What is it?
It feels like the days of the big, heavy sports saloon are numbered, doesn’t it? Certainly, with the wave of electrification crashing over the motoring industry spawning all manner of battery-powered vehicles with minimal running costs and blistering performance, it doesn’t look like big-engined battle cruisers will be with us for much longer.
But many manufacturers – Porsche being one of them – is using electrification to stretch out the life of its uber-powerful combustion engines. It brings us to this – the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. It’s got a massively powerful engine linked up to an electric motor and batteries which should, in theory, bring the best of both worlds. We’ve been finding out what it’s like.
Of course, the hybrid Panamera isn’t a new invention, but Porsche has recently revamped its hard-hitting five-door to introduce a larger battery than before, which allows it to travel further on electric power alone. The exterior of the car has also been given a mild tweak, while the Sport Turismo model – Porsche’s equivalent of an estate – remains available with the firm’s full range of engines alongside the standard hatchback version.
But one of the greatest challenges facing the Sport Turismo isn’t an external one, rather from Porsche’s own Taycan EV. Recently bolstered with a more practical Cross Turismo model, it could be the car to tempt many people away from the Panamera.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Turbo S E-Hybrid uses a heady mix of petrol and electricity for some seriously impressive performance figures. You’ve got a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine which then mixes with an electric motor for a total output of 689bhp and 870Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-60mph time of just three seconds and a top speed of 196mph. Power is sent to all wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
However, a larger battery means you should get up to 30 miles of electric-only driving at speeds of up to 87mph, while the ability to intelligently mix that with the engine’s power means a claimed economy figure of up to 96.4mpg. CO2 emissions stand between 65-69g/km, depending on which wheel size you opt for.
What’s it like to drive?
The electric power you’re able to take advantage of only adds to the Panamera’s immediate sense of refinement. It practically glides along, dealing with potholes and surface imperfections admirably well. In fact, for much of the time, you forget that there’s a hulking V8 sitting ahead of you, leaving you to revel in the ability to waltz silently and effortlessly around. It’s ideal for around town, in fact.
But give the Panamera a little more room and you’re free to discover just how powerful it is. The twin-turbocharged V8 engine is powerful enough on its own, but when assisted by the electric motor becomes even more impressive. There’s the added zip off the line that you’d expect from an EV, but it merges with the petrol engine in a cleverly indistinguishable way. But even better, this performance is backed by beautifully-judged steering and excellent body control – the latter of which is admirable given the Panamera’s significant bulk.
How does it look?
The sharp roofline which comes via the Panamera’s switch from hatch to estate only serves to make it look even more elegant, but make no mistake – this is a big car. With a huge wheelbase and long overhangs, it’s got a real presence out on the road, though this does mean that parking or slower manoeuvres do take a little more thought than in other cars.
To our eyes at least, the Sport Turismo is the version to go for in terms of looks. Large, fast estate cars always have the appeal of being able to deliver both practicality and performance, and that is certainly the case with this Porsche.
What’s it like inside?
The cabin of the Panamera is a pleasant mix of metals, leathers and glass. The seating position – as we’d expect from Porsche – is excellent, with good levels of adjustability, while the seats themselves are supportive and comfortable. The steering wheel itself also bucks the trend for having an overly thick rim and instead adopts a much thinner design – it’s great to use as a result.
Space in the back is good too, with plenty of legroom available to those sitting there. The Sport Turismo’s boot space, however, has taken a real hit as a result of the hybrid powertrain; seats-up space falls from 515 litres to 418 litres, while folding them down brings 1,287 litres instead of the regular car’s 1,384 litres. It’s a noticeable fall in capacity and does mean that the E-Hybrid will struggle to fit larger items – something you wouldn’t expect from such a large car.
What’s the spec like?
Rocking up with a £142,280 price tag means you expect a good degree of standard equipment and, thankfully, the Panamera delivers in this respect. You get front and rear heated seats, LED main headlights and parking assistance with a reversing camera. Inside, there’s Porsche’s excellent infotainment system which is displayed via an ultra-wide screen and provides access to all major navigation and media functions. It’s also got Apple CarPlay and is one of the most successful operators of this system as you’re still able to access the car’s ‘home’ functions while using it – something other manufacturers struggle to do.
‘Our’ car also featured some choice options including a panoramic sunroof (£1,581), Porsche’s SportDesign exterior styling package (£3,117) and a sports exhaust system with black tailpipes (£2,537). In total, the bill came to £159,742 and, whichever way you cut it, that’s a lot of money.
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a performance car you can use day in, day out. It’s got that heady performance which is then backed by the ability to run on zero-emissions while delivering a decent slug of practicality – even if the regular Panamera trumps it in terms of outright space.
However, as we mentioned earlier, the Sport Turismo’s biggest rival lies within Porsche’s own stable. Sure, this petrol-powered variant might have the legs on the 283-mile range of the Taycan Cross Turismo, but elsewhere it’s not as night and day – the Panamera only trumps the Taycan’s boot space by 87 litres, too. It might be a sign of the times, but we’d be leaning towards the electric car in this instance – if you’re after electrification, then why not go the whole hog, after all?