One Porsche Panamera fits all
The previous generation was maligned for its ungainly design. But the new Porsche four-door banishes that concern – and more besides
Except for the faint rustle of wind past the side mirrors and the monotone din produced by the enormous 295mm-wide rear rubber, the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive’s cabin is enveloped by, well … silence. The new 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine and its twin turbos lay dormant. Instead, thrust is provided by the permanently active (Porsche uses the word ‘excited’; the work of Google Translate, perhaps?) 100kW electric motor, fed by a 14kWh lithium-ion battery. It can do so for 50km, the brand claims, before the V6 wakes from its slumber to supplement the electric machine and propel the 2.25 tonne, 5.2m-long E-Hybrid Executive to 100km/h in a mere 4.7 seconds. Not fast enough for you, you glutton? After a further 12.7 seconds, 200km/h flashes by, before the vehicle runs out of puff at 278km/h. This is a hybrid, remember, just like the Toyota Prius; it’s not supposed to be this quick. It certainly doesn’t feel quite so potent from the sumptuous driver’s seat. From silky soft leathers wrapping the horizontal expanse of dashboard, carefully curated wood trim and metal that is actual metal, the second-generation Panamera’s cockpit sets new refinement and quality standards for Porsche.
But it also introduces new tech in the form of Advanced Cockpit, a concept that eschews hard buttons controlling, for example, the climate system in favour of virtual ones that provide tangible feedback when pressed.
It works fabulously. Most striking, however, is the seamless integration of these forward-thinking tools in an environment that places luxury at the forefront, especially in this 150mm longer Executive model with its room for four occupants. So, to the reason people buy cars with alternative powertrains: fuel economy. Porsche claims the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid parsimoniously drinks 2.5 litres every 100km. Impossible, surely? Indeed. On a 100km-plus route in the Western Cape, I struggled to get close to 10 litres per 100km. That’s still mighty impressive considering the sheer girth of the vehicle and the power accessible under foot, but to reap the benefits of the E-Hybrid’s advanced drivetrain, owners will have to stick to the 50km battery range. Do that, however, and you’ll have one of the cleanest-running vehicles in our market, across all segments. More so than the wonderful cockpit, the arresting exterior, soothing ride and hellfire performance, the efficacy of the E-Hybrid’s one-vehicle-for-all-tastes approach is its most remarkable achievement. porsche.com
Credit: Photos: Supplied, Text: Terence Steenkamp