What is it?
It’s Porsche’s latest green-tinged limousine, a plug-in hybrid version of its second-generation Panamera that blends performance and luxury with a dose of enviro-friendly motoring.
How much does it cost and what do you get?
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In spite of its high-tech powerplant, the 4 E-Hybrid sits in the middle of the Panamera range and is offered in both sedan and the new Sport Turismo shooting brake body styles.
The sedan we’re testing costs from $248,500 (plus on-road costs), which is $23k more expensive than the conventionally-powered Panamera 4 on which it is based but a substantial $62k less than the high-performance 4S that sits above it and produces similar levels of performance.
In any case, the E-Hybrid comes standard with a leather-lined cabin that features four-zone air conditioning, electrically-adjustable sports seats, a multi-configurable, part-digital instrument cluster and a 12-inch colour multimedia system with sat nav, Bluetooth, wifi and optional smartphone mirroring for Apple devices. It's visually identified by its flourescent green brake callipers and other subtle highlights in the same colour on the exterior and within the cabin.
What's under the bonnet?
Here’s where the E-Hybrid gets really interesting. It pairs a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 (which is a different motor to the 3.0-litre version in the entry-level Panamera even though they produce identical outputs of 243kW and 450Nm) with a 100kW/400Nm electric motor that gives it combined maximum outputs of 340kW and 700Nm.
That’s enough to generate V8-like levels of performance, accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 278km/h, all the while offering up to 50km of electric-only driving range, at speeds up to 140km/h, that gives it a claimed combined fuel consumption of just 2.5L/100km.
What's it like to drive?
It’s a multi-dimensional machine that lives up to the promise of the Porsche badge in that it superbly blends luxury and performance in equal measures, but also has the unique ability to appeal to those with a social conscience.
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When left in its default hybrid mode, which automatically uses either the electric motor on its own, both when needed or the petrol engine to re-charge the battery pack, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is smooth, powerful and sublime in any environment.
Switch it over to either Sport or Sport Plus and it fuses both engines together for maximum performance, with plenty of low-rev urgency and stonking mid-range punch that makes it feel plenty quick when you drive it enthusiastically, while producing a sonorous exhaust note as the revs rise.
But you can also cruise along serenely and silently in electric-only mode and not use a drop of petrol at all. During our test drive, we fully re-charged the battery during a highway run from Newcastle to Sydney and then cruised more than 40km from the northern suburbs to the southern beaches without igniting the petrol engine once – and still had a quarter of the battery's capacity left.
As for the rest of the package, the three-stage air suspension also ensures the Panamera is comfortable and quick, ironing out most bumps in the default setting and sitting flat in the bends in the Sport modes.
It does generate a bit more tyre noise than rival limousines, but sets a high-water mark as an engaging sports sedan compared to softer, larger alternatives.
What's it like inside?
The second-generation Panamera looks and feels much more like a luxury car from inside than its predecessor, thanks to a massive overhaul that brings modern technology and a cleaner appearance.
While it still has a large centre console that divides front-seat occupants, the cascade of buttons have been replaced by haptic controls under a glass surface that is classy to look at and are convenient to use.
Similarly, the 12-inch touchscreen in the dash offers far greater functionality and is easy to navigate while the overall design and materials are of a higher quality than before.
As a sports sedan, the Panamera’s cabin isn’t as spacious as a traditional limousine but all occupants are treated to supportive seats with plenty of adjustment in the front and individual controls for air conditioning – and optional heating and ventilation functions – in the rear. The back seats will easily accomodate a pair of adults on long journeys but headroom is a little tighter than other sedans.
With a liftback at the rear, the boot is cavernous and can easily swallow a holiday’s worth of luggage, although the zip-up bag that houses the charging cables takes up some of the useable space.
Is it safe?
The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is not only right up-to-date in terms of powertrain technology, but also has a full suite of modern safety features including adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane keeping and lane changing assistance, semi-autonomous parking and a 360-degree camera.
Would I buy it?
Absolutely. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is the sports sedan that lets you have your cake and eat it too. It’s a real Porsche in every sense – fast, engaging, luxurious and exclusive – and yet is a seamless and convincing stepping stone into the company’s electrified future.
What else should I consider?
Porsche is not Robinson Crusoe as far as plug-in hybrid limousines are concerned, with BMW offering the 740e and Mercedes-Benz having the S350e while Audi will have a petrol-electric version of its next-generation A8 due here later this year. None are as sporty as the Porsche though.
2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Price and Specifications
Price: From $248,500 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol / electric motor
Power: 340kW at 6000rpm (combined)
Torque: 700Nm at 1100-4500rpm (combined)
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 2.5L/100km
sourve : drive.com.au