From the August 2018 issue
Like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the electrification of cars is inevitable. But don’t worry about it screwing up Porsche’s Panamera. While many plug-in hybrids set new standards for awful styling, lifeless powertrains, and numb chassis, this seductive hot-rod hybrid wagon isn’t among them.
The foundation of the E-Hybrid’s powertrain is the Volkswagen Group’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, tuned, in Panamera Turbo spec, to 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. Sandwiched between the aluminum engine block and the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is an electric motor fed by a 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery. It’s good for an additional 136 horses and 295 pound-feet of thrust. Combined output rivals that of many supercars: 680 horsepower and 626 pound-feet.
Though the allure of 14 miles of EPA-rated all-electric range-a number we surpassed on multiple occasions-is strong in certain social circles, it’s the glut of power that intrigues us. Toggling between the modes-E-Power (electric-only operation), Hybrid Auto (ECU-determined power source), Sport (combustion engine always on), and Sport Plus (combustion engine always on, aggressive regeneration)-is as simple as turning a knob on the steering wheel. But standing on the brake and applying full throttle in any mode will activate launch control. When it’s triggered, the engine revs to 5000 rpm. Release the brake pedal and all four Michelin Pilot Sport 4s claw into the tarmac, the launch hitting harder than a Frank Dux roundhouse [see “Whiplash”]. The run to 60 mph-in 2.9 seconds-happens faster than you can say Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Keep the throttle pinned and the quarter-mile flies by in 11.1 seconds at 126 mph, besting the nonhybrid Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo by 0.5 second. In less than half a minute, you’re at 180 mph.
With this long-roof Porsche tipping the scales at 5307 pounds, 564 more than the nonhybrid wagon, its handling is as mind-bending as its acceleration. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport pairs 48-volt front and rear active anti-roll bars with adaptive air springs, keeping the body flat all the way up to the 0.99-g roadholding limit. The steering is precise as the wagon carves corners with assistance from a torque-vectoring system and the optional rear-axle steering.
Brake feel, however, is the one constant reminder that you’re piloting a hybrid. There’s an unpredictable regenerative squish before the 28 total pistons housed in the S E-Hybrid’s Acid Green calipers gain useful purchase on the standard carbon-ceramic rotors. Despite the wonky pedal, this two and half tons of fun stops from 70 mph in a concise 154 feet. With a base price of $189,450, this kinetic missile isn’t cheap, but it’s a ray of insanely rapid hope on the electrified horizon.
The electrified Panamera Turbo wagon is in an elite class of catapults. Its average longitudinal g-force in the first second of acceleration far exceeds that of its gas-powered rivals. Every car listed here hits 60 mph in less than three seconds, but only one pulls harder than the S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo.
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