Introducing the fastest hybrid on the planet: The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid!
That’s a pretty lofty claim even for a company renowned for producing some very fast automobiles but after spending some time behind the wheel, I can testify this one is very quick, very stable, very responsive and every other “very-able” you can think of.
It’s what Panamera was meant to look like. It does what a Porsche is meant to do.
To show us, and the world, what a plug-in hybrid can do, Porsche took over the stunning Villa Eyrie Resort in the Malahat area to accommodate media guests from all over the world and the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit to accommodate those guests’ desire for speed and performance.
In between are some of the curviest paved roads this side of rural California with enough elevation changes to make getting there at least half the fun.
The S E-Hybrid was one of two vehicles unveiled here. The other was the 2018 Panamera Sport Turismo.
This is what Panamera should have looked like in the first place, but perhaps it was better to win over the haters before bringing on the ultimate plan. (Kelly Taylor gives us his impressions of the Sport Turismo in a separate article.)
The new flagship of the Panamera lineup, combines the 4-litre bi-turbo V8 engine from the Panamera Turbo with an electric motor to produce a whopping 680 horsepower – 550 from the gasoline engine and 136 from the electric motor. Torque is rated at 568 lb-ft for the V8 and 295 lb. ft. for the electric motor. The result is exhilarating off-the-line response of 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4-seconds and 100 to 200 km/h in just 8.3 ticks of the timer. Top speed is limited to 310 km/h.
The power gets to all four wheels through a new, fast-shifting, 8-speed PDK automatic transmission and the Porsche Traction Management (PTM).
The electric motor get is power from a liquid-cooled 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery located in the rear of the car. The battery can be fully charged within six hours via a 230-volt connection at 10 A or 2.4 by adding the optional 7.2 kW onboard charger.
When you start, the car is in pure electric “E-Power” mode which is good for 50 km. If the accelerator is pressed beyond a specified point or when the charge level goes below a minimum value, “Hybrid Auto” kicks in, providing power from both gasoline and electric motors. Fuel efficiency is rated at 2.9 L/100 km for the gasoline engine and 16.2 kWh/100 km for battery power.
Sport Chrono Package with steering wheel mode switch is standard equipment. Modes include the familiar Sport and Sport Plus and add hybrid-specific E-Power, Hybrid Auto, E-Hold and E-Charge. The last charges the battery with the gas engine, using a higher power level than actually needed just for driving.
That’s some of the technical stuff, so what about the people space? (Isn’t it nice to say Porsche people space without talking about an SUV?).
The Turbo S E-Hybrid comes in two sizes: regular and Executive. In regular, there’s comfortable space for four, in Executive, the room is abundant. Since the time I spent was with the regular size vehicle, that’s what I will deal with.
The interior is Porsche Panamera posh: leather, wood, 14-way power seats (heated front and rear), Bose audio system and power everything. There’s room for legs, hips, heads and elbows in all four seating positions. It means a driver can go out, go places, have some fun and take three people along.
There’s room for luggage too, but you have to pack carefully since there’s a “suitcase” mounted in the middle of the trunk that contains the connectors for the plug-in system. The regular car’s cargo capacity ranges from 405-1,245 L.
The cockpit features hybrid-specific displays with touch controls and two 7-inch screens. A 12.3-inch touchscreen in the centre console functions as a central PCM control and display. Standard “E-Performance” features include Sport Chrono Package with a mode switch on the steering wheel with Sport and Sport Plus modes along with E-Power and Hybrid Auto.
But, really, this car is all about the driving.
Probably the best word to describe this car is “composed.” It does not get upset when pushed hard in corners on rough, uneven surfaces if Vancouver roads. It maintains its composure even when called to brake in mid-corner (a real no-no with most vehicles).
On the track we played follow the leader with a Porsche instructor at ever-increasing velocity on the 2.3 km, 19-turn motorsport circuit.
The rules were: no passing, maintain a two to three-length spacing and all electronic aids were to remain turned on. Okay, no problem. Let’s go!
I begin smiling at turn one of the motorsport circuit and that smile lasted until well after my stint behind the wheel. The all-wheel-drive Panamera easily handled the 19 turns and numerous elevation changes in the challenging road course, responding instantly to steering inputs, its wide, 21-inch tires sticking to the pavement as though on rails.
The electronic aids I mentioned include the usual suspects like ABS, stability control and traction control along with air suspension with active suspension management, active chassis control and torque vectoring. It’s like having a really big go-kart.
If stopping is called for, the E-Hybrid answers the call with standard ceramic composite brakes.
The fun comes to an end far too soon. I want more!
As an aside, the one thing we do not get to do is a night drive to experience the new LED Matrix headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus, the latest in adaptive lighting. Something to look forward to perhaps.
The price? The regular size begins at $209,800 while the Executive length starts at $221,700.
2018 Porsche Panamera
Trim level: Turbo S E-Hybrid
Price before taxes: $209,800.00 (base)
Configuration: front engine, AWD
Engine/transmission: 4.0 L bi-turbo V8/ 8-speed automatic/hybrid electric motor
Power/torque: 680 hp/850 lb-ft (system)
Fuel economy ratings: 2.9 L/100 km combined
Warranties: four years, 80,000 km comprehensive
Competitors: Tesla Model S and Mercedes-Benz AMG S65 (maybe)