2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Review: The Future Is Awesome
– Victoria, Canada
Like it or not, electrification is the way of the future. But it’s not just about soul-sucking hybrids like the Toyota Prius, or EVs that can only go so far. Several automakers are using electricity to offer supplemental power, making fast cars even faster. Drool-worthy supercars like the Acura NSX, LaFerrari, and McLaren P1 all use electric assist, not to mention Porsche’s own 918 Spyder. In fact, the hybrid tech found in the 918 is what brings me to the car you see here, the incredibly powerful Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.
For the first time, Porsche is positioning a hybrid model as the flagship of its range; no other Panamera bests the Turbo S E-Hybrid in terms of power, or price. With 680 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, this certainly isn’t your traditional hybrid car. But if this is what Porsche’s vision of the electrified future looks like, then I, for one, welcome our new hybrid overlords.
Wait, how much power? Batteries on their own are only good for so much juice. And while most automakers combine this electric power with a small, efficient engine, Porsche goes the other route. On its own, the biturbo 4.0-liter V8 – the one from the Panamera Turbo – makes 550 hp and 567 lb-ft. To that, Porsche adds a 14.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, and a motor good for 136 hp and 295 lb-ft. So yes, this is a hybrid with Hellcat levels of output, able to sprint to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 192 mph. Screw your Prius, this is electric thrust I can get behind.
Best of both worlds. The Turbo S E-Hybrid isn’t an always-on monster. Dial the drive setting to E-Power and you can run on only electricity for up to 31 miles. Leave it in the default Hybrid setting, and the engine will mix turbo-gas power and EV thrust as needed, smoothly and effortlessly. Or to hell with it all, click over to Sport Plus mode and have max power available at all times. Mash the throttle and this thing is a rocket: it’s not just the initial acceleration that’s impressive, the 50-80-mph run is suck-you-into-the-seat quick.
Drives like a Porsche. If you’ve read my recent reviews of the Turbo hatchback and Sport Turismo, you know I love the way the Panamera goes about its business. None of that is lost in the Turbo S E-Hybrid, with great steering, oodles of oomph, and wonderful balance, even in this heaviest (5,093-pound) example of the Panamera. After a long drive on both road and track, it’s clear the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a true performer. It grips for days, roars like the non-hybrid Turbo, and goes like hell.
Comes with everything. Granted, it ought to, considering the $184,400 starting price. But it’s nice to see Porsche treating its flagship Panamera as such. Porsche, the king of à-la-carte options, throws everything at the Turbo S E-Hybrid: carbon ceramic brakes, rear-axle steering, the Sport Chrono kit, 21-inch wheels, full leather interior, upgraded sound system, and more are all standard. You won’t have to pore over the options list to get a nicely equipped example of this Panamera.
Weird brakes. This is the one issue I have with the driving experience. In all driving modes, there’s a weird mushiness to the brake pedal with soft initial bite, like you have to push through a sponge to get to the meat of the carbon ceramic stopping power. It’s largely because of the regenerative braking, I know, but it’s a noticeable demerit in an otherwise brilliantly driving machine.
Choose your paint wisely. This is a nitpick, but one worth mentioning: those neon green accents come on every Turbo S E-Hybrid, regardless of exterior color. That’s fine if you get white, black, or bright blue like you see here. But on a beige-ish color – like this “Chalk” hue – those colors can really clash.
Who’s it for? I understand a lot of people will buy this car simply because it’s the best, the range-topping Panamera. But honestly, good as it is to drive, I’d rather just have the Turbo most of the time. It’s barely slower, offers all the same performance and luxury amenities, and is so, so, so good to drive. Even if you like the idea of a hybrid, try the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, which mates the same battery and motor to a 2.9-liter biturbo V6. It’s still a ton of fun, with 462 total horsepower, and it’s eighty-five thousand dollars cheaper. Plus, you can get the Turbo and 4 E-Hybrid in ultra-cool Sport Turismo guise. For now, anyway, the Turbo S E-Hybrid can’t be had as a wagon.