Porsche Panamera S Hybrid
There are two ways to look at hybrid technology. There's the way of efficiency, and the Toyota Prius led the charge there before other brands caught up. Then there's the petrolhead way — torque, lots of it. Guess which way Porsche has picked…
Meet the Panamera S Hybrid, with a total of 580Nm from a combination of a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 and an electric motor the size of a small yacht.
The motor is there for two reasons; mainly it's to give the car extra accelerative punch at the first touch of the throttle, but it has also helped the S Hybrid make a sizeable cut in CO2 emissions. Sizeable is a word that could be used an awful lot around this car. Wheels: a sizeable 20in. Length: a very sizeable 4,970mm. Width, weight, power output - all sizeable. Any model of Panamera is an impact car just for its sheer size, but the S Hybrid adds an extra flourish of technological excellence.
Some people have pigeonholed the Panamera as more a GT than a sports car; something that will sit on a motorway or an autobahn for its entire life. But while there's a (sizeable) grain of truth in that, there's a lot more to the S Hybrid than meets the cruise control.
For trundling through town, it can run solely on the electric motor for about 2km. It might not sound like a lot, but in rush hour city traffic, it is. There's an E-Power setting that tells the car to stick to electric mode as much as possible. While its 47bhp isn't a lot, it pushes out 300Nm from a standstill, enough for slow-speed fuel saving and that's where it really makes a difference.
The S Hybrid has a fantastic throttle response. The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox can be a little slow to kick down at times, but it instantly wants to surge forwards. That's thanks to the supercharger and electric motor, but the end result is a huge, and seemingly endless reserve of power that carries on long after you reach speeds that should be reserved for race tracks.
What's most surprising about the car on the road, though, is its poise, given how heavy it is. The Porsche Active Suspension Management has three modes; Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. The options are mirrored by the gearbox settings, and turning everything up to Sport Plus creates a car that comes together beautifully at speed, proving itself composed, planted and staggeringly capable regardless of what the road throws its way. It's all good behind the wheel then, apart from the ancillary stalks, which feel like they've been lifted straight off a VW. But banish thoughts of that with the benefits of CO2 output of just 159g/km.
The S Hybrid is a terrific car. There's little or nothing it won't do, and do as well or better than almost anything else. It's a fabulous piece of engineering that shows Porsche's dedication to performance at any cost. At a base price of Dh464,000, the cost is large, but it's a lot of car.
Specs & ratings
Model Panamera S Hybrid
Engine 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and electric motor
Transmission Eight-speed Tiptronic RWD
Max power 380bhp @ 5,500rpm
Max torque 580Nm @ 1,000rpm
Top speed 270kph