A more grown-up Porsche
It’s the quietest Porsche sports car I’ve ever driven, but that doesn’t mean it’s the slowest.
Unplug any thought you may have that hybrid vehicles are painfully slow and uninspiring to drive; the 2012 Panamera S Hybrid will short-circuit that notion.
Hybrid powerplant is electrifying
The gas/electric four-door Porsche is a highly sophisticated machine that won’t let performance enthusiasts down. Heck, it’s capable of 0-100 km/h in 6.0 seconds and 80-120 km/h in just 3.9 seconds. These specs are cited by Porsche, along with a top speed of 270 km/h.
When one considers the size of the Panamera and its four-door architecture, the performance numbers are impressive, especially considering that the core powerplant is a supercharged 3.0L V6 gas engine. Perhaps more impressive is the vehicle’s ability to conserve the black gold in its tank.
The Panamera S Hybrid is rated at 8.6L/100km and 6.8L/100km, city and highway driving respectively. While fuel economy ratings are often artificial and near impossible to achieve by the average driver, such wasn’t my experience with this week’s tester.
Thriftier than expected
So let’s not kid ourselves about ability to pay. Folks buying a $127,395 (as tested) Porsche aren’t likely bereft of funds to fuel it. For them, the motivation to go hybrid may be more altruistic than economic. Regardless of reason, it’s a good thing.
I was quite surprised at how effectively I could maximize the potential of the Panamera’s hybrid technology. After a dose of seat time to get accustomed to the system’s operational characteristics, I learned when to lay off the throttle and allow electrical propulsion to take over. And it wasn’t necessary to slow to a crawl to maintain the spark.
The Panamera S Hybrid can move along at low highway speeds for short durations on purely electric power. The driver can also select E-Power, which aids in the exclusive use of electrical propulsion. I found this a great way to drive cost-free the six or so blocks of side streets that lead to my home.
While my average economy was all over the map due to pushing the hybrid Panamera for performance purposes and alternately babying it for economy testing, I was still capable of matching the posted city consumption rating of 8.6L/100km.
Part of the push in economy belongs to the vehicle’s 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission. The vast selection of gearing enables the Panamera S Hybrid to match the most efficient gear to the immediate needs, whether gentle cruising or full-on track duty.
The track isn’t where one expects a hybrid-powered vehicle to excel, yet I can verify the competency of Porsche’s hybrid in such an octane-doused setting. Its combined output of 380 hp is notable, but what really delivers the goods post apex is the car’s massive 428 lb-ft of combined torque.
A few months back, I wrote this comment following my track day with the Panamera S Hybrid: “I’m sure more than a few drivers were surprised to see the big four-door hybrid sled filling their rear-views”. Yes, there were a lot of exotic machines on Mission Raceway’s road course that day – including an Italian tour de force – yet the electric/gas four-door from Germany more than held its own.
Activating the Panamera’s Sport and Sport Plus modes keeps the gas engine more in the game, ensuring that it constantly contributes to motivation rather than shutting down when it normally would. For everyday driving, though, the gas/electric combo functions fairly seamlessly.
Smooth and enjoyable around town
Allied with its dual power sources, the Panamera S Hybrid exhibits two distinct personalities; one oriented toward power and performance, while the other favours luxury and comfort.
The car rides with a pleasing degree of decorum. The driver can opt to firm up the damping, but there seems to be little reason to do so; the Panamera corners with exceptional accuracy and control without engaging the Sport or Sport Plus modes.
Still, the performance purists will appreciate the ability to alter the big car’s persona at the touch of a button, especially when taking it to the stallions at the track.
One aspect of the Panamera S Hybrid that does require a little more finessing to perfect than with the conventional version is brake function. As with all regenerative brake setups, the Panamera’s can be slightly more difficult to operate smoothly and modulate intuitively.
The 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid is every bit a Porsche despite the absence of a howling Porsche exhaust note. This Stuttgart-derived ride is more grown-up than its pure-octane siblings yet highly capable by every measure, and surprisingly effectual when the yardstick is measuring fuel economy, and by extension, CO2 emissions.
While typical Porsche buyers may not have fuel economy topping their list of priorities, they may feel better adjusted and more socially accountable knowing that their automotive affluence is burning less fossil fuel than the preponderance of vehicles choking our communities.
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