What is it?
An electrically-assisted version of the Panamera, being sampled on UK roads for the first time. The mpg-boosting powertrain might seem to overlap the mission of the recently launched Panamera Diesel, but the Hybrid is being aimed at a very different bit of the market, not least because it’s over £20,000 more expensive.
The Panamera uses a rear-drive version of the same powertrain that’s fitted to the existing Cayenne Hybrid, meaning an Audi-derived 328bhp 3-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine augmented by a 34kW (46bhp) electric motor that sits between it and the eight-speed automatic gearbox that drives the rear wheels.
The engine and the motor can power the car either separately or together, delivering a claimed 6.0-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 167mph. The Panamera is definitely a battery-assisted petrol car rather than a rival for ‘range extended’ electric cars like the Fisker Karma – the battery that sits under the boot floor has a relatively meagre 1.7kW/h capacity, and the maximum distance the Panamera can travel in its pure electric ‘E Power’ mode is approximately 1.25 miles, at speeds below 53mph.
What’s it like to drive?
Impressive – this is another ‘eco’ variant that doesn’t require the driver to make any noticeable sacrifices, with petrol and electric power blending seamlessly for everything from gentle wafting to full-bore acceleration. The eight-speed gearbox is programmed to shift up early to maximise economy, but its brain is quick enough to supply rapid, well-chosen kickdowns when you need to make quicker progress. Another neat feature is the powertrain’s ability to freewheel when the throttle is lifted – the engine is disengaged and shuts down – helping to save more fuel.
As befits its green tint, the Hybrid is definitely on the softer side of the broad Panamera dynamic envelope, with the lighter, lower-geared steering of the two-wheel drive versions and a compliant ride. It’s a very accomplished cruiser, with the cabin staying whisper quiet at a rapid UK motorway cruise. Only hard acceleration will produce much of an engine note, though. Regenerative braking is combined with the efforts of the conventional hydraulic system to help recharge the battery.
How does it compare?
The Panamera Hybrid can’t match the official mpg figures of its Diesel sister – with 41.5mpg versus 44.8mpg – but it’s considerably quicker. On paper the closest match is probably the new Fisker Karma, although the Hybrid’s 159g/km of CO2 emissions can’t get close to those being claimed for the all-electric Karma.
Anything else I need to know?
We managed 35mpg in mixed real world use – not as good as the official figures, but still impressive for something wearing a Porsche badge.