The car will tailor its hybrid mode based on your route, strategically choosing when to use the gas and/or electric motor for maximum efficiency, which means you don't have to put much thought into battery management. I drove the Panamera about 65 miles to visit my grandmother, and I was down to the last little bit of charge in the 14-kWh battery as I arrived. For that trip, I put it into Hybrid Auto mode and let the car sort out the power on its own. It was quick, comfortable and quiet when I needed it to be.
It's easy to drive in E-power mode. There's a gauge of lights below the tach needle to tell you how close you are to calling upon the gas engine. There's also a really palpable tipping point in the accelerator travel, a click that when you pass it kicks on the gas. It scoots along plenty quick for city driving under electric power, and we were able to do most of our city driving without using any gas. Plus, the car can travel up to 86 miles per hour using just the electric motor.
Still, I'd like to be able to lock out the gas engine completely. I understand — especially in a Porsche — that all the power should be available when called upon, electric or not. It can be useful to get out of a jam, like if a semi moves into your lane. Still, the 136 horsepower available from the electric motor alone is more than enough for anyone who really wanted to avoid using any gas. Brakes — especially the big carbon ceramics on this car — will get you out of a bad situation, as well. If you need a failsafe, there's the Sport Response button (essentially a push-to-pass feature) in the center of the mode dial that puts the car into the most powerful of sport modes for 20 seconds.
The big ceramic brakes are grabby when you step on them hard, and are definitely up to the task of hauling this heavy car back to sane and legal speeds. When trying to use them smoothly, though, so as not to make my wife carsick, I found it hard to get used to stopping without having to work to modulate brake pressure. When I'd slow to a stop, I always found myself going a few feet longer than I'd intended, and having to get deeper into the brake pedal at the end. With just myself in the car, though, this wasn't even a thing I'd think about, and I didn't try to bother with making the world's smoothest stops. Either way, I'm sure I'd get used to chauffeur-like braking in this car after a few more hours of city driving.
On the highway, I found the features in the Premium Plus and Assistance packages — adaptive cruise control, lane change and lane keep assist specifically — to be quite helpful in driving smoothly and calmly. The lane minder got a little confused in heavy rain, though, and steered the vehicle at odd points on a few occasions, so I turned it off. In the dry, it performed beautifully.
For quick jaunts around town, this is a wonderful, efficient EV with up to 31 miles of all-electric range. Not only did I save gas, this vehicle actually has a ton of room for groceries, a car seat, stroller and anything else you'd need a wagon for. I found it remarkably useful. For long highway drives, it's a quick, comfortable performance car that eats up miles in a blissful blur. In any situation, it's also a true head-turner. It's attractive and visibly expensive with bright accents. It'll also make other drivers take notice, whether you're zipping silently away from a stoplight under electric power or letting the exhaust of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 sing it's throaty song in Sport mode. Every moment I spent behind the wheel of this car was fantastic.