Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

Adds electrons to help you go with the (green) flow

JOHN CAREY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

HEREíS the plug-in petrolelectric Panamera that Porsche really wanted to build. The S E-Hybrid model introduced in 2013 for the mid-cycle update for the mid-cycle update of the 2009 Panamera Gen I, was a mash-up of components borrowed from other Volkswagen Group brands. The first Panamera Gen II hybrid, on the other hand, is all Porscheís work.

Called 4 E-Hybrid it will arrive in Australia in Q3 this year, around six months after the February 2017 launch of the core Panamera models. It has a Porsche co-developed engine and the companyís new eightspeed dual-clutch transmission.

And the operating strategy of the carís hybrid powertrain draws on expertise earned during development of the 918 Spyder.

The 4 E-Hybridís engine is a 243kW twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6.

Between the engine and the 100kW electric motor in the front end of the double-clutch transmission is another clutch.

With this clutch engaged, both the engine and motor work together.

When itís disengaged, the 4 E-Hybrid becomes an EV.

All-wheel drive remains a constant throughout. In Sport and Sport Plus driving modes, the internal combustion engine runs full time. In Hybrid Auto mode it stops and starts, while in E-Power the Panamera runs electric.

Maximum system outputs Ė with the turbo engine and electric motor working together Ė are 340kW and 700Nm. These are hefty increases over the Panamera 4. Despite its extra 300kg, the 4 E-Hybrid is much quicker.

Porsche claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.6sec, nearly a full second better than the Panamera 4.

Itís especially responsive at low revs, where the hefty boost of the electric motor is obvious.

And E-Power mode is surprisingly strong; the motor delivers 400Nm from zero to 2300rpm.

Keeping up with urban traffic isnít a problem. Top speed in this mode is limited to 140km/h.

The 4 E-Hybrid now and then made a jerky shift and the blended braking system was hard to modulate precisely at low speed, but otherwise this car is pure Panamera Gen II. It feels big, especially in width, but agile. Itís refined, though prone to wind noise around the front windows.

Cargo space is nearly the same, despite the 14kWh Li-ion battery pack beneath its floor that delivers a 50km electric driving range. Only the 4 E-Hybridís bright green brake calipers give the game away.

The 4 E-Hybrid will sell for $242,600, around $40,000 less than the rear-drive S E-Hybrid it effectively replaces. In terms of price it slots neatly between the new Panamera 4 and 4S, though its performance is much closer to the latter than the former. om p blem. e -rky ystem

PLUS & MINUS

Size; cost; wind noise; powertrain refinement needs work Performance; useful electric-only mode; agile (for its size); 911-ish looks

Save it for later

The ability to freely enter zones where internal combustion driving is restricted or banned is one of the main reasons for customers in Europe to choose a plug-in hybrid.

This is why the 4 E-Hybrid has E-Hold and E-Charge modes. Menu selectable when in Hybrid Auto, these let the driver choose to preserve existing battery range or to recharge.

Model Engine Max system power Max system torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid 2894cc V6 (90į), dohc, 24v, twin turbo + electric motor 340kW @ 6000rpm 700Nm @ 1100-4500rpm 8-speed dual-clutch 2170kg 4.6sec (claimed) 2.5L/100km $242,600 Q3