In August, I extolled the virtues of the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, and mused about how far Porsche has come as an automaker with addition of that gas-electric powertrain. The Panamera S Hybrid arguably moves the company a step further, combining that fuel-efficient drivetrain with sport-sedan handling.
If you read my November review of the base-model Panamera V6, you know it’s no secret that I like this car. A Porsche that’s almost as fun to hustle as a 911 while adding a comfortable back seat and usable trunk? Yeah, sign me up. The addition of a hybrid powertrain makes the car better in some ways, but diminishes driving pleasure in other ways.
The Panamera hybrid boasts 380 horsepower and 580 lb-ft of torque with both power sources working together at full throttle – significantly more power than the 300 hp/295 lb-ft offered by the Panamera V6. The extra power is obvious, too, as soon as your right foot finds floorboard; acceleration is limited only by traction, which was certainly in short supply during the icy January conditions I tested this car in.
Limited grip isn’t all bad, though. Turn off the traction and stability control systems, and the Panamera’s long wheelbase and rear-wheel drive layout makes it so very easy to drift around slippery corners. This car can be wonderful fun no matter the weather.
The real downside is the hybrid system’s regenerative braking system, which makes the brake pedal feel soft and artificial around town. Slowing and stopping smoothly is difficult; such is the kind of trade-off that must be made for a big luxury car with fuel consumption estimates of 7.6 L/100 km in city driving, and 6.8 L/100 km on the highway. Those figures make this the most fuel-efficient Porsche, period, and about as thrifty as a Toyota Camry. Of course, that comparison is only valid if you can keep your right foot out of this car’s deep well of power. That requires serious self-control; warmer weather would help, too. My tester averaged 12.2 L/100 km – much higher than the car’s ratings, but a solid result for a car with this much performance potential.
Still, that Panamera V6 I tested last year managed 12.7 L/100 km. That’s not a lot more gas for a car that costs a lot less ($104,000 for the V6 model, versus more than $127,000 for the hybrid I tested) and promises plenty of performance in its own right. The Panamera S Hybrid is a great luxury car, but is less satisfying as a pure performance machine than its gasoline-only siblings.