After the Porsche 918 Spyder, the German sports car manufacturer made it very clear they know how to make a damn good hybrid. So they’ve decided to hybridize just about everything bar the 911 and 718 Cayman and Boxster. The new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is the latest Porsche to feature a hybrid drivetrain – but despite being a large executive saloon, Porsche say it’s a sports car first and foremost, and a practical saloon second. Based off the second generation of Panamera, the looks aren’t quite as horrific as they once were, but it’s safe to say the best place to be when in the company of a Panamera is inside.
Despite the sloping hunchbacked roofline of the Panamera, there’s a surprising amount of headroom available – particularly in the rear of the 4 seat saloon. Even with the sunroof equipped, it doesn’t impede much on head room. The rear seats can fold to enlarge the cargo capacity to 44 cubic feet, though with the seats in place, the 4 E-Hybrid loses a few cubes compared to a standard Panamera – 14.3 cu ft to the standard 17.6 cubes.
The cabin is, as you’d expect, luxuriously appointed with leather upon all surfaces. But it’s not the leather, but rather the new 12-inch touch screen infotainment system that steals the show. It’s a vast improvement over the previous system, though sometimes still not the most intuitive, and it’s matched with touch sensitive controls that offer haptic feedback beneath it, replacing the plethora of buttons that made the old Panamera a nightmare.
The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid’s luxury starts with the adaptive air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management. It filters out rough surfaces and provides a buttery smooth ride regardless of the fact that it rides on standard 19-inch alloys, with optional 20s and even 21s still feeling smooth. The air suspension is also fully variable, providing excellent support and body control through corners and directional changes, and resisting body lean. The grip is endless from the permanent all-wheel drive system, and there’s a really sense of connection through the front wheels, even though the steering is electronically power assisted. There’s good weight and keen responses, and the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid responds far sharper than its 4 787 pound weight would suggest. Opt for the available rear-wheel steering and the Panamera feels a far smaller sports car – an impressive feat. However, the E-Hybrid is let down by a poor brake feel at the changeover between regenerative and physical braking.
The plug-in hybrid Panamera 4 E-Hybrid derives its power from a pairing of a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 developing 330 horsepower and an electric motor sandwiched between the gearbox and engine that generates 136hp. The combined outputs are 462hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, sent to all wheels via an 8-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic. The EPA consumption estimates aren’t in yet, but the 14.1kWh battery pack offers an electric range of a claimed 31 miles, and can be charged in as little as two and a half hours with a 240-volt electrical system. Lest we forget, 0-60mph arrives in 4.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono pack.
Though the options can add up very, very quickly on the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, there’s still a fair amount of standard kit, including a panoramic roof, park distance sensors front and rear with reverse camera, two rear USB ports, LED headlights, and cruise control. Noteworthy options include 18-way power adjustable Sport Seats Plus and the rear seat entertainment package with 2 detachable 10-inch tablets. With the available Assistance Package, the E-Hybrid gets adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and night vision assist. As with all Porsche’s, the Panamera hasn’t and won’t be crash tested by local authorities.
Several years ago, hybrid meant compromise. Not anymore, not for Porsche. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid uses hybridization to make it a complete all round executive sports saloon. From behind the wheel, it’s all too easy to mistake this for a genuine sports car. Simply – performance and class with a clean conscience.