Tech scrambled into a ‘real-world’ car
"Say hello to 680 horsepower of pure ‘Porsche-ness’ and 850 Nm of torque available right from the word GO!"
"Inspired from the Mission E concept car, the full width tinted LED tail lamp unit looks light years ahead of anything seen on today’s super saloons."
"What’s green is now mean."
"This thing is a rocket in straights!" said Ershad.
Power, torque and rush-they all come with big engines. Can’t get enough? Strap on a couple of turbos. Now what if you need more for your steed? Voila: electric power! What’s green is now mean.
The 918 Spyder. Need a hint? Yes, the Porsche supercar with petrol and electric power putting out faster-than-you-can-blink numbers on race charts. Our test car is as close as a real-world car can get to the 918 Spyder and it is the brand new Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Porsche has been giving its car names a lot of extra letters and numbers lately. So let’s decode this one. Yes, it’s the new Panamera, it’s got a turbo, it goes faster than your typical turbo (S) and it’s got electric prowess (E-Hybrid).
First impressions: The new Panamera looks much sleeker and "911-like." Being a hardcore Porsche fanatic, I’d definitely park the new Panamera at a seaside, unfold my camping chair and just enjoy the curves. Of the car, that is!
The new Panamera carries over the familiar silhouette from its previous model but with some freshened elements. The front end loses a bit of bulk thanks to the bigger air dams and intake slats on the front bumper. Headlamp units are now full LED and look similar to the ones on the 918 Spyder. Profile remains mostly unchanged with redesigned rearview mirrors and E-Hybrid lettering with bright green border. Bright green; you can see a lot of it. All badges on the car have a bright green accent on its borders and you have those huge brake calipers finished in the same color. That’s all the E-Hybrid tech oozing out! It looked ok on our Carrera White Metallic test car, but you need to be careful about your choice on the Porsche palette. The familiar sloping roofline drops into a completely new tail lamp cluster. Inspired from the Mission E concept car, the full width tinted LED tail lamp unit looks light years ahead of anything seen on today’s super saloons. When parked, its best to leave the four-way spoiler stowed as you get to enjoy the flowing lines on this big boy. But it’s cool how this super-wide spoiler pops out of its packaging, more like a butterfly spreading out its wings! Now let’s jump in for the take-off.
A bi-turbo V8 petrol engine, a couple of electric motors, an eight-speed PDK and an all-wheel drive system. Say hello to 680 horsepower of pure ‘Porsche-ness’ and 850 Nm of torque available right from the word GO. That’s what the spec sheets say. I was puzzled when I pressed the start button and all that happened was the dials lighting up and the meters doing the self-check! Ahh yes…hybrid. The Panamera was on E-Hybrid mode and it starts up on the batteries alone. We will get back to this later; time to drive the fastest Panamera ever.
Even though my hands itched to switch the drive mode to Sport+ and just floor the gas pedal, I had this urge to check out the E-Hybrid tech on this car. Partially because it looked good on paper and partially because I would never want to do it again! So with a light foot and with yogic mental strength, you can drive the Panamera on electric power alone for 50 kilometers. But for me it was more like 50 meters before my right foot gave up on me and the V8 blurted to life. The transition was butter smooth and I could feel speed building up pretty rapidly. After a quick fuel stop, I could feel the evil horns growing out of my head as I secretly switched the car to Sport+ and slammed the accelerator. 100 km/h came up in a blink and then I decided not to blink! Myself and my crew of three (yes, this is a strict four-seater) were thanking our stars, planets, solar systems and the wonderful seats for holding us in place. This thing is a rocket in straights! Yet you feel composed and classy (that’s some Porsche engineering in action).
And fast corners; it’s the cherry on top. The all-wheel drive with rear-wheel steering pushes you into corners like a pro and the onboard supercomputers ensure that you exit just as sweet. The three-step air suspension combined with PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) and PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) are working their heads-off to keep you on track. The good thing here is that all this happens rather gracefully. Not to mention the lightning quick shifts of the eight-speed PDK, which handles all the confusion generated by the V8 and the electric motors via some clutch wizardry and that electronically controlled rear differential lock. The 2,300 kg Panamera maintains its poise even in the trickiest of situations and I love that lack of aggressiveness, which can sometimes fool you into driving too quickly.
If you were wondering what those big green things within your massive 21-inch wheels are; then stop. Literally that’s how quick those ceramic composite brakes work. And the green paint on the calipers means that you are generating power even when you brake hard!
Even amidst all this action, my stress meter is at zero because that’s how well the interiors are made on the flagship Panamera. It is close to impossible to lay your hands or eyes on anything other than leather. The interiors are just bathed in top class leather. Our test mule was finished in a combination of Black and Crayon, which made it easy on our eyes. I personally would love to see the steering wheel wrapped in seat colors. The front seats are 14-way adjustable and you get 8-way adjustable seats with a massage function for the rear. Believe me, the seats are so much more comfortable than they look and cocoon you in Porsche luxury. You get a 12.3-inch touchscreen on the center console acting as the main infotainment control center with loads of data at your command. It starts with your usual temperature, maps and apps; and goes all the way to understanding how your driving can save the environment! Two seven-inch screens straight ahead of you give you a bit more useful info like vehicle speed and rpm, and for the purists there is an analogue tachometer. The whole cabin is uncluttered and you never feel like walking out of it irrespective of your seat position. This is one of the best inter-continental shuttles around!
680 horsepower versus a lot of digital screens… You know who wins here.
Let’s talk a bit about the e-tech in this Porsche before we wind up this super exciting test drive. 500 horsepower is generated from the bi-turbo V8 and 136 horsepower comes from the electric motors run by a big pack of lithium batteries. This is some excellent tech scrambled into a real-world car. You have a Panamera, which can drive on ‘mute’ in mall parking lots and give shudders to your neighbours on the motorway. The batteries on the car get charged while you drive and also you have the option to plug them into your home sockets overnight. The car’s brain can switch between engines and motor for the most efficient power delivery and you don’t need to flick a switch. Electric power is exciting as well as saves the planet, which proves the point of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. It is too much tech, but as long as it does its job I am game.
The only question is that in a car that costs close to a million bucks, where would you be sitting?
Pros: Practical exclusivity, interior quality, supercar capabilities
Cons: Heavy, nearly impossible to drive in e-mode (it’s not the car, it’s me), the crazy list of Porsche options
Rivals: Tesla Model S P100D, BMW M760Li, Mercedes S63 AMG
one word: Cloud 9
4.0L bi-turbo V8 with electric motor, 680 hp @ 5,750-6,000 rpm, 850 Nm @ 1,400-5,500 rpm
4WD, 8-speed PDK
0-100 km/h: 3.5 secs, top speed: 310 km/h, fuel consumption: 3 L/100 km
Weight: 2,310 kg