Presently, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S eHybrid is the most cutting-edge car the German automaker builds.
It’s a machine of firsts, a rolling showcase of Porsche’s latest technologies deployed in their top form and a bridge between conventional combustion-powered performance motoring, and a future where (maybe?) all vehicles are electric.
In no uncertain terms, the Panamera Turbo S eHybrid is Porsche’s most high-tech display of advanced performance firepower and notably, it marks the first time that a hybrid has been the highest-performing version of a mainstream Porsche model.
This is the way things are going. One day, some variation of this powerplant technology will likely be the standard almost everywhere.
Under the hood, a four-litre, twin-turbo V8 makes 550 horsepower. To that, an electric motor and 14-kilowatt battery are added, for a total system output of 680 horsepower, backed by nearly 600 pounds of torque.
Absolutely enormous numbers and they enable 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds. That’s as fast as the racy 911 GT3, from a big sedan with air-conditioned seats and a generous trunk.
It’s also enough to place this electrified Panamera firmly amongst the world’s fastest sedans.
With the electric motor filling in for the brief period where the gasoline engine’s turbochargers aren’t quite up to speed yet, the acceleration is absolutely, absurdly instant. No waiting. No lag. No build-up to maximum thrust.
Stuff the pedal to the carpet, and the force imparted on your body (by my best guess) is in the same ballpark as being hit by a speeding bus. Some drivers will wish for more sound from under the hood, and there’s a charming disconnect between the lung-squishing forward thrust and very small amount of noise imparted during its creation.
That manic performance is fully backed up by all other elements of the dynamic spectrum. Giant carbon ceramic brakes are a great match for the incredible acceleration ditching speed fast when called upon.
Gooey 21-inch tires work with a carefully-honed suspension to provide fuss-free grip, even when you’re driving the pants off of it.
The steering is nicely weighted and dialled in against the entirety of the package. It’s fully balanced, and nothing overwhelms anything else.
It’s big and heavy machine though and the handling and balance is less impressive on its own and more impressive given the size of this machine.
You marvel that they’ve made something this big move the way it does and however driven, you never feel like you’ll be able to push it out of a great big comfort zone.
Even during the sort of cornering g-forces that set off alarms in your brain, the tires don’t make a peep. But the speed and grip and rabid thrust are only part of the package. Set the drive-mode selector to E (Electric), and you’re clear for a few dozen kilometres of driving, using no fuel.
If your daily commute is less than the EV range, and you always leave the car plugged in, you could, feasibly, never use gasoline.
H is for hybrid mode, where a constantly-optimized blend of gasoline power and electricity moves the car along, like a regular plug-in hybrid.
Here, fuel is sipped not chugged, the ride is luxury sedan comfortable and quiet, you never hear a thing from under the hood, and you’re clear for a long day’s cruising without a stop to refuel (or recharge).
And recharging is optional: You never “need” to plug this car in, but the more you do, the more fuel you’ll save.
Further, “sport” and “sport+” modes dial up the high-performance stuff, mentioned above. Finally, a little button centred by the drive-mode dial engages the “sport response” mode.
This operates on a countdown timer, and is the proverbial ‘push-to-pass’ button: click it, and in a nanosecond, all systems are ramped up for immediate access to maximum acceleration.
The transmission even downshifts to the lowest feasible gear so quickly you’d think it saw your finger heading for the button.
It’s all enjoyed from a distinctive cabin with space to spare for four, and luxurious touches all conveyed with plenty of high-tech, ultra-modern flair. This cabin, just like the powertrain, is out of this world.
It proudly flaunts its tech and posh with equal strength, and makes drivers feel like they’re on board the USS Enterprise — appropriate, since being rocketed to warp speed is always a throttle-poke away.
Don’t miss the gloss-black touch-pads, the gorgeous instrumentation, or the numerous additional displays and lights that help you keep track of what the hybrid system is up to.
The Turbo S eHybrid does the comfortable cruiser thing so well that you could be forgiven for avoiding frequent use of the license-threatening thrust.
Driven gently, it’s as relaxing as any of the world’s foremost luxury flagship cars, uses fuel very slowly, and lets you sit back, unwind and relax.
And you smile smugly knowing the better part of 700 horsepower is at your perpetual disposal, if you need it.
Did I mention my test average landed at 8.8L/100km? I’ve literally put more fuel through a Honda Accord.
Pricing? Porsche’s most cutting-edge car starts a little north of $200,000, with my tester clocking in at about $230,000.
Be sure to play the Encore on your 6-49 this weekend.
- Model: 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S eHybrid
- Engine: 4-litre V8, twin turbo, hybrid, 680 horsepower
- Drivetrain: AWD
- Transmission: 8-speed PDK dual-clutch
- Features: BOSE audio, navigation, power memory seats, climate controlled seats, full driver computer, adaptive LED headlights, power tailgate
- What’s hot: Incredibly fast, incredibly easy on fuel, knockout cabin, comfortable ride in spite of remarkable handling, luxurious room for four
- What’s not: Very expensive, styling not for everyone
- Price as tested (Panamera Turbo S eHybrid): $230,000