- What’s Best: Top drawer appointments, commendable cargo volume and the ride and performance one expects in a Porsche with the bonus of hybrid plug-in convenience.
- What’s Worst: Bring back the centre console twin rows of secondary control toggle switches.
- What’s Interesting: Who but Porsche would produce a 310 km/h station wagon with added hybrid plug-in efficiency.
MALAGA, Spain: With a top speed of 310 km/h and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.4 seconds, Porsche rightfully says the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is the fastest plug-in electric in the world.
It’s hard to dispute being powered by a combination of a 550 hp 4.0-litre direct injection twin turbo engine and a 136 hp electric motor for a total 680 hp and 626 lb/ft of torque.
The technology comes straight from the awesome LeMans bred 918 Spyder supercar with the motor powered by a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 14.1 kWh and that reaches full charge in 12 hours via a normal 120-volt, 10-amp socket.
If the optional 7.2 kW on-board charger is utilized instead of the standard 3.6 kW unit, the charging time decreases to less than three hours with a 240-volt, 40 amp connection. Charging can also be done using a timer via Porsche Communication Management (PCM) or the Porsche Connect app (for smartphones and Apple Watch).
The E-Hybrid Sport Turismo has all the features of the ground-breaking second generation Panamera such as optional rear-wheel steering and adaptive cruise control.
But what stands out is the adaptive rear roof spoiler that deploys in three stages, based on driving demand, to generate additional downforce on the rear axle.
Called the Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA) system, at speeds of up to 170 km/h the spoiler is not deployed.
Above 170 km/h it moves to the plus one-degree position and exerts downforce.
When in Sport and Sport Plus ride modes above 90 km/h, the spoiler is automatically deployed.
Interestingly, with the panoramic sunroof open at speeds of about 90 km/h, the spoiler moves to the plus 26-degrees position to cut down on wind noise and buffeting.
The list of standard equipment is long and includes Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) including Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Power Steering Plus and the Sport Chrono Package, 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels, auxiliary air-conditioning, adaptive aerodynamic elements and a three-chamber air suspension including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).
As I noted when I drove the non-hybrid Sport Turismo earlier this year in Vancouver, the cabin is all high luxury leather in fancy trim – but it’s primarily set up for the driver.
There’s a big analog tachometre in the centre of the main instrument cluster, now flanked by twin seven-inch LCD displays aided by a bigger 12.3-inch touchscreen at the top of the centre stack.
Gone are the two rows of toggle switches running down each side of the centre console, to be replaced by a blacked-out touchscreen with all the controls as before.
Nice, but I liked the toggles because they added so much to the sense of the driver being in control.
And this is, after all, a station wagon, so cargo is a buyer purchase decision and the E-Hybrid delivers with 425 litres behind the second row seats. With the second 40:20:40 split/fold seats down, volume increases to 1,295 litres second row folded.
This car is so fast it can be deceiving.
Coming back from a morning of testing the new GTS versions of the Boxster and Cayman at the private Circuito Ascari test track near Malaga, Spain, my driver partner and I settled into a drive back to the hotel in an E-Hybrid plug-in.
Discussing the merits of the GTS twins, my co-driver was horrified to note he had been creeping up to almost double the speed limit in Canada and he slowed fast – believe me.
The E-Hybrid plug-in is so smooth and comfortable it can get away from you.
But, it is still a Porsche, and that means it has to perform to the highest standards.
To that end, is Porsche 4D Chassis Control that monitors driving conditions in longitudinal, lateral and vertical acceleration dimensions.
The data is then fed into all the chassis and ride systems, thus creating a fourth dimension for the best feedback to the driver to increase his/her level of comfort or performance.
You can’t really feel it because the systems are so transparent, but you can push it as hard as you want and it never comes near the limits of adhesion and road holding this car delivers.
And, interestingly, on the battery alone, you can cruise at up to 140 km/h.
At the end of our drive back to the hotel, as I also noted when driving the Sport Turismo in Vancouver, we both emerged fully relaxed.
If you have somewhere to go, either across town or across the country, the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo with bonus of being a plug-in is just the station wagon for you.
2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
BODY STYLE: Luxury full-size station wagon
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, permanent all-wheel-drive, eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual clutch transmission
ENGINE: 550 hp 4.0-litre direct injection twin turbo engine and a 136 hp electric motor for a combined 680 hp and 626 lb/ft of torque
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium 93) TBA
CARGO: 425 litres behind the second row seats, 1,295 litres with second row 40:20:40 split/fold seats down
TOW RATING: Not recommended
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