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First drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Monster hybrid power for Porsche’s big, luxurious Panamera estate

 



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Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

4 4 4 4 4

680hp is a lot, and the Panamera Turbo E E-Hybrid makes fine use of it. Its sheer size and lifeless steering count against it, though.

Test Car Specifications

Pricing: Approx £139,287 as tested. Panamera range starts from £81,141
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol + 100kW electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: sports estate
CO2 emissions: 69g/km (Road tax £15 for first year, £440 for next five years, £130 thereafter)
Combined economy: 94.1mpg
Top speed: 192mph
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 680hp at 5,750rpm
Torque: 850Nm at 1,400 - 5,500rpm
Boot space: 425-litres (seats up), 1,295-litres (seats down)
EuroNCAP rating: Not yet tested

What's this?

[Deep breath] This is the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo [and breathe in]. But what does all that mean? In the style of maths homework, let's break it down, step-buy-step. Porsche (a well-known builder of sports cars and SUVs from Stuttgart) Panamera (the big, luxury four-door saloon it builds) Turbo S (a 550hp V8 turbo engine) E-Hybrid (a plug-in hybrid system that adds another 100 kilowatts to the power output) Sport Turismo (the estate body, which has a bigger boot than the standard Panamera).

Got all that? The Turbo S E-Hybrid combines the 550hp V8 turbo engine from last Panamera Turbo with the E-Hybrid system from the standard plug-in model, so it gains a 100kW electric motor and 14kWh battery. Plug it in and you'll get something like 31miles before the batteries run out (it takes between 2.5 and six hours to charge from flat, depending on what amperage you're cramming into it) and so the official (and let's face it, entirely fictional) fuel economy figure is a whopping 94mpg. That's joined by an equally saintly (and also fictional, but the tax-man swallows it and that's what counts) emissions figure of 69g/km. Those aren't the figures we are looking at, however. The numbers which have nabbed our attention are the 680hp combined power output of the turbo V8 and electric motor working together, the 850Nm torque figure and the 3.4-second 0-62mph time.

We'll come back to the performance later, but here's an opportunity to note just how handsome the Panamera Sport Turismo is. If the new Panamera saloon was already far better looking than the old car, then the Sport Turismo is more so, with that extra metalwork and glass just adding the flourishing finish to the Panamera's lines.

It's gorgeous inside, too. There's that huge sweep of dash, the massive 12.3-inch infotainment screen, the mixed analogue and digital dials, the centre console looking like the takeoff ramp on HMS Invincible with its mix real and haptic buttons, and the big, multi-contoured seats. As soon as you slip into the Panamera's cabin, there's a lot to deal with. Thankfully, most of it is good. Those seats are fabulous, and the level of quality feels like a nuclear bomb shelter built by Hermes. There's just enough space in the back for two adults to get comfy, and there's an endless series of traffic-jam entertainments to be had by fiddling with the various infotainment and driving functions. If you've got the time, it's probably best to be NASA flight-qualified first, though.

The Panamera E-Hybrid is a fearsomely complicated car, which should hardly be surprising. It's running on air suspension, it has a fully active rear roof spoiler (Porsche says it's the first production estate with such a thing), it has ceramic brakes, it has an amazing Bose stereo system, and so much more. Suffice to say that, thanks to the lofty price tag, it's rammed with more or less everything you could need (although Porsche will happily offer you additional expensive option, of course).

There are one or two issues, though, from a static point of view. The first is that boot space suffers from the fitment of the hybrid system, to the tune of about 100 litres. That means the 425-litre boot is only the same size as the standard Panamera saloon's. Plus, while Porsche says that this model gives a debut to the new 4+1 seating layout, in practice that means simply that it now has a rear bench, rather than two individual rear seats, and a central rear seatbelt. Porsche says that the transmission tunnel and rear centre console have been slimmed down, but to be honest we don't think many people will be comfortable back there for long.

How does it drive?

In many ways, the Panamera is a brilliant drive. But in some ways, not so much.

Needless to say the powertrain dominates proceedings. Fire it up and, as long as the battery's not gone flat, you'll start in electric mode by default. So the Panamera pulls away silently (the hefty cabin quality pays off here, as there are no squeaks or rattles for the silence of the electric motor to expose) and with reasonable briskness. With a mere 139hp, the electric mode is never going to be anything other than adequate, but it's fine at urban speeds, and is capable of pushing the Panamera up to 90mph if needed.

See that small rotary button nestled in the crook of the steering wheel? Turn it one click clockwise. Now you're in hybrid mode. The V8 wakes up when you need it to, with a faint but distinctly fruity note, and performance takes a significant step up. The mixture of the electric motor's instant torque (it has 400Nm all on its lonesome) covering up any lag from the petrol engine's turbos means that the Panamera picks up and flies at this point, with sharp bursts of acceleration revealing an engine note that's even more aggressive.

Give the rotary switch another click to clockwise to Sport mode, and now all hell breaks loose. This time, the V8 is always on, and the electrics are there to add power and torque, not be all eco-friendly. In Sport the Panamera doesn't fly, it teleports, seemingly bringing you to your next point of braking or turning without passing through the space in between. William Shatner himself would be impressed with performance such as this. The V8 howls and gnashes, and the four-wheel-drive system just gets all of that power down to the tarmac without delay.

Well, not always. Just as Captain Kirk had to be reminded that you cannae beat the laws of physics, so too the Panamera must bend to the will of nature. On our first day with the car, the roads of our Spanish test route were ice-rink-like with a mixture of driving rain and surface dust that just sucked the grip and traction away from the tyres. On such roads, in such conditions, the Panamera needed to be driven on a tight rein, lest it slip into either terminal understeer or too much tail-outness. Sadly, the steering was not a great deal of help here. While the three-spoke wheel feels fantastic to hold, and the weighting is terrific, there's just not that much actual feedback, so in these slippy conditions it's hard to feel when the car is starting to break traction at the front.

On our second day, in much drier conditions, the steering wasn't much better, and another aspect that makes the Panamera awkward came up - it's enormously wide, an elephantine 2.1-metres across the mirrors, which makes tight urban spaces, and oncoming traffic on narrow roads, more than a little awkward. You do get used to it with experience, but it's always going to be a limiting factor.

At least on the dry roads, we could get the power down a bit more and it proved that the Panamera could cover ground at a prodigious rate. While the steering remained mute, the rest of the chassis is more than up to the task, with a terrific ride quality (those air springs) balanced by rigorous body control and precision. It's one of those cars that makes its outrageous power figure feel suddenly entirely reasonable, and your big three-figure cornering speeds feel entirely justifiable, officer.

Put it this way - given the opportunity to short-cut our test route and get home early, we kept driving...

Verdict

The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is a mixed bag. It looks great, but it's massive. It has a glorious interior, but it's confusing at times and it's not as practical as a car this big really ought be. It is staggeringly fast and precise, but has steering that leaves you feeling a bit distant from the action. It's an estate, but its boot is smaller than that of a Nissan Qashqai. As we said, mixed, but that doesn't stop it being wildly impressive. Think of it as a 918 Spyder with four seats and a boot (and that's certainly how Porsche itself describes the car) and you've got a fair idea of what's going on here.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 4 Dec 2017









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2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.








 

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