Porsche adds electric efficiency, better technology and more capacity to the Panamera without compromising what makes this car great.
The 2018 Panamera checks all of the boxes for what I want in a Porsche : It's powerful and nimble, crammed with tech and style, and (most importantly) it's stupidly fast. But then it keeps going. This Sport Turismo model is also a wagon and the E-Hybrid designation means it's got plug-in power... like some kind of a Porsche Pana-Prius Prime.
And yet, Porsche has managed to add efficiency, technology and a weird roofline without compromising what makes this car great. It still feels like a Panamera. And more importantly, the 2018 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo feels like a proper Porsche.
The E-Hybrid's engine bay is home to a peach of a powertrain. Porsche's 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The V6 makes 330 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, which would be impressive enough on its own, but the combustion engine is joined by an electric motor that brings an additional 136 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to the power party.
In total, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid makes 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque -- not too shabby for a "green" car. Driven in anger, this version of the Panny can scramble from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds and onward to a top track speed of 170 mph.
This green car is outfitted with Acid Green monobloc aluminum brakes that are almost as impressive as the engine. Six-piston calipers grab 390-millimeter rotors up front, while four-pot calipers and 365-mm rotors are fitted at the rear. Together, they shave off speed as fast as the Panamera piles it on.
Keeping the wheels planted over bumps is Porsche's three-chamber air suspension with variable firmness, ride height adjustment and self-leveling that keeps the Sport Turismo riding true even when loaded up with cargo. An optional $1,620 rear-axle steering upgrade further improves low-speed agility and high-speed stability.
Porsche's Sport Chrono package is standard on the E-hybrid putting a cool lap timer on the dashboard, a drive mode switch on the steering wheel and adding the nifty "Sport Response" button. When pressed Sport Response temporarily drops the engine and transmission into their most potent and responsive settings for a 20-second burst of mind-blowing acceleration, great for quick passes or just scaring the bejesus out of your unassuming passengers.
Being a plug-in car, the E-Hybrid features a reasonably-sized 14-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and can roll fully electrically for about 16 miles before waking up the gasoline engine. Plugging into a 240-volt charging station juices the battery back up in about 3 hours.
Keep a light foot and you can expect an EPA estimated 46 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) for those initial electric miles, dropping down to 22 combined mpg for hybrid operation -- nowhere near Prius Prime numbers, but way more fun.
Because Porsche sandwiched the electric motor between the engine and transmission, the E-Hybrid can shift gears in full-electric mode, granting it a whisper-quiet top electric speed of 87 mph and a 0-60 time of around 5.7 seconds. This isn't some hobbled "eco mode" -- in EV operation, the big Sport Turismo is quicker than a Honda S2000 .
The real reason, I believe, that Porsche made Sport Chrono standard is to grant easy access to the bevy of hybrid and electric drive modes made possible by the plug-in hybrid powertrain. There are a total of four hybrid-specific drive modes accessed by tapping or twisting the mode selector.
Hybrid Auto is the default mode that lets the E-Hybrid's computer decide how best to use the combustion and electric motors. E-Power mode attempts to use only electric power until the charge is depleted. E-Charge only uses the gasoline engine, actively generating battery charge as it goes. Finally, E-Hold attempts to maintain a preset battery charge state, which is useful for saving some urban electric range for the end of a long highway commute.
The E-Hybrid powertrain isn't the only part packed with electronic wizardry. The cabin and dashboard are bursting at the seams with tech, too.
Ahead of the driver at front and center is the Porsche Advanced Cockpit instrument cluster: a physical, analog tachometer flanked by dual 7-inch displays that can display vehicle information, audio source, Bluetooth telephony, performance data or a large navigation map .
The main event is the 12.3-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system. This new generation software features a slick, dark design that's easy to understand and very customizable. The home screen, for example, can be customized with widgets, shortcuts and quick access toggles for commonly used features. I could have a list of frequently accessed destinations, a toggle for my favorite hybrid driving modes and a small map quickly accessible on the home display.
A plug-in car also needs to be a connected one, so the E-Hybrid features Porsche Car Connect LTE remote services. This always-on data connection allows for vehicle tracking, charge monitoring and remote features when outside the car. While inside the car, it allows for in-dash apps, such as a parking locator or flight status monitoring at nearby airports, and a Wi-Fi hotspot for passengers' devices.
Apple CarPlay connectivity allows drivers to bring Apple Maps , Google Maps, Waze and a wide range of audio streaming apps to the dashboard. Sadly for me, Android Auto is not yet supported by this newest generation of Porsche's software.
At this price point, much of what the Panamera 4 offers is standard equipment. However, you might need to pay extra to get more driver aid tech than the standard rear camera and front and rear parking proximity sensors.
My example featured a $5,370 Assistance package that bundles features like Porsche InnoDrive Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Jam Assist, lane-keep assist and night vision into one handy checkbox.
InnoDrive is noteworthy because it extends adaptive cruise control beyond keeping a safe distance behind a lead car. InnoDrive uses radar, cameras, topographic info, GPS, precise map data and more to adjust the Panamera's speed and gear selection to match conditions much further down the road.
InnoDrive even takes into account the selected drive mode, meaning an E-Hybrid under cruise control can make smarter use of its regenerative braking and coasting because it knows if an intersection, traffic jam or even a hill is around the next corner. Conversely, if you're the kind of nutter that likes to combine Sport mode with cruise control, you'll notice the Panamera behaving more aggressively under InnoDrive.
The battery pack costs Panamera E-Hybrid models about 3.3 cubic feet of cargo space, but the vertical hatchback and humpback profile that separate the Sport Turismo from the standard Panamera liftback sedan bump the available room back up to 15 cubic feet or 45.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.
That's still only 5 cubic feet more than the E-Hybrid sedan. And because the Sport Turismo isn't any longer, all that extra room for activities is up high. So while the Sport Turismo can better gobble up bulky items, there's no floor space advantage for loading long items or unstackable grocery bags.
Consider also that E-Hybrid models ship with a charger (with 120-volt and 240-volt leads) but no space beneath the floor to store them, so you can expect to lose about a cubic foot of newfound stowage to the cables in their tote. Of course, you could just leave them at home -- with the gasoline engine, you don't really need them.
If you truly need a Porsche PHEV with a ton of space, the advantage goes to the 27.3 cubic foot Cayenne E-Hybrid. That said, the Sport Turismo looks so much more awesome than an SUV.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo starts at $105,050 (including $1,050 in destination fees). There's no way around it, that's a lot of money. Relatively speaking, however, it's not a huge premium over the non-hybrid Sport Turismo 4's $96,000 starting price when you consider this also rolls upgrades like the Sport Chrono package.
My example -- with rear steering upgrade, driver aid suite and a few styling and amenities upgrades -- tested at $118,150. That's about the sweet spot for this model.
Subjectively, I don't think I'd go the Sport Turismo route specifically. Yes, this gorgeous roofline is pushing all of my right buttons (we enthusiasts do love a good wagon) but the liftback sedan is practically as spacious, better looking and slightly sharper: it's how I'd spec it. (Though, I'd pick a more interesting color than silver -- something like Sapphire Blue or Mamba Green would hit the spot.)
The E-Hybrid's 16 miles of electric range may not sound like much, but it's enough juice to run a few gas-free neighborhood errands. With regular plug-ins, every 16 miles is a step toward greatly improving the long-term efficiency of this large sport wagon. Plus, it grants a nice electric boost to the Panamera's already impressive performance without impacting its Porsche-ness. Win-win. But of course, YMMV.