2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid
Porsche proves performance and fuel economy is possible
Is it possible for one of the world’s most glamorous purveyors of high performance sport cars to produce a luxury grand tourer than can be fast, yet also fuel miserly? Is it like asking Porsche to make cars that perhaps could go just “a tad little slower?” Or asking Gordon Ramsey to work his magic on the menu at McDonald’s?
Well, the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid delivers all this and more, and is indeed the answer to slightly ease the thoughts of precious fuel being wasted. Porsche’s big, luxurious four-door sedan uses a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine with an electric motor and can run on the gasoline engine, the battery, or a combination of both. It still uses an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission for transferring power.
To recap the four-door Panamera arrives as the base Panamera, while the Panamera 4 has a 3.6-litre V6. Additionally, the Panamera S and Panamera 4S offer a 4.8-litre V8 and Panamera Turbo and Turbo S up the ante with a twin-turbocharged 4.8-litre V8. True gear heads will opt for either the Turbo making 500 horsepower or the full-on Turbo S with 550 horsepower, thanks to faster-responding turbochargers and unique engine management. The 4, 4S and Turbo are all-wheel drive. All use a PDK (Porsche Doppel-Kupplunggetriebe) double-clutch transmission. An auto start-stop function shuts off the engine at idle for improved fuel economy. The Panamera S Hybrid adds adaptive air suspension; Servotronic variable-assist power steering, rear wiper, and hybrid drive display.
Our splendid Crystal Green metallic 2012 Panamera tester had a base price of $108,700 and was lavishly equipped as standard with all the comforts you could wish for, but still came with an option list which included: black leather interior ($4,170); rearview camera delayed function; 20-inch 911 turbo design wheels ($3,860); front and rear park assist with rear camera ($1,440); Sport Chrono package plus ($1,100); BOSE surround sound system; and Birch Anthracite interior trim package. Total price with options $127,395 plus taxes and destination.
Remember it is a Porsche, so the Panamera’s interior is just wonderfully detailed and with its full size, four doors, you can squeeze the family or some pals in. Everything in the interior is of simply fantastic quality, fit and finish and draped in leather, aluminum and wood trim. All four seats are also superbly sculpted to your body – firm yet comfortable – both front and rear. Rear passengers are equally cosseted with their own HVAC heater controls and offer lots of room to stretch out.
Now to the meat, the fuel economy figures for the hybrid ring in officially at a stunning 8.6 L/100km city and 6.8 L/100km on the highway…on par with many fuel-efficient mid-size V6 sedans from mass automakers. And don’t think speed and acceleration are comprised either, as the big sleek Grand Truisms 270 km/hour top speed and 6.0-second 0-100 km/hour dash are still trademark Porsche numbers.
The V6 gas engine is rated at a healthy 333 hp, the electric motor at 47 hp and the combined output is still an eye-watering 380 hp with 427 lb-ft of torque. And the Panamera Hybrid operates as a “parallel hybrid” – meaning it can run on gas alone, electric power or some combination of both. Sophisticated computers and sensors also allow the twin power sources to be switched off and on in “coasting” or “sailing” mode to further maximize fuel economy.
You can also drive a couple of kilometers on batteries alone. Real Eco zealots can use the E-Power button to optimize their “green” driving. In bumper-to-bumper traffic you can run mostly on battery power. However, drive the hybrid hard and you are still rewarded with adrenalin induced stupor typically experienced by lucky Porsche owners. Stab the throttle and the big sedan just thrusts forward with an urgent whoosh. There is no howling V8, but more of a smoother turbine like rush.
Use the eight-speed Tiptronic transmissions manual paddles and you can gain delightfully tactile up and downshifts. The 7th and 8th gear basically become overdrive gears and promote smooth transitions. Handling, steering and traction are all superb with the heavy, solid feel so beloved and unique. The big sedan also stops on a dime thanks to the amazing brakes.
The fuel economy figures are an incredible feat for Porsche even if they are not important to someone who can afford to spend almost $130,000 for a hybrid car. However what is commendable is that Porsche, despite offering performance cars few can afford, is being both socially and environmentally aware in its policy.
Porsche may have gone green, but have done it with topical Teutonic style and efficiency with no compromise. This new hybrid is a simply breathtaking, guilt-free car to drive and own.
2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid
Base Price – $110,000