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£82,439 when new
As pretty as the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is to look at, its styling is not the only story here. It’s the new plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain which the sleek new silhouette is hiding that’s the main feature. It’s entirely possible, if you believe the swirling rumours, that a production version of the car will be built in a few years, but for now you really shouldn’t let that knowledge affect your buying decisions. The e-hybrid drivetrain, as Porsche calls it, will debut much sooner. Effectively a thorough upgrade of the existing Porsche parallel hybrid drivetrain found in the current Panamera and Cayenne, e-hybrid swaps the existing nickel-hydride battery for a much more perky lithium-ion unit. This is almost exactly the same size as the more ploddy ni-hy cell but offers much greater storage capacity. The li-ion battery offers more of everything you want from a hybrid - faster acceleration, greater range and a higher top speed without having to resort to waking up the 333bhp, 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine, a carry-over from the current system. The other new element - besides the ability to plug the car into the mains - is the electric motor, which now produces around double the amount of power (95bhp) compared with today’s electric engine. This brings the total drivetrain output to a maximum of 416bhp, allows a top all-electric speed (if you feather the right pedal) of over 81mph and increases the maximum all-electric range (not at 81mph, I might add) to about 18 miles. Petrol consumption is a claimed 81mpg. If you just get in the car and start driving, it defaults to all-electric driving as much as possible. This can be overridden by slamming down the throttle, or, more elegantly, by pressing a wheel-mounted button. This allows you to charge up the battery as you zip down the motorway and then cruise into town on a wave of electric silence. Charging using an AC plug takes two and a half hours.