A real-world fuel saver in a performance wrapping
You might think the same comments I applied to the Range Rover Hybrid on the previous page could apply to the new Porsche Panamera Hybrid, to wit that slapping a ‘hybrid’ badge on the side of a car like this will fool no-one into believing you care about your planet and that there is a far better and cheaper alternative elsewhere in the range. Not so.
The Range Rover and Panamera hybrids cannot profitably be compared for three reasons, none of which is the fact that one’s a hulking great SUV and the lower a low-slung executive express. First, the Porsche hybrid system is wildly more sophisticated than that of the Range Rover. Its electric motor produces twice the power and allows you to charge the batteries from the mains and complete up to 22 miles on electricity alone: the Range Rover will be lucky to do one. This means that for most customers who have the ability to charge at home and work, most journeys can be electric only, which really would make a significant saving. They’ll also pay nothing for their tax disc or London congestion charge.
Secondly, there is no V8 diesel Panamera to tempt you out of your hybrid. Porsche has a V8 diesel and it turns the Cayenne diesel into a 376bhp missile, but because it was designed by Audi it doesn’t fit beneath the Panamera’s low-line bonnet. Finally, this hybrid is based on a petrol engine, not a diesel like that in the Range Rover.
The car’s not perfect but it is effective. Importantly there’s no duplication with any other car in the range, its 333bhp filling a hole between the base V6 diesel and petrol models and the faster S, GTS and Turbo Panameras. It’s also as easy to operate as any other Panamera and gives the option not only to run only on electric power, but also to run on petrol power alone. Why would you do that? Because when urban areas become emissions-free zones, you’re going to want to arrive at the city limits with fully charged batteries.
I’ll say now that driving a Porsche powered by electricity is a strange experience and that the Audi-sourced supercharged 3-litre V6 is one of the coarser engines Porsche has used, so you’ll always notice it cutting in and out. Even so I can see that for a certain perhaps small constituency of people in the UK (as well as the many thousands in the US and China for whom this car was really built), it could just fit better than anything else this kind of money can currently buy. As the only sporting luxury plug-in hybrid currently on sale, it occupies a unique market position and carries the role with confidence.
Engine: 3.0 litres, six cylinders, supercharged, 97bhp electric motor
Power: 333bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 324lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 167mph