Does the huge Panamera range need a V6 petrol-hybrid option?
The Porsche Panamera can be had in a bewildering array of sizes, colours and flavours, everything from the entry-level Panamera up to the Turbo with a price tag in six figures. This latest addition to the menu, the 4 E-Hybrid, slots in between the Panamera 4 and the 4S in terms of price, but is there a gap?
It’s faintly confusing that the 4 E-Hybrid is, at the same time, more powerful yet slower accelerating than either the Panamera 4 or the 4S. It has the twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 of the 4S, but detuned to 326bhp. But then it has an electric motor adding 134bhp and a whopping 295lb ft of torque to add to the 332lb ft of torque from the V6.
Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
Engine: 2.9-litre, V6, twin-turbocharged petrol plus electric motor
Torque: 516lb ft
Gearbox: Eight-speed twin-clutch automatic
Kerb weight: 2170kg
Top speed: 172mph
Fuel economy: 113.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 56g/km
This electric motor sits upstream of the gearbox, so all that power goes through a common transmission, rather than the electric motor driving an axle. The effect, when you give it some rolling in-gear acceleration, is rather better than the 0-62mph time of 4.6sec would indicate – though that’s hardly a large number. It feels instantly potent, with the sort of midrange that makes long-distance work a pleasure rather than a chore.
In theory this gives the best of both worlds, working in cities and across the wide-open spaces. Certainly in cities it’s quiet and calm and should run for about 25 miles just on the electric power. But the eight-speed transmission does struggle a bit to keep things smooth at low speeds.
However, head out on the highway and the gearbox starts to smooth things out and gains control again. And at that point the V6 starts to howl and growl in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.
Shifting between modes, from Electric right up to Sport +, really does show up the many sides to the hybrid Panamera’s character, making a car that really does offer flexibility in its delivery.
This hybrid is about £10,000 cheaper than the 4S but, unlike the 4S, it gets adaptive air suspension as standard. There is clearly a weight penalty with the hybrid powertrain, but the air suspension does a masterly job of dealing with and disguising it until you’re out on the ragged edge. The handling and ride are supple, controlled and really impressive.
It’s hard not to really like the Panamera in any of its many manifestations. For a luxury GT car, it’s got it taped whatever is propelling it. This hybrid comes down the chain of greatness after the Turbo and the 4S Diesel, but if you want some electric in the mix this is a terrific combination. Add in some money saving on the price and in theory on the running and you have an attractive addition to the Panamera fleet.