back on zero-emissions power, charging at night, and save the petrol for the weekend.
Speaking of which: despite the above, Porsche claims this model is much more of a ‘‘performance hybrid’’ and even suggests it’s picked up a few tricks from the 918 supercar. Really? Well, this is the same company that also claims the new-generation Cayenne is inspired by the 911.
What Porsche is really trying to say is that the Panamera E-Hybrid is now much more keen to use its battery power for performance purposes when you’re in petrolelectric mode.
For example, while the previous model required 80 per cent throttle pressure to start offering electric assistance, the new one serves up 100 per cent of battery power whenever you want it.
You get E-Mode and Hybrid Auto settings (the latter also with E-Hold and E-Charge configurations), but there’s also Sport and Sport Plus to play with. In those last two, the hybrid system goes all-out to keep the battery charged up so that it can assist your performance driving.
This just in from Porsche: please insert mental image of 918 supercar here.
Hybrid or not, the powertrain is set up to offer the purest possible power delivery. The E-Hybrid has the same eight-speed PDK dualclutch transmission as any other Panamera, but all of the electric power is also fed directly into that same gearbox. The E-Hybrid is still all-wheel drive, but don’t go looking for fancy e-axles or anything like that. Just a total 700Nm of torque (more than a 911 Turbo) straight through the PDK.
It’s a bit of a rocketship for a monster luxury sedan. It’ll hit 100kmh in 4.6 seconds, making it almost as fast as the conventional (but still $50,000-more-expensive) Panamera 4S.
It’s not as smooth, though. Even in pure-electric E-Mode, you sometimes get an enormous thump through the drivetrain if you make a sudden movement with the throttle. And on more than one occasion the PDK developed a bad case of hunting up 50kmh hills. But then you do enjoy extreme EV-refinement in this luxury car, which also has three-chamber air suspension to get the chassis just-so for your changing moods.
And of course it’s wickedly fast on a winding road, despite its length and width. If you think a Tesla Model S is a ‘‘performance’’ car just because it goes fast in a straight line, you really need to drive one of these.
It’s not a sports model but it does feel proper-Porsche. The steering is light but highly accurate, there’s an enormous amount of mechanical grip and when it starts to run out, the chassis dances around corners anyway. It’s hard to reconcile the size and market-segment of this thing with what it does on a winding backroad. Shame it’s so ridiculously wide, but maybe that’s a thing called presence.
The Panamera is appropriately techy. It has the new Porsche Advanced Cockpit, which concentrates on the virtual. There are three separate screens across the dashboard and only one physical dial, which happens to be the large, centrally mounted tachometer. That’s very Porsche.
Even the centre console is all black-surface with haptic-feedback touch-controls. It’s all quite intimidating at first, but dive in
and it’s actually quite intuitive, save a few elements where it feels like we have a case of boffin-goingoverboard. Example: to adjust the central air conditioning vent, you have to go into a touch-screen menu and trace around the screen with your finger. The vent then follows your path. Okay then.
It’s an impressive interior package, but no different to any other Panamera. The unique selling proposition of this car is of course that plug-in powertrain, which does help justify what’s otherwise a weirdly profligate kind of vehicle in a Kiwi environment. It helps that it’s also silly-fast and superb to drive. It all bodes well for the forthcoming Cayenne E-Hybrid.
There’s a bigger EV-picture, of course. Late in 2019 Porsche will launch the production Mission E, a fully electric super-sedan that’s mooted to have 0-100kmh acceleration of less than four seconds and the ability to charge to 80 per cent in quarter of an hour. It’s also expected to cost around the same as the entry-level Panamera. Which is not really the point. The point is it will be a serious alternative to the Tesla Model S for those who really don’t want petrol power.
Having a luxury Porsche is all about the green: brakes and badges in the case of the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid.
The Porsche Advanced Cockpit concentrates on the virtual. Expect a similar setup in next year’s Cayenne.