Unlike in Southern California, where there seems to be a Tesla in every pot, the chances of pulling up next to a Model S P100d here near Malaga in southern Spain are pretty slim. So it's easy to be smug when you're driving a 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo.
Use its launch control and Porsche says the plug-in hybrid can hit 60 mph from a dead stop in just 3.2 seconds. I'm pretty sure we can take the poor soul in the aging Kia Picanto. From the looks of things we can take everyone. Here, the 86-hp Picanto has some balls.
Porsche has been in the electrified-car business for some time, but the going has been slow. The German automaker's best-known hybrid, the 918 Spyder hypercar, hit in 2013. About 1,200 were built. In 2016, Porsche sold just 2,504 hybrid Panameras and Cayennes in the United States, and that was a 66 percent increase over the year before. Well, here comes the onslaught. In 2018, Porsche will introduce six E-Hybrid variants of the all-new Panamera, and a plug-in hybrid variant of the all-new 2019 Cayenne is coming.
Sitting atop this lineup is the $188,400 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, which will hit dealers this spring. The Sport Turismo is the wagon, or shooting brake, version of the Panamera, and it looks fantastic sitting on its 21-inch wheels backed up by standard carbon-ceramic brake rotors and 10-piston front calipers, each the size of a small child.
Long. Low. And wide. Extra wide. Within the small white stucco villages that dot Malaga's hilly landscape, the Porsche looks like something from outer space. Or at least from the future. Locals look up from their cigarettes and drop their jaws, turning their heads slowly like they do in movies, pointing with fingers and phones. Women, wearing scarves, reach for their children.
Maybe it's the burble of the Panamera's twin-turbo V8 that grabs their stare. It sounds like it makes 550 horsepower all by itself, and it does. The electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the 8-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission adds an additional 136 hp. Porsche says the big-buck hatchback utilizes a boost strategy derived from the 918 Spyder, and the result is 680 hp at 5,750 rpm and 626 lb-ft of torque at just 1,400 rpm.
The electric motor is powered by a liquid-cooled lithium-ion 14.1 kWh battery pack mounted behind the rear suspension under the cargo floor. It alone adds 280 pounds to the portly Porsche, which weighs more than 5,000 pounds. But its placement lowers the vehicle's center of gravity and helps offset the mass of the front-mounted engine, motor and transmission. The batteries also give the Panamera the ability to be driven 30 miles as a pure EV.
Porsche says the battery pack can be fully charged in 12 hours with a common 120V connection. If the optional 7.2 kW on-board charger is used instead of the standard 3.6-kW unit, the charging time decreases to less than three hours with a 240V connection. Porsche makes no mention of wireless charging, which is being hyped by BMW on its 530e iPerformance.
All-wheel drive is standard, as is a long list of Porsche's state-of-the-art, high-performance hardware including Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Power Steering Plus, the Sport Chrono Package and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a three-chamber air suspension, which provides incredible body control and a supple ride. On the narrow mountain roads east of Ronda and north of the coastal playground of Marbella, the Porsche defies its size like an NFL lineman with quick feet.
You sit low in the Panamera, as you would in a sports car, and it helps mask the big wagon's mass. Drive it quickly and the E-Hybrid Sport Turismo shrinks around you. Even on snaking tiny roads, last paved by Francisco Franco and too small for the car, it's fun, with great steering feel and ungodly traction and acceleration. The well-placed paddle shifters give you complete control over the 8-speed PDK, and the Panamera explodes out of second- and third-gear corners, forcing you to test the 16.5-inch diameter front brakes before the next bend.
Part of the Sport Chrono Package is a mode switch on the steering wheel that allows the driver to quickly change the performance and behavior of the powertrain. Sport and Sport Plus modes offer the highest levels of go by keeping the twin-turbo V8 participating in the drive and the battery charged to "ensure that sufficient boost reserve capacity is available when needed."
In E-Power mode, the Panamera is an electric car with a 30-mile range. It's silent, but still swift and responsive. Get too aggressive with the throttle, however, and the V8 will jump back into the game. Hybrid Auto combines the powerplants for ultimate possible efficiency, E-Hold allows you to save the battery's charge for later use and E-Charge allows the V8 engine to actually charge the batteries.
The powertrain switches among the modes with an unearthly refinement. From the driver's seat you hear nothing. You feel nothing. Your only clue is the rise and fall of the tachometer needle as the big V8 engine turns itself on and off, and it happens so quickly it's easy to miss.
And then there's the Sport Response button, or as I like to call it, Turbo Boost (please forgive my Knight Rider fetish). When pressed, the PDK transmission downshifts to the lowest possible gear and
uses a shifting calibration even more aggressive than that of Sport+, while offering maximum power and throttle response for 20 seconds. A countdown even appears on the instrument cluster as the Panamera shoots down the road as if it's been hit with a double shot of nitrous. But here's the best part: The feature can be used as often as desired.
Out of the hills and on the open road that runs along the coast. It's basically a deserted stretch of Spain's smoothest interstate, dead straight with two lanes in each direction, and not a Kia Picanto in sight. And there's stop sign at the end of the on-ramp.
It's time to test the Launch Control. Full stop. Sport+ mode. Left foot on the brake. Right foot floors the gas. The mighty V8 roars like a caged beast as the tach needle jumps to 5,000 rpm. Left foot off the brake. There's a pause. A split second of nothing. And then your entire world hits you in the back of the head as the PDK's clutches slam together with a bang and the Panamera's four enormous Michelin's claw at the asphalt.
First gear is over before I can peel my skull from the headrest. And second gear pulls just as hard. Then the PDK snatches third right on the engine's 6,800-rpm redline. The acceleration continues at an astonishing rate well past the posted speed limit. Fourth gear, and the Sport Turismo is still gathering speed as if it's being pushed by the hand of Zeus.
I glance down at the digital speedometer. We're at more than 200 kph. Fifth gear. Foot still on the floor. Still no traffic. Sixth gear. Porsche says the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is capable of 192 mph. But I'm not. Not on this road. Not today. Before I lift I give the speedo another glance: 301 kph. That's 187 mph and it was still accelerating. Effortless. Steady as a rock. No drama. I could have steered it with one hand. Wow.
Later that night over drinks, the Panamera director of powertrain tells me that the Panamera's awesome stability is due in part due to its Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA) system which manipulates the angle of the rear spoiler depending on speed and need. In Sport and Sport+ modes, at speeds of more than 55 miles per hour, the roof spoiler automatically moves to the performance position with an angle of +1 degree to increase stability and lateral dynamics. In normal driving, the spoiler remains retracted with an angle of -7 degrees to reduce drag and optimize fuel consumption.
Porsche says overall range and EPA-rated fuel economy numbers will be released closer to the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo's on-sale date. And just in case you were wondering, it is officially the longest name for a car in the history of Porsche. They saved it for a good one.
2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo First Drive Review | Long name, astonishing quickness originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:01:00 EST.