• Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  •   Engine
    SC 3.0L V6 + 70-kW motor
  •   Power
    416 HP / 435 LB-FT
  •   Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  •   0-60 Time
    5.2 Seconds
  •   Top Speed
    167 MPH
  •   Drivetrain
    Rear-Wheel Drive
  •   Engine Placement
    Front
  •   Curb Weight
    4,619 LBS
  •   Seating
    2+2
  •   Cargo
    40.7 CU-FT
  •   MPG
    50 MPGe (combined)
  •   Base Price
    $96,100
  •  
When the Porsche Panamera joined the hybrid poker game with the S Hybrid, it started with a seat at the penny-ante table: engineers inserted a 47-horsepower electric motor between the gas engine and eight-speed automatic, powered by a 1.7-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery. It was tiny stakes, the kind of non-risk taken when you're trying to figure out both how to play the game and how you want to play the game.

After two years of experimenting, the 2015 Panamera S E-Hybrid makes a bigger bet – the kind that requires paper bills and the maxim, "If you can't fold it, hold it." Porsche's plug-in hybrid gets every adjective we expect of a successor from Stuttgart: more complex, more efficient, more powerful and faster.

Driving Notes

  • The electric motor leaps from 47 hp to 95 hp thanks to more windings on the stator coils and new power electronics. The battery goes from a 1.7-kWh nickel-metal hydride unit to 9.4-kWh lithium-ion setup; it's the same physical size as before, still mounted under the cargo deck. Internal combustion still comes from the Audi-sourced, 333-hp, supercharged V6, but total system power goes from 380 hp and 428 pound-feet of torque in the S Hybrid to 416 hp and 435 lb-ft in the S E-Hybrid.
  • The previous system could run a mile on electricity, this one is estimated to last more than 20 miles on e-power on the European cycle. The 0-60 dash takes 5.2 seconds, down from 5.7 seconds; top speed in electric-only mode is 84 mph – up from 50 mph. It takes 2.5 hours at a 240-volt outlet to fully recharge the battery; the Porsche Universal Charger comes equipped with a cable for that and a standard 120-volt socket.
  • Only Panamera obsessives will notice the sheetmetal changes for 2015, but there are sharper lines on the front and rear fascias, faint revisions made to the light clusters, wider glass – over the same-sized opening – on the rear tailgate, and a wider rear spoiler. Outsiders will know the S E-Hybrid because of Acid Green highlights on the fender and tailgate logos, as well as the Acid Green brake calipers.
  • Inside, the central tach remains, but the analog speedometer was evicted to make space for the battery power meter, and Acid Green needles dance across all the gauges. The navigation screen shows your electric driving range and the Porsche Car Connect service provides the expected, smartphone-controlled e-mobility features.
  • Two other notable interior nods to electric power are the carryover E-Power button and the new E-Charge button on the center console. If the battery is more than 20-percent full you can press the E-Power button for all-electric cruising. To refill the battery while driving, press E-Charge and the ICE will both propel the car and send juice to the lithium-ion pack. We were told it takes about 45 minutes at steady-state cruising to charge up from empty, and naturally, fuel economy takes a little hit. The accelerator is fitted with its own electric motor that signals via a detent (or what feels like it, anyway) when you're about to draft the supercharged V6 into duty, making it easy to stay on the eco side. The location of the 'detent' varies throughout pedal travel, depending on driving conditions.
  • The driving experience is everything we like about the Panamera, plus everything we like about electric cars. We drove for miles through Southern California valleys on electricity alone in what we think is one of the nicest cabins in all of automotive-dom, had to check the tachometer to verify the V6 was engaged, and braking was always smooth.
  • The electric system's role is propulsion, not handling, so there are no new tricks in the sedan's conduct... but it's not like the Panamera needs them. As with its all-combustion counterpart, you get docile behavior with a docile right foot. Pressing the Sport button provides athletic benefits that take their lead from your driving style, but activate Sport Plus and it's full-power, full-time for whopping fun when the road wriggles off into the distance.
  • Our only niggle is with the exhaust note, which is soggy. Barely audible when not doing much work, pressed to perform, it sounds like something is blowing bubbles in the shallow waters of a kiddy pool.

But let's face it: the only reason to pay the $96,100 MSRP – a $2,900 premium over the S – is because you insist on a large, executive sports sedan with outstanding handling that is also a hybrid. And if that's what you want, there's nowhere else to go. Which makes it convenient that the Panamera S E-Hybrid is really rather good.

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