Porsche has been throwing its weight behind hybrid technology of late. Not content with building the gorgeous 918 Spyder and the crazy-as-cat-phlegm GT3-R hybrid, the company will also begin selling a Panamera S Hybrid in time for summer 2011.
The Panamera S Hybrid car is driven by the same power gubbins as the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid -- the company's clean, green 4x4. That means it gets a 3-litre supercharged V6 engine producing 333hp, buddied up with a 47hp (34kW) electric motor. Together, these deliver 2.39hp per gramme of CO2 -- a ratio Porsche says is unmatched in the UK car market.
The Panamera S Hybrid zips from 0-60mph in a respectable, if hardly groin tingling, 6 seconds. It's a sprint which takes the hybrid Lexus GS 450h -- one of the Porsche's closest rivals -- 5.9 seconds, but the Panamera hammers the Lexus with superior top speed and efficiency.
The S Hybrid can reach an impressive 168mph top speed, achieves fuel economy of 41.5mpg on the combined cycle and emits CO2 at a rate of just 159g/km. The Lexus in contrast, maxes out at 149mph, guzzles 36.7mpg and emits 179g/km.
Porsche says the Panamera S Hybrid achieves its impressive numbers thanks to a number of key technologies, none more frightening than 'sailing mode'. When no power is required from the combustion engine, sailing mode switches off the engine completely and disengages the drivetrain -- a bit like stop-start technology does, except at alarming speeds of up to 103mph.
Luckily, the electric motor and battery provide auxiliary power to vital systems such as power steering, headlights, brakes and so on while in motion.
The Panamera S Hybrid's petrol engine and electric motor are capable of driving the car as a pair or in isolation. In electric-only mode, the vehicle's nickel-metal hydride battery gives the electric motor a range of around 1.25 miles and a top speed of 53mph depending on road and traffic conditions (53mph on a flat road isn't the same as 53mph uphill).
The Panamera S Hybrid will hit UK dealerships this June, priced from £86,146. Have a flick through our photo gallery above to get a closer look.