2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, charged and ready: Motoramic Drives
For decades, whipping someone in a Porsche was all about speed.
But on this day, after 33 miles through the Bavarian Alps in the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, I’m claiming a strange new victory: Crushing, in-your-face fuel economy.
Those 33 miles, you see, were accomplished entirely on electricity, beating my more lead-footed journalist colleagues. Not once did the Porsche’s supercharged V-6 fire up over those 33 mountain miles — though when it did, this Panamera still shot from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, amassing a combined 416 hp from its gasoline engine and robust 95-horse electric motor.
The first plug-in hybrid in Porsche history is everything the flawed (and now defunct) Fisker Karma was supposed to be: Genuinely luxurious, roomy, quiet and fast. The Porsche is also more satisfying than any plug-in hybrid before it, as it should be for a car that starts at $99,975, nearly triple the post-rebate price of a Chevy Volt.
Unlike any previous plug-in hybrid, including the Fisker, Volt or Toyota Prius, the Porsche can quickly and fully recharge its lithium-ion battery while driving on gasoline – not simply recycle scraps of energy from braking. It's a breakthrough the industry has been waiting for.
The Porsche is tailor made for a coming world in which cities may bar gasoline cars from entering city gates – or charge hefty fees to do so, as London is already doing with a roughly $15 to $17 congestion charge. The Porsche allows an owner to start the day clocking 22 miles or more on electricity, and then to restore that battery power while driving. So when the Porsche hybrid pulls into London, even after hundreds of miles of driving, it can have a topped-off battery ready to go, making it essentially an electric car for urban use.
Compared with last year’s conventional Panamera Hybrid, the plug-in model’s battery is five times as powerful – with 9.4 kilowatt hours of lithium-ion juice – but fits into the same amount of space. The entire hybrid system, including that 95-hp electric motor that doubles the previous output, weighs just 120 pounds more than before.
Despite weighing nearly 5,000 pounds — about 400 more than the 4S model — the E-Hybrid’s 4.9-second scamper to 60 mph trails the 4S by just 0.3 seconds.
Drivers can operate the Porsche in full-electric mode at the touch of a button, at speeds up to 83 mph. Want more power? Push the gas pedal past a certain point, and a piston in the throttle assembly fires the engine for impressive acceleration. Or drive in hybrid mode, and the Porsche’s parallel hybrid system mixes and matches gas and electric power as the situation demands – picture a Toyota Prius, only one that tops out at 167 mph.