Those who do not like choice should never buy a Porsche, or any German vehicle for that matter.
|1. An electric motor is paired to a 3.0L supercharged V6 to produce a combined 416 hp and 435 lb-ft of torque.
2. Official fuel economy numbers haven’t been released but Porsche estimates a significant bump from the standard hybrid model’s 22/30 MPG rating.
3. Pricing for the E-Hybrid will start at $99,000.
4. The E-Hybrid can travel 22 miles on pure electric power at speeds up to 83 mph.
Deutschland loves variety. The more engines, colors, body-styles and a la carte options the better. At last count Porsche’s Cayenne model is available with five different powerplants and there are no fewer than 13 editions of the 911. Not wanting to be left out of the family’s rapid spawn-a-thon, the Panamera is receiving a full model refresh this year and grows to nine separate models including Porsche’s first ever plug-in hybrid; the $99,000 E-Hybrid.
Correction, Porsche’s first ever plug-in hybrid sedan. The brand’s first plug-in model is none other than the spectacularly awesome, Nurburgring record-holding 918 Spyder.
The 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid replaces last year’s S Hybrid model and features a more powerful electric motor that doubles output to 95 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. Coupled to a familiar 3.0L supercharged V6 pumping out 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque the new powertrain makes a combined 416 hp and 435 lb-ft.
But the big news for the E-Hybrid is that this car is able to drive purely on electricity for extended periods of time, up to speeds of 83 mph.
22 MILES OF RANGE
Acceleration isn’t painfully slow in electric mode as the vehicle will reach highway speeds at a reasonable pace. A fully charged E-Hybrid in E-Power mode should travel 22 miles before the energy runs out. Unlike some plug-in vehicle claims, we easily achieved this range during normal driving without employing any extreme hypermiling driving techniques.
The Porsche does lend a hand though when driving in E-Power mode as the “gas” pedal will actually push back on the right foot a bit during acceleration to let the driver know they are reaching the limits of the electric motor’s abilities and that any more throttle input will cause the gas engine to join in.
A GASOLINE ENGINE THAT CAN RECHARGE THE BATTERIES
But the coolest trick of the hybrid system has to be the gasoline engine’s ability to actually recharge the battery pack while driving. Press the E-charge button and unlike virtually every other hybrid out there, the gasoline engine, not just the regenerative brakes, will replenish the battery pack with sweet electrical juice while also powering the Panamera’s drivetrain.
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Although power delivery is a bit choppy in this mode, the Panamera did add 13 miles of electric range back to the batteries in less than 40 minutes of twisting mountain driving. It’s a no brainer for a plug-in hybrid really and a feature this humble reviewer has been saying the Chevrolet Volt needs ever since its inception.
Gas or electric, all power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic S transmission. Fuel economy for the Panamera S E-Hybrid is yet to be rated, but Porsche is expecting a significant bump from last year’s Hybrid’s ratings of 22 MPG city and 30 MPG highway and will obviously vary depending on how much electric-only driving is done.
STILL A PORSCHE
But enough about fuel saving green technology; the Panamera S E-hybrid is a Porsche first and foremost. Porsche claims it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and continue to a top speed of 167 mph.
The engine feels torquey and wholly capable of these numbers, but needs to be in “sport plus” mode to do so, otherwise the drivetrain is neither seamless nor urgent in its power delivery. Even then acceleration response and braking feel isn’t completely razor sharp, especially compared to other Panamera models.
Unfortunately it’s heavy; very heavy. At a base curb weight of 4,619 lbs., it’s over 4,900 lbs. fully loaded, making it is the heaviest Panamera model; even heavier than the long-wheelbase Turbo Executive edition.
Even with the upgraded 255/40R20 front and 295/35R20 rear summer tires our E-Hybrid tester felt like a dulled-down Panamera on twisting mountain roads. The steering feel and chassis responses feel more numb and delayed than other versions of this Porsche, and not just the track ready Panamera GTS, but even the long wheelbase Executive Turbo and the regular 4S as well.
The car’s saving grace is that it’s no regular sedan and we’d wager even the E-Hybrid is more dynamically engaging than some other large luxury limos.
And like other luxury flagship sedans, this car features Beckham levels of posh-ness inside. Anyone familiar with the current Panamera will notice things haven’t changed much for 2014. There’s still a plethora of buttons down the center console and the usual Porsche touchscreen interface. The only difference between the E-Hybrid and a regular Panamera on the inside is a unique gauge cluster that features bright green needles and an efficiency gauge replacing the speedometer.
Back seat space is ample and anyone shorter than an NBA center should fit back there without issue. Depending on which option packages are selected, the rear seat area can feature dual zone climate controls as well as heated and cooled seats. Like most vehicles needing to store a large battery pack, the E-Hybird’s rear hatch space shrinks to 11.8 cubic feet compared to 15.7 in regular Panameras.
See Also: 2011 Porsche Panamera 4S First Drive
As is the case with so many luxury cars these days, there is a Porsche Car Connect app that can be downloaded to a smartphone and used to remotely monitor things like the charge status and remaining driving range, or activate the climate control to heat up or cool down the inside of the Panamera before unplugging it. Heck, it can even show the location of where the car is parked for forgetful travelers.
THEY SWEAR THE OUTSIDE IS DIFFERENT
On the outside, all Panameras have received revised sheet metal for 2014, or so we have been told. Porsche is the first to admit the manufacturer’s designs favor evolutionary updates over revolutionary changes and it took a powerpoint presentation with side-by-side pictures of the old and new model for us to see the changes.
The front end features larger air intakes and more distinctive headlights, which are now LEDs in top trim models. But the biggest change, well…. as big of a change as Porsche is willing to make, occurs in the back. There’s a new rear hatch with new glass that takes away some of the awkward hunchback rear proportions of the older model. There is also a wider spoiler, lower placed license plate holder and more pronounced LED taillights. The only visual cue that this is the hybrid Panamera are green-backed “e-hybrid” logos on the front doors. That, and the bright green brake calipers.
North America is the largest and fastest growing market for Porsche, so the more choice the better and a plug-in hybrid version of the Panamera should only help sales.
But did Porsche develop a true sports sedan that is also a plug-in hybrid, or has the manufacturer’s quest to have more variations than a Tony Hawk aerial trick diluted the brand? Well, this Panamera does behave like a proper Porsche, albeit a slightly dulled down one. If you are in the market for a sporty Panamera, nearly any other model is a better choice. But, if it’s the sportiest plug-in hybrid sedan you’re after, then the Panamera S E-Hybrid can’t be beat.