Mean and green speed machine
On a recent trip to the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit in Canada we arrived to towering trees, blue skies, and over a dozen protesters gathered outside the entrance. “Shame on Porsche!” one sign read. Whoa, what’s going on here? Are they shaming the new 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid we were eagerly hoping to drive that day?
It turns out the disgruntled group were local residents who’ve been complaining about excessive noise coming from the track ever since it opened last year. Porsche doesn’t own the facility, but it was caught in the protesters’ crosshairs for hosting the Panamera drive event there. Hopefully all parties involved can eventually coexist because it’s a fun and challenging circuit that sits at the base of a hill (with lots of elevation changes) in the middle of a scenic forest.
Thankfully the drama at the gate didn’t hamper our time with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. And as its name suggests, there’s a lot going on with this new top dog Panamera variant. In the previous-generation Panamera, the jump from Turbo to Turbo S was achieved by beefier turbochargers and other tweaks to the 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8. Horsepower increased from 520 to 570.
This time around, Porsche is throwing its hybrid expertise into the mix. The meat of the advanced powertrain is the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 from the Panamera Turbo, churning out 542 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. Sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic is an electric motor that adds 134 and 295 lb-ft to the equation. Porsche rates the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid’s total system output at 671 hp and 626 lb-ft.
Read our 2018 Panamera Sport Turismo review HERE.
There’s lots of power and also lots of weight. The large sedan also has to contend with all-wheel-drive hardware, and a 14.1-KWh battery pack in the plug-in hybrid sedan tips the scales at an estimated 5,093 pounds (2,310 kg), about 600 more than the Panamera Turbo. That said, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has a slight power-to-weight ratio advantage at 7.5 hp per pound versus 8.2.
Our time on the track was brief, but very revealing. Acceleration is immense and instantaneous, much like previous high-performance plug-in hybrids we’ve driven including Porsche’s own 918 Spyder. The automaker claims a 0-60-mph time of 3.2 seconds, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it dips below 3 seconds once we test it. Top speed is rated just under the 200-mph (322-km/h) mark at 192 mph (309 km/h). Porsche’s Sport Chrono system comes standard in this model, and it includes the trick, steering-wheel-mounted rotary drive mode switch, which allows you to easily switch from E-Power to Hybrid Auto, Sport, or Sport Plus.
Wisely, much of the available performance tech available on the Panamera is standard in the Turbo S E-Hybrid, including carbon-ceramic brake rotors (16.5-inch diameter front, 16.1-inch rear) and exclusive and massive 10-piston calipers up front (four-piston clampers at the back). It’s a hefty brake system that worked well on the track, scrubbing speed with confidence, while showing little to no signs of fade. Pedal feel was good and solid without the artificial feel common to most hybrids.
And in addition to its standard air suspension is the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport), basically a fancy name for the active electromechanical roll bars that help keep the sedan neutral and relatively flat through the curves. The 16.6-foot sedan feels much smaller while navigating tight corners—the rear-steering (optional in the regular wheelbase, but standard on the long-wheelbase Executive model) and brake-based torque vectoring system are obviously doing their job, but both are imperceptible. Despite its size and heft, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid was satisfying to pilot on the track, at limits most owners will likely never explore.
Perhaps more important is that the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid a supremely comfortable luxury cruiser. In Hybrid Auto mode, the powertrain expertly shifts between the engine and electric motor And environmentally-friendly, too, thanks to the aforementioned E-Power mode providing zero-emissions (and noise), all-electric driving for an estimated 31 miles (50 km) of range. The standard 3.5kW on-board charger replenishes the battery in six hours when plugged into a Level 2 charger. An optional 7.2 kW on-board charger drops that time to 2.4 hours.
Pricing starts at $185,450 USD and can quickly crest $200,000 USD once you click off fancy luxury items and tech like the driver Assistance package ($5,370 USD) and Burmester sound system ($5,940 USD). That said, no other sedan carries the performance, luxury, and green cred in a handsome package quite like the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.