Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 3.0L V6 / 34kW motor
Power:
380 HP / 428 lb-ft comb.
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
5.7 sec
Top Speed:
168 mph
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,365 lbs.
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
40.7 cu-ft
MPG:
N/A
Green Speed


2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

I had been anticipating the pre-dawn run to the airport for a few days. Having spent the week with a Porsche Panamera Turbo, complete with the torque-boosting Sport Chrono pack (yes, that one), the blast to SFO was a fitting sendoff. It was also perfectly timed.

I was boarding a marathon flight to Austria for the global launch of the Panamera S Hybrid, and after seven days with the Turbo, I was smitten. And concerned.

While the 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque from the boosted V8 proved the old adage about absolute power corrupting absolutely, it was the completeness of the Panamera package that left me slack-jawed. When the Stuttgart brain-trust puts its mind to something, they do it right. Look no further than half a century of rear-engined evolution and the much-maligned, but incredibly capable Cayenne. Now add the Panamera to that list. Its sheetmetal might not suit your tastes, but Porsche managed to create the best driving luxury sedan on the market. But a hybrid? They'd better not screw this up.

Porsche is calling this the world's fastest production hybrid and the most economical Porker of all time. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph, Porsche nailed the numbers for quick and fast. But with a starting price of $95,000, the "economical" claim is tough to swallow.

However, based purely on fuel consumption, Porsche's PR people have a point. The automaker pegs consumption at 6.8 liters/100 km on the Euro cycle (down from 10.3 for the S' 4.8-liter V8). U.S. EPA figures haven't been released yet, but figuring the Cayenne Hybrid – equipped with the same drivetrain and coming in some 600 pounds heavier – manages 20/24 mpg, a combined figure in the high 20s should be easily within reach.

2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid side view2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid front view2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid rear view

So what about that drivetrain? It's a variation of the setup fitted to the aforementioned Cayenne and its Volkswagen sibling, the Touareg Hybrid. It starts with VAG's supercharged 3.0-liter V6, outputting the same 333 horsepower you'd get in the Audi S4. Sandwiched between the V6 and the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission is a 34kW (47-hp) electric motor that brings overall output up to 380 hp and makes this Panamera the world's first full parallel hybrid luxury sedan. The engine alone produces 325 lb-ft, but with the 221 lb-ft of torque created by the electric motor, maximum twist comes in at a claimed 428 lb-ft. The torque curves of the engine and motor meld seamlessly, with peak torque from the electric motor beginning at 1,150 rpm and bleeding off just as the ICE's supercharged torque kicks in to provide uninterrupted shove from 3,300 to 5,250 revs (redline stands at just over 6,500 rpm).

The combined effect is instant-on passing power at the drop of the throttle; not nearly as much horizon-come-hither thrust as the Turbo, but noticeably more than the V8-powered Panamera S, with it's comparatively paltry 369 lb-ft.

2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid engine

So yes, it's quick. And yes, it's smooth. And the eight-speed transmission is quicker and more refined than nearly anything else out of Germany or Japan. But to win on the technology and fuel economy front, the Panamera S Hybrid has to do more than just be another quick Porsche. And that's where it succeeds and surprises.

As you'd expect from any modern hybrid, the Panamera allows you to motor along under electric power as soon as you twist the key. Porsche claims you can hit speeds up to 52.8 mph in "favorable driving conditions" without ever tapping into the V6. However, even the lightest feather-foot would be lucky to max out at 15 or 20 mph before the internal combustion engine kicks in to provide additional motivation.

2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid E-Power gauge2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid E-Power button

Try as we might, we could never get over 25 mph without having the V6 turn over, even after pressing the E-Power button to modify the throttle mapping, and we suspect that even in the mythical ideal conditions, the average driver will never get past 30 mph without gasoline assistance. But what's more impressive is the Panamera's engine shut-off at "sailing speeds." By easing off the throttle – up to a maximum of 103 mph – the V6 shuts down and the tach drops into the "Ready" mode. The transition is utterly and completely seamless (we could barely hear the engine at part throttle to begin with), and there's nary an ounce of lag or drivetrain shutter as the V6 restarts. It's easily the most fluid, refined changeover we've experienced in a gasoline-electric vehicle.

The cost of all this tech – beyond the $5,000 premium over the V8 S, marginally mitigated by additional standard features, including adaptive air suspension – is weight. The air-cooled, 288-volt nickel-metal hydride battery mounted low in the trunk only weighs in at 160 pounds, and marginally reduces trunk capacity by 110 liters, but overall weight is up over the S by nearly 400 pounds. Despite this, and thanks to an admirable 51:49 weight distribution in the only drivetrain configuration available (rear-wheel drive), the Hybrid drives as well as its conventionally powered siblings.

2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid rear 3/4 view2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid badge2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid interior2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid rear cargo area

The electrically-assisted, speed-sensitive steering takes the prize for directness and communication, while the brakes, which come on abruptly during the first 1/4 inch of travel, smooth out to provide linear, fade-free deceleration with the slightest hint of regen. Eighteen-inch wheels with 245/50 R18 rubber in front and 275/45 R18 rollers in the rear come as standard, but the 19-inch wheels on our tester (equipped with 255/45 R19 front, 285/40 R19 rear Pilot Sport A/S Plus tires) still looked undersized when nestled into the cavernous wheel arches. And we'll be the first to admit that the "hybrid" badging on the doors looks as ostentatious as the tacked-on afterthought they are (10 minutes with a hair dryer and some dental floss should rectify that).

While cost-conscious Europeans might be more inclined to opt for the forthcoming diesel Panamera, the Hybrid S has a sort of twisted, techie appeal that we can't seem to get over. It might be slightly compromised over its V6 and V8 brethren, but the overall demeanor and driving experience comes through as pure Porsche: highly involved, remarkably well executed and drawing a bead on evolving the hybrid equation into more than just a lackluster, fuel-sipping conveyance for the environmentally conscious. It's not just a worthwhile addition to the Panamera family, it's a legitimate alternative for V8-averse luxury buyers. And knowing Porsche, it's obvious I shouldn't have worried.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      artandcolour2010
      • 3 Years Ago
      glad to hear it drives well and gets halfway decent gas mileage. I don't understand how anyone could consider a tiny 5-inch chrome logo nestled under a body contour line on the front door "ostentatious" though. I'd say the 5-meter long, electric blue, $100,000+, 4-door supercar, is the ostentatious part.
      EHM613
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lexus GS450h. I believe a couple ticks quicker 0-60.
        QAZZY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EHM613
        .3 seconds, but personally I find it uglier than the Panamera (and doesn't make Lexus as much money as the Panamera makes Porsche).
      Hammer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm guessing it's just the angle of the shot that makes it look like the right brake light is out (?). If not... let's here it for Porsche Kwality Kontrol.
        Hammer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hammer
        http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2011/05/07-2012-porsche-panamera-s-hybrid.jpg
        Hammer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hammer
        corr: "...let's hear..."
      Nudle
      • 3 Years Ago
      To my eyes, the Panamera looks civilized. In contrast the Maseratis' look indistinct and easily mistaken for the bastard child of Nissan and Jaguar. But the most important fact about a hybrid's contribution to luxury motoring is the silent running. I've ridden in the Nissan Leaf and the silence makes that economy car feel rich. To obtain that level of privacy around town in a sports car is true luxury. For this reason I am disappointed that the Panamera hybrid cannot run silent above 25mph.
      Erik Tomlinson
      • 3 Years Ago
      You shouldn't have to hair dryer/dental floss the "hybrid" badge off... Porsche lets you remove them on the order sheet at no cost on all their other vehicles, so I'm pretty sure they'd do it on this one.
        Michael Harley
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Erik Tomlinson
        It's simply more fun to take it off at home. That way, you can slap it on the trunk of your wife's Hummer. - Mike
      Alphonso Carioti
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not a true Porsche any longer.
        artandcolour2010
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Alphonso Carioti
        people have been saying this about every new Porsche since the 914 took over for the 912. they said it about the 924. they said it about the 928. they said it about the Cayenne. I think people have to expand their concept of what makes a Porsche a Porsche, and if you read this article carefully, it seems to be Porsche through and through.
        jessesrq
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Alphonso Carioti
        No, wait, acarioti is right. It is not a true Porsche. True Porsche models net industry leading profit margins. Considering the low $5,000 premium vs. the R&D that went into this spectacular powertrain, surely Porsche will take a loss on the hybrid. And I applaud them for it.
          montoym
          • 3 Years Ago
          @jessesrq
          The $5k premium isn't low. It's $5k over the cost of the V8 version, which is already $15,400 over the cost of the V6 Panamera, but you still get a V6 and not as much performance either(0-60 is closer to the V6 than the V8). You do get better mileage though, I'll give you that. Paying $20k over the price of the V6 Panamera to get slightly better mileage and a bit more performance seems like the wrong way to do it. it's certainly pretty hard to justify. Now, don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, performance and economy hand-in-hand, brilliant! But, I'm not at all under the impression that the price premium is at all low.
      tantareanujellob
      • 3 Years Ago
      "and makes this Panamera the world's first full parallel hybrid luxury sedan. " Obviously you've never heard of a Lexus hybrid.
      Peter T
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't care what anyone says, I think the Panamera is beautiful.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Peter T
        [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Synthono
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it weird that people are rushing to defend the looks of this car now. Is it just because it's a Porsche? Because it still has funky proportions that somehow make a gigantic luxury car look tall and short. It's still got that incredibly awkward roofline. It hasn't gotten attractive since it was unveiled. The driver's seat might be a great place to be, and it might be parked beside some handsome sports cars on the dealer's lot, but it's an ugly car.
      QAZZY
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes, the rear is ugly, but the front isn't bad, and the powertrain is great (I sampled the 3.0TSFI in my dad's new S4), with no compromises between power and efficiency (throw more money at the problem actually did solve it). This is the ultimate hybrid luxury sedan, just look at the competitors: -Lexus LS600h/450h: dull, less powerful -BMW 7-series/X6 Hybrid: heavy, ugly (front AND back this time), twin-turbo V8 isn't good for mileage -Mercedes S400/ML400 Hybrid: less powerful With the Cayenne and the Panamera, Porsche beats all the competitors. Granted, the Panamera's rear is controversial, and these cars causes Porsche's 'brand dilution', but they are volume sellers, and they're great.
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