he latest generation Porsche Panamera, as Mark has written about on page 1, is a far cry from the vehicle it replaces, now featuring more congruent design lines and a more agreeable rear-end design.
I won’t be dwelling much on that, instead discussing my driving spell behind the wheel of the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, which was had its international launch this week in Cape Town.
It comes with a newly developed 2.9-litre V6 biturbo engine that generates 243kW and 450Nm. This is then augmented by an electric motor that produces 100kW and 400Nm, which is located under the boot floor. Its energy density has increased from the previous model’s 9.4 to 14.1kWh but it still weighs the same. The combined system output is a healthy 340kW and a sizeable 700Nm, with power transmitted to all four corners through the new eight-speed PDK dual clutch transmission.
Performance is quite brisk with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.6-seconds and a top speed of 278km/h.
It has regenerative braking as standard, which recoups braking energy to charge the battery, while charging the liquid-cooled lithium ion battery takes 5.8 hours through the conventional residential mains. An optional wall box with 7.2kW slashes that figure to 3.6 hours.
Being a hybrid, it is an ideal travel companion in the urban environment where it is possible to travel a maximum of 50km on electric power only. Interestingly, instead of a silent electric mode, the engineers have engineered a proper-sounding V6 engine note that, dare I say it, sounds better than the actual engine itself when it kicks into life.
The transition between the two power sources, however, is not that seamless with the combustion engine firing up in a rather shuddering manner that is somewhat at odds with the smoothness of the reverse process.
Depending on one’s driving preferences, the latest Panamera 4 hybrid’s system is similar to those of other manufacturers such as BMW and Volvo that we have sampled in recent times in that they offer the driver multiple modes. These include E-Power mode, which is the default pure electric mode when you switch-on the vehicle. Hybrid Auto mode automatically switches between the two power sources depending on the driving conditions.
E-Hold mode gives the driver the option to conserve the current state of charge by running the vehicle on combustion engine only until the driver switches back to electric mode.
Finally there is E-Charge mode, which utilises the rapid charge of the batteries via the combustion engine that generates slightly more power than is required for driving. It is a rather clever system that lends the driver more freedom to choose what mode they require of the hybrid setup.
Then there are the Sport and Sport Plus modes, which combine the system output to offer maximum performance at all times. The latter, in particular, also generates maximum charge for the battery through the combustion engine.
Claimed fuel consumption is pegged at 2.5l/100km, while carbon emissions are 56g/km. In real world terms, you can expect fuel consumption figures in the 8l to 9l/100km range, more than acceptable for a car of this size and performance.
Speaking of performance, the model is effortless in this regard, delivering power in a deceptive manner, thanks to the dual power sources that require little throttle input from the driver.
Local pricing and introduction date have not yet been finalised, but we can expect it to be priced between the 4S at R1.564m and the current flagship Turbo at R2.441m. – Lerato Matebese