Porsche is in London today with a sneak peek of its latest luxury saloon sports car, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, which is set for its full debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The Panamera line is, along with the Cayenne, often derided by purist Porsche fans for being too large and conscious of too many everyday practicalities to remain faithful to the German marque’s sports car pedigree. But Porsche itself, obviously, disagrees — carrying a tagline of "courage changes everything," this new Panamera is presented as the no-compromise, have-all-the-cakes-and-eat-them-too vehicle for the modern driving enthusiast. It has four doors, accommodates four full-grown adults with ample legroom, and yet it has the speed and agility of a true sports car.
Maybe it’s the slimming white paintjob, but my first closeup inspection of the Panamera didn’t leave me feeling like it’s too huge or unwieldy to throw around a track. Nor is its shape all that far out from the one of a traditional Porsche two-seater. In a world where so many new gadgets and cars struggle to justify their existence, the purpose of the Panamera is rather obvious: it wants to combine real-world practicality with otherworldly fun, something Porsche revels in by talking about "thrilling contradictions." This E-Hybrid also combines power technologies, as its name suggests, with a purely electric range of up to 50km / 31m and a combined system power of 340kW / 462hp (136hp electric, 330hp from the twin-turbo V6 engine).
Starting out in electric mode by default, the Panamera can reach a maximum speed of 87mph without the help of the combustion engine and 172mph with. It delivers 700 Nm of system torque from a stationary position, and it reaches 62mph / 100kmh in 4.6 seconds. All of these numbers ultimately add up to an exciting all-wheel drive vehicle.
Porsche has worked some battery optimization magic, increasing capacity from 9.4kWh to 14.1kWh without, the company claims, increasing its weight. The pain of long recharge times is still a thing with this Panamera, which requires 5.8 hours to top its electric energy back up.
One of the interesting aspects of Porsche’s presentation is how closely the company tied its new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid to its Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid and its earlier 918 Spyder hybrid supercar. That’s partially as a way to borrow from those cars’ notoriety, but the thinking and engineering underpinning the new E-Hybrid is indeed based on the successful 918 formula. It’s also indicative of how firmly Porsche believes that electrical energy is part of "the performance kit of the future," with hybrid power systems achieving more power and driving fun as well as lower fuel consumption. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is rated at 113mpg, according to the New European Driving Cycle for plug-in hybrid models.
The Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is available to order now for delivery in 2017, and in spite of being one of the company’s most technically sophisticated cars, it’s actually the cheapest Panamera on offer, starting at £79,715 ($103,000) in the UK.