Not your typical hybrid vehicle proposition: Porsche paving the way for future hybrid motoring with the 2014 Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid sedan
A Hybrid System Engineered For Performance
Should you be in the market for a luxury sports sedan, and Porsche is on your list, consider taking the new 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid for a spin. What you will experience is the future of hybrid motoring, and you will quickly understand what makes Porsche special and one of the global leaders in automotive technology. Porsche’s groundbreaking work on the 918 Spyder hybrid supercar has paved the way for a wholesale shift in philosophy for the 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid. Porsche’s hybrid technology is no longer designed to simply conserve energy, but to expend it more efficiently and almost entirely for the sake of performance.
Increased Power and Range
In the Panamera S E-Hybrid you now get a 9.4kWh battery pack (up from 1.7kWh), a 95hp electric motor (up from 45hp), and plug-in charging capabilities. The increase in battery capacity means that the Panamera can travel further at higher speeds. The increased electric motor power means that the Panamera can accelerate faster and attain higher all-electric speeds, and the plug-in charging capability means that you can commute to and from work without ever using the gasoline engine.
The large battery size is at the centre of this new hybrid philosophy. To put the new battery size into context, it is more than five times the size of the prior battery, it is 40% larger than the 918 Spyder’s 6.8kWh battery (which drives two electric motors generating 286hp), and it is twice the size as a Toyota Prius Plug-In battery (4.4kWh). The battery is now large enough to provide sustained heavy use of the hybrid system, which allows for the use of the larger electric motor and makes possible features like E-boost, which delivers the combined output from both the combustion engine and the electric motor, and air conditioning while the vehicle is off.
The plug-in charging capability also plays as an advantage to the new battery size, because with the Porsche Design charging dock installed in your house, you can fill the battery’s enormous capacity in as little as 2.3 hours. Porsche claims 36km of range from all-electric mode, but many people are experiencing upwards of 60km of range in practical use. This is comfortably more range than the average 40km per day that people commute to and from work, and makes the Panamera S E-Hybrid a viable all-electric commuting vehicle.
This Hybrid Plays Tricks On The Mind
On the open road, the Panamera S E-Hybrid experience is somewhat surreal, particularly when you’re cruising at 135km/h in all-electric mode for what seems like an eternity. The sight of the tachometer reading zero revolutions while the outside world flows past you in typical Porsche luxury puts pressure on the mind’s ability to comprehend what’s happening. Your eyes will constantly flick down to the tachometer as a smile broadens across your face.
Within the city, the acceleration in all-electric mode is more than enough to remind people of Porsche’s dominance in traffic. Merging onto a highway will usually require exceeding the throttle pedal’s all-electric travel, in which case the combustion engine cuts in seamlessly to provide more power. Sport mode enables the entire system output of 416hp (E-boost), but this is only really relevant in terms of being able to have physical control over how the vehicle expends its energy. The output is similar to that of the Panamera S, so it is nothing unusual in the world of Porsche.
Another strange sensation is that the Panamera S E-Hybrid doesn’t feel like a hybrid when it’s not driving as a hybrid, which is a result of Porsche sandwiching its electric motor between the engine and the 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. In most hybrids, the traditional geared transmission is replaced by a CVT or e-CVT transmission, which continuously varies the ratio at which the drive shaft is spun. In the Panamera S E-Hybrid, you get a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports car feel with paddle shifts that correspond to physically present gears. The 918 Spyder uses a similar design but with a 7-speed PDK gearbox and an additional independent electric motor mounted to the front axle.
It’s Okay If You’re Not The Fuel Efficient Type
This hybrid does not have to be owned by someone simply looking for gains in fuel efficiency. It is designed for someone looking for a performance-oriented, electric driving experience, with fuel efficiency served as an afterthought. The smooth integration of powerful electric capabilities with combustion power is what makes this Panamera S E-Hybrid so special. It is remarkable to drive, and it offers Porsche-like control over many of the hybrid performance parameters. This is the dark (and fun) side of hybrid motoring.
A Continually Evolving Experiment
You do get the impression, however, that Porsche still has a bit of work to do with the Panamera incarnation of its hybrid system. For instance, the combustion engine is Audi’s 3.0L Supercharged V6 unit, which puts out 333hp. Porsche’s 3.0L Turbocharged V6 puts out 420hp (in the Panamera S). Ideally, Porsche should be able to get its own 3.0L V6 back into the Panamera E-Hybrid, possibly as a Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid model. It would be a true Porsche at heart, and it would have upwards of 520hp, which would improve an already impressive motoring experience.
With a base price of C$110,000, but a very Porsche-like as tested price of C$155,000, this is certainly not your typical hybrid vehicle proposition, and it’s very clearly not meant to be. The 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is designed as a way for the wealthy to experience the sinful pleasures of hybrid abuse through the operation of a tantalizing and sexy high-performance vehicle. You can claim to be environmentally friendly, but you don’t have to drive that way, which is how Porsche has chosen to implement its hybrid philosophy. If on the off chance you do start to feel the vestige of fuel consumption guilt, you can always clean your soul by offering to be the electric vehicle, car pooling neighbour for any one day of the week. Just tell your neighbours that you’ll be leaving the house at 5am so you can enjoy the uncongested commute.