What is it?
A contradiction in terms, a sports saloon with the goal of combining high economy and performance. The battery-boosted Panamera uses a 3.0-litre V6 with a supercharger and full parallel hybrid system containing batteries and electric motors. New for 2014 is added plug-in capability for the batteries: they can now be charged in under four hours, giving between 11 and 22 miles on battery power alone. At speeds of up to 84mph, too. In morphing from Hybrid to E-Hybrid, the eco Panamera’s suddenly become interesting.
Porsche claims that the lithium ion battery positioning, along with the additional motors, means the Panamera E-Hybrid has the best weight distribution among its relatives. Certainly the hybrid paraphernalia doesn’t upset the driving experience like it does on its Cayenne relation.
Now it has plug-in capability, power has gone up, to 410hp and a useful 435lb ft of torque. Yes, it’s bulky (it weighs a remarkable 2.1 tonnes!), but the instant reaction of the electric motors disguise much of this. Gliding around silently on battery power alone is satisfying, and it’s satisfyingly brisk even without the engine, but it’s at its best when the engine kicks in as well: 0-60mph then takes 5.5 seconds, onto a decidedly un-green 168mph maximum.
There are compromises: the 3.0-litre V6 isn’t the most soulful-sounding engine, and the brakes lack Porsche’s usual bite. The way it juggles two electric motors, eight gears and a petrol supercharged engine is pretty impressive, though.
On the inside
Has the usual Panamera cockpit features – with the high transmission tunnel running from the dash back through the rear passenger compartment – it’s comfy back there. Being a battery-boosted model, there are more buttons to play with, the centre screen and info display among the dials showing what’s going on with the drivetrain. It’s refined inside, especially when it shuts down the engine and sails along on battery power at higher speeds. The boot loses a few litres, but otherwise it’s business as usual.
The old Panamera Hybrid didn’t make much sense in Europe, as it wasn’t all that much more environmentally friendly than the diesel, and a lot more expensive. This one is even pricier, but it’s also a lot more fuel efficient, on the official combined cycle at least. The stats say it can average 91mpg and emits 71g/km CO2, which is frankly ridiculous for a Porsche-badged machine that’s as swift as this. Drive short distances under battery power and it’ll use no fuel, put out no CO2. If you live in London, Boris will even let you dodge the Congestion Charge. Do you still want that diesel?