Plug-in hybrid tech gives this Panamera zero-emissions potential for city centres

What is it?

Porsche has tweaked its parallel hybrid drivetrain for this second-generation Panamera E-Hybrid, adding plug-in battery recharging that enables much more credible distances to be covered on electric-only propulsion while maintaining impressive performance.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid is at its most effective when left to its own devices in Hybrid mode to optimise its power sources as required. However, it is possible to choose electric-only mode by pressing the E-Power button on the vast centre console. This is also the default start-up mode and, with a full battery, electric power can transport you up to 22 miles. The EV range varies depending on driving conditions, how many auxiliary systems you’re using and how enthusiastically you’re unleashing the motor’s 95bhp. 

What's it like?

In full-electric mode, the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid can accelerate to 31mph in 6.1sec and reach a top speed of 84mph, making it amply flexible for the kind of stop-start traffic that’s typical in city centres.

Gliding along soundlessly and cocooned within the Panamera’s comfortable cabin, you become fully aware of the noise, pace and bustle of a city’s busy roads. 

When the battery’s power runs low, deploying E-Charge mode calls more heavily on the V6 petrol engine for propulsion and uses the electric motor to generate battery charge, which is stored until you re-engage full EV mode. That’s especially useful on routes that start on a motorway and end in a built-up area.

During the return leg of our test journey along the M4 and back into central London, a display indicated that the part-used battery had been replenished to its maximum within about half an hour of E-Charge driving and that we had a maximum of 16 miles of EV power at our disposal.

Once you’ve escaped from town, another driving mode, Sport, calls on the power from both electric motor and combustion engine to provide 410bhp, 435lb ft and a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.5sec. 

As much fun as it is to feel the warp-speed low-end thrust supplied by the electric motor away from traffic lights, this manner of driving does feel at odds with the Panamera E-Hybrid’s low-emissions creed.

Should I buy one?

Using the E-Hybrid for urban driving comes with its challenges. The plug-in technology brings more of a burden than the first-generation hybrid, bumping the kerb weight to 2095kg, and the vehicle can feel cumbersome in the cut and thrust of heavy traffic.

It can also be difficult to thread the five-metre-long car through tight gaps, a challenge accentuated by the poor visibility out of the rear.

Nevertheless, the Panamera E-Hybrid wins as a luxury car with an impressively broad range of capabilities, something that has only been enhanced by its plug-in tech.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Price £88,967; 0-62mph 5.5sec; Top speed 167mph; Economy 91.1mpg (combined); CO2 71g/km; Kerb weight 2095kg; Engine V6, 2995cc, supercharged, petrol, plus 70kW electric motor; Power 410bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 435lb ft at 1250-4000rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

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MikeSpencer 16 October 2013

Unflattering colour

It would have looked (a bit) better in black or grey. Bright colours photograph well but they are at odds with this car's size and shape.

Will86 16 October 2013

It's Worse Than the Original

When did the back end get uglier? In the photos is reminds me a little of an Allegro. And if the styling is not enough to put you off, the weight should be. I like the idea and convenience of electric power for the city and petrol power for the open road, but the execution seems too complex.

Suzuki QT 16 October 2013

Hmmm ...

I'm certain that Porsche made this variant (as did Mercedes-Benz with their S-Class Hybrid) to demonstrate just how stupid the "London Congestion Charge" is, being based upon CO2 emissions ... You could probably fit three Smart cars (and 6 passengers) into the same space as this behemoth ...