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Driven: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.

Driven: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Porsche goes practical with an all-wheel-drive hybrid estate.

 



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Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: looks, interior, passenger and boot space, clever drivetrain management can reap economy rewards, chassis and engine worthy of Porsche badge

Not so good: can feel heavy at times, thirsty if running on fuel alone, expensive to buy

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Price: Sport Turismo from 73,071; 4 E-Hybrid from 83,288; car as tested 102,736
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol with 100kW electric motor
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door hybrid estate
CO2 emissions: 56g/km (VED 15 first 12 months, then 440 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 130 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 113mpg (consumes 15.9kWh/62.5 miles on battery power)
Top speed: 170mph
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Power: 330hp at 5,250-6,500rpm for engine; electric motor 136hp; combined system maximum output 462hp
Torque: 450Nm from 1,750-5,000rpm for engine; electric motor 400Nm; combined system maximum output 700Nm

Our view:

We suppose we should thank the original, and frightful, Porsche Cayenne for this. Despite the fact it used to annoy the hell out of us when people were adamant that the Cayenne was the vehicle that saved the German company (we'd argue the 986 Boxster of 1996 was actually the product that laid the foundations of Stuttgart's revival, upon which the Cayenne then built), it's now obvious that the pig-ugly SUV of 2002 had to go through its critical baptism of fire, in order for it to pave the way for a customer-accepted expansion of Porsche's model line beyond just sports cars.

To the point that we're now looking at this terrific beast, a part-electric Porsche estate with four-wheel drive and decent rear seats. To give the car its full and proper name, it's the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo and, let's face it, it's stunning. Like the Cayenne Mk1, the original-generation Panamera was no looker, either, but the '971 G2' version is much easier on the eye and the Sport Turismo isn't just 'not ugly', it's actually handsome.

All its proportions are so right. The slope of the rear screen, the bulging wheel arches, the sleek light clusters (linked by a Porsche-branded strip on the tailgate), the 20-inch alloys, all the lime-green detailing of the hybrid model - it all looks spot on. And the same goes for a superb interior, complete with the gorgeous big Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment screen, the banked array of soft-touch switches down the transmission tunnel and the info-laden instrument cluster with multiple digital displays. The quality is unremittingly top-notch from the headlining down to the carpet mats and we particularly love the thin-rimmed, perfectly round steering wheel. In terms of ambience, the cabin is first-class.

It's practical, too. OK, we're not about to give a 100,000-plus Porsche the 'Family Car of the Year Award', but the four full-sized seats on board are genuinely full-sized (rear legroom in the Sport Turismo is generous) and then there's that little '+1' pew centre rear, but that really is tiny. Out the back is a 425-litre boot, which of course means it's not the vastest load-lugger in the business... yet, as we shall come to see, the Sport Turismo proves to be far more useful than you'd give it credit for. Nevertheless, inside and out, we adore the Panamera wagon; it's a magnificent creation.

Let's get onto the dynamics, though. As a sports car, this Panamera is not the sharpest Porsche in the company's box, but it's so clearly a product of this revered brand in the way it handles that you can't help but admire it. You can feel the weight on the brakes, you can feel the unsprung mass of the big wheels at the corners, and you can feel as if you're driving something very big and wide if you thread it along a country lane at speed, but do so and it'll reward you with tremendous grip, a delicate front/rear balance and some of the best steering you'll encounter in the modern day. With both its electric and twin-turbo V6 petrol motors lit, driving all four wheels through the as-good-as-faultless eight-speed auto, it feels indecently fast - to the point where you wonder why you'd ever need the 680hp Turbo S hybrid model of the same machine, save for golf club/track day bragging rights - and it sounds good, too. In short, the drivetrain and chassis are everything you'd expect of a 170mph Porsche.

Despite all this road-holding goodness, this Panamera wormed its way so thoroughly into our affections during the course of a 342-mile week not by coming across as a slightly stretched 911, but by being laid-back, comfortable and thoroughly practical. Its first job, with almost a full charge in its 14kWh lithium-ion battery pack, was to mosey up the A1 to York and back, a distance of about 75 miles each way, as the crow flies. In 'Hybrid' drive mode and using its adaptive cruise control, the Sport Turismo used all of its electric power and returned more than 40mpg on the way up, with a less impressive 30.7mpg on a (longer, both in time and distance) journey back home at the end of the day. By the end of the whole trip, it had achieved 33.7mpg across 177.6 miles at 43mph, which is impressive given the car's 462hp peak output and 2.2-tonne weight.

So then we charged it up, which only took a few hours and which was simplicity itself - like any good PHEV - from a mains socket and, the next day, it was into the very heart of Nottingham and back in peak traffic congestion. Now, we know our way into Nottingham, but Porsche had told us the E-Hybrid uses its navigation system to work out how best to manage its electricity and fuel reserves, so you're better off having the satnav set to make the most of it. Therefore, despite knowing our ultimate destination, we plugged in the postcode and set off.

True to form, the Panamera did a brilliant job of reserving electric power for city driving alone; it employed its petrol engine for the 50mph SPECs-enforced A614 through the countryside to the north of the city, but then silently whistled into and out of Nottingham itself in EV mode. Net result? A whopping 68mpg going the 17.8 miles into town (41 minutes, 27mph average) and an overall 65.5mpg after 36 miles by the time we got home, the journey taking nearly an hour-and-a-half and conducted at a mere 26mph average. Yes, fine, it's hardly the official 113mpg (we all known NEDC is a joke by now), but 65.5mpg? From a 170mph, two-tonne, four-wheel-drive, petrol estate car? That's some kind of magic, isn't it?

We didn't charge it again after that, resulting in our less-than-stellar weekly overall economy figure of 31.1mpg at an average 36mph. However, if owners were to charge it regularly and use it on sub-100-mile journeys, then we have no doubt that a regular 40-50mpg would be easily attainable - and that's unbelievably good economy from a car like this.

And all the above is to say nothing of the Porsche's exemplary noise suppression, or its gloriously well-judged and light controls, or the fabulous ride quality on the PASM air suspension (slightly firm-edged, necessarily, courtesy of the Porsche's sporting aspirations and those big rims in the arches). Or the fact that we managed to cram two tall birdhouses and a load of other paraphernalia into the back of the car, as well as a child in a car seat and two adults up front; folding down one of its rear chairs was straightforward and liberated some of the Panamera's 1,295-litre ultimate carrying capacity. So estate-like was the Porker that we even hefted four bags of compost into its boot one day, without even once thinking 'hang on, this is a bloody Porsche, not an old Volvo 740 GLE.'

Aside from its expense (with options) and the fact it is a physically very big car that always feels its weight, the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a marvellous machine that's easy to love. And, beyond the realisation that it's a fabulous piece of engineering and a truly great car, it serves two further noble purposes: one, it vindicates Porsche's decision to abandon diesel power, because - if used properly and charged on a regular basis - then the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo has proven it can give back truly spectacular fuel returns; and two, it makes that hideous original Cayenne suddenly all the more plausible and, crucially, palatable. That, we can tell you, is a ginormous achievement in and of itself.

Alternatives:

Audi A6 Avant: new model isn't out yet, but we know all variants will have mild hybrid electrical assistance and an e-tron version isn't out of the question. It'll be a while coming, though...

BMW 530e iPerformance: another great German PHEV, but two things you might have noticed: one, the BMW doesn't have anything like 462hp; and two, it's not a Touring. Emphatic Porsche win.

Mercedes-AMG E 43 Estate: if you want roughly the same sort of performance and fuel returns (in an instance where the Panamera isn't regularly charged), then the much-cheaper E 43 is worth a look.


Matt Robinson - 1 May 2018









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2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.

2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Image by Porsche.








 

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