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First drive: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche GB.

First drive: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
Porsche’s most eco-leaning model of three PHEVs in the Panamera line-up, tested with its now-bigger battery.


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Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (2021MY)

4 4 4 4 4

The second wave of the second iteration of the second generation of the Porsche Panamera includes this 4 E-Hybrid. Now it has a bigger battery, is it the model to go to if you don't need the sharpest chassis from your sports saloon?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
Pricing: Panamera range from £69,860, 4 E-Hybrid as tested from £83,720
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol with 100kW (136hp) electric motor and 17.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: PTM all-wheel drive, eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid executive sports fastback
CO2 emissions: 45-57g/km (either VED Band 1-50 alternative fuel cars or Band 51-75 alternative fuel cars: £0 or £15 first 12 months, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 141.2mpg, power consumption 22.6kWh/62.5 miles (combined weighted WLTP), electric range 30.5-34.8 miles
Top speed: 174mph (hybrid, 87mph limited electric)
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Power: petrol 330hp at 5,400-6,400rpm, electric motor 136hp, combined system output 462hp
Torque: petrol 450Nm at 1,800-5,000rpm, electric motor 400Nm, combined system output 700Nm
Boot space: 403-1,242 litres

What's this?

With the bulk of the second-generation Porsche Panamera line-up already in place, including the all-new 4S E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version shoehorned into the middle of the range, it's time for 'wave two' to land. And this, the 4 E-Hybrid, is part of that follow-up phalanx. Now, you're probably looking and thinking we've got ourselves all in a muddle, but remember - while these two are ostensibly similar, using the same 2.9-litre biturbo V6 petrol engine and a 100kW (136hp) electric motor, the key difference between them is summarised by that 'S' in the middle of one of their nameplates. Because the 4 E-Hybrid is almost totally unchanged from its pre-facelift format, meaning its V6 ICE develops 330hp and 450Nm towards its total powertrain outputs of 462hp and 700Nm, whereas the 4S E-Hybrid's V6 is, well, in 4S spec, which means 440hp and 550Nm towards overalls of 560hp and 750Nm.

And yes, that does indeed result in there being no fewer than three PHEVs in the revised Panamera 'G2 II' offering, as we're still awaiting a go in the quite ridiculous, 700hp Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid that is the electrified flagship.

Yet while it might look odd to offer so many plug-in variants in what is a relatively compact, high-end sports saloon line-up, of course it's worth remembering that Porsche has distanced itself from diesel so you kind of have to think of the PHEVs as the frugal alternatives to the petrols. Even though they're part-powered by petrol engines. Yes. Anyway, the revised 971.2 4 E-Hybrid has the ever-so-slightly amended exterior looks of all updated second-gen Panameras and it also has a bigger battery. It's now up to 17.9kWh, instead of 14.1kWh previously, which means it can go almost 35 miles on electric power alone. This might not seem like a huge increase on the pre-facelift car's 30-mile claim, but that was ratified under NEDC, while the new one's number is WLTP. And that means you've got much more chance of actually getting 35 miles out of the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY in the real world.

How does it drive?

There's a lot to recommend the 4 E-Hybrid. Like any Panamera, it looks fabulous on the outside and it has a simply terrific cabin, one of the best in the business. And there's more to it than mere aesthetic appeal. Such as the fact it is a decent £17,970 cheaper than the 4S E-Hybrid, although the two cars have highly similar eco-stats and naturally the 560hp PHEV is obviously quicker - running 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds compared to this car's 4.4-second sprint. Never mind; that's still pretty accelerative, especially for a vehicle which weighs a whopping 2,295kg.

But therein lies the rub. We totally understand that Porsche has to offer cars with low CO2 outputs to meet fleet emissions figures, and we totally understand that it no longer wants to use diesel fuel in order to achieve that goal, and we totally understand that if they're used correctly (with lots of mains charging of the electrical bits of their drivetrains) then PHEVs do make a lot of sense, especially to business users where their tailpipe outputs result in very low BIK taxation. And we'd go so far as to say the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid with the bigger battery is, as you would expect of this marque, a relatively magnificent execution of the petrol-electric formula.

Yet this is a Porsche. There are certain things you demand of its dynamics that the 4 E-Hybrid's considerable weight simply prevents you from experiencing. This is a car that feels heavy. The on-paper figures might suggest otherwise, but in practice it doesn't feel massively quick and it also isn't the most alluring combustion engine to listen to. However, it's the fact the 4 E-Hybrid doesn't want to get turned in that eagerly, nor does it enjoy being pushed through high-speed direction changes or spirited cornering, which is what lets it down. It's perfectly capable and proficient, with typically brilliant steering and body control, but it never feels exciting or desirable to throw the Panamera PHEV about the place. Not in the way, for example, that the sensational GTS stablemate is. Sure, that's powered by a V8 and it's basically £23,500 more expensive. But it's so, so worth it.

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is fine enough, of course, and it excels if you just keep it within itself and drive it gently, where the car's sheer mass and Porsche's spectacular expertise with dampers means the ride quality is exceptional and the rolling refinement is as good as anything you'll find. But if you're buying a Porsche precisely because it's a Porsche, then the 4 E-Hybrid might leave you feeling a touch underwhelmed.


Porsche, like all manufacturers, has to start the transition to a future of electrified power and cars like the largely excellent Panamera 4 E-Hybrid are part of the process of that happening. And, in the here and now, this PHEV is a car you can safely buy with your head if you want a Porsche but you need to watch the pennies in terms of taxation. However, the more we drive the blinding non-electrified Panameras, the more these PHEV models feel a bit too weighty and a bit too compromised to be the ones to recommend you buy with your heart. If you want a spectacular Panamera, buy a GTS Sport Turismo. If you want a stunning electric Porsche, save up a bit harder and get yourself in the jaw-dropping Taycan EV. For us, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid feels caught between the two stools of the eco and sporting sides of its character, and regrettably it doesn't quite excel at either of them.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 7 Dec 2020    - Porsche road tests
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2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.

2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2021MY UK test. Image by Porsche GB.


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