Porsche Panamera hybrid engines, drive & performance
While not as agile as a 911, the Porsche Panamera hybrid is satisfying to drive and fearsomely fast
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The Panamera E-Hybrid is a fast car by anyone's standards – despite its size and weight, there's sufficient performance to keep up with some of the brand's dedicated sports cars in a straight line.
As this is a Porsche, it comes as no surprise that its drivetrain is very well engineered. The hybrid system works well when left to its own devices in hybrid mode: it pulls away under electric power with a slight whine, only letting the petrol engine join in under harder acceleration.
The V6 in the 4 E-Hybrid and 4S E-Hybrid models isn't the most sonorous engine that Porsche has made, but it's effective – overtaking from any speed is effortless. An eight-speed PDK dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive are standard, so shifts are slick and grip is always there when required.
Keen drivers may lament a lack of interaction and playfulness compared to manual-gearbox, rear-wheel-drive offerings, but Porsche would argue that's what its Cayman and 911 models are for. It may not be as engaging as those cars, but the hybrid Panamera does a great job of remaining good to drive despite its 2,200kg weight.
Porsche Panamera hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
Much as with Porsche's Le Mans racing cars (which share the Panamera's distinctive LED light signature, as it goes), the Panamera's electrification serves to improve performance as much as efficiency.
Even the entry-level 4 E-Hybrid makes a hefty 456bhp, for a 4.4-second 0-62mph time and Autobahn-appropriate top speed of 174mph The 4S E-Hybrid's engine produces 435bhp on its own and is supplemented by the same 134bhp electric motor; there's a total of 552bhp on tap, with 750Nm of torque ensuring there's effortless acceleration to be had from any speed.
The Turbo S E-Hybrid is the most powerful Panamera hybrid you can buy: nearly 700bhp and a near-200mph top speed, combined with a lightning-quick 3.2-second 0-62mph time, is more performance than anyone could reasonably need or use on public roads, but it makes for an undeniably thrilling driving experience.
Porsche seems incapable of making a car that handles poorly and the hybrid Panamera is no exception to this rule. As a large four-seater with the extra weight of a hybrid system on board, it's unavoidably less nimble than a sports car, but huge power, lots of grip and good body control means it still feels swift and planted on a typical British B-road. The Panamera can feel very large on UK roads, however, and its suspension – while well damped – is quite noisy as it works away to deal with the worst of our tarmac surfaces.
In more sedate driving, the Panamera is equally impressive, with a quiet interior and smooth ride when cruising on the motorway. Transition from electric to petrol power is almost seamless, but we do have one criticism: the regenerative brakes can take some getting used to, making smooth deceleration at low speeds tricky.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe Porsche Panamera hybrid offers a tantalising blend of exhilarating performance and superb efficiency
- 2Range, MPG, CO2 & chargingFigures for the Porsche Panamera hybrid are impressive, but how close you come to achieving them will depend on your driving style
- 3Running costsThe Panamera hybrids are a lot cheaper to run than equivalent petrols or diesels – especially if you use electric power as much as possible
- 4Engines, drive & performance - currently readingWhile not as agile as a 911, the Porsche Panamera hybrid is satisfying to drive and fearsomely fast
- 5Interior & comfortThe Porsche Panamera hybrid is comfortable and well designed, and the high-quality interior is a real highlight
- 6Practicality & boot spaceThe Panamera hybrid isn't quite as practical or spacious as a conventional luxury saloon, but as a 'four-door sports car' it does very well
- 7Reliability & safetyThere has been no independent crash-testing of the Porsche Panamera hybrid, but it comes with a wealth of safety technology and the brand’s reliability record is good