Being that the E-Hybrid was one of the main attractions on this press excursion, the keys to the three European spec cars were snatched up as quickly as possible, and I had to wait my turn. When I did get behind the wheel, though, what I found was certainly interesting. This car feels exactly like a Panamera, it looks exactly like a Panamera, and it drives like a Panamera. With the majority of the "eco" cars on the market from the Prius to the Tesla Model S, designers paid special attention to make them look different from everything else, making them "statement" cars, but the Panamera S e-hybrid is subtle in its environmentalism. The only thing setting this car apart visually from any other Panamera S is the appearance of acid green calipers, a pair of front door mounted e-hybrid badges, and a driver-side "fuel door" for the electric charging cord to slot into.
Borrowing the same 3.0 Supercharged V6 as used in the outgoing Panamera Hybrid and the Cayenne Hybrid (A Volkswagen/Audi sourced unit), the engine has the same output as before. The change, however, has been made in the electric side of the powertrain; the electric motor now produces 95 horsepower, more than double that of the old Panamera Hybrid (47 horsepower), and makes use of a new lithium-ion battery with 9.4 kilo-Watt hours of capacity (versus the 1.7 kWh Nickel-Metal Hydride battery in the outgoing car). The biggest difference, however, is in the fact that the Panamera E-Hybrid is now a fully integrated plug-in hybrid with more than 20 miles of range running on silent pure electric motivation.
The 3 Driving Modes Of The 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
There are three modes of driving in the Panamera S E-hybrid: E-Drive, E-Charge, and Sport. In E-Drive, the car will move under 100% electric power. Silently and uneventfully moving you along, it isn't a quick way to get somewhere, but you will produce zero hydrocarbons and burn zero gallons of fuel. Depending upon conditions and driving methods, the E-Hybrid can exceed 80 miles per hour on only electric drive. If things get out of hand, and you need to put your foot down, there is a step up in the e-throttle which barks the gasoline engine to life and lays down the power. In E-Charge mode, you will be driving 100% with the gasoline engine, using the regenerative braking and coasting functions to provide charge to the batteries. In Sport mode, however, both the gasoline engine and the electric motor are used to provide as much thrust as possible from the outset. In this mode, this Porsche Panamera is capable of a 0-60 sprint in 5.2 seconds, and can continue up to 167 miles per hour.
The strange thing about being behind the wheel of the E-Hybrid is the sound. Or, more to the point, the lack of sound. You can hear a proverbial pin hit the ground when moving along in E-Drive mode. Conversations are practically booming directly into your ear, and music is symphonic. Especially when paired with the optional heat and sound insulated glass, the Panamera becomes a vault. It's a Porsche that drives silently, surely that can't be. Well, to change that, all you have to do is put your foot on the loud pedal. It's the long, thin one on the right side of the foot-well.
Kicking on the supercharged engine gives a bit of a boot in the behind, thrusting you forward with an additional 333 horsepower. It isn't quite as sonorous as one would expect from a Porsche, but it certainly doesn't sound bad, especially when the supercharger "whine" is audible. The switch from one drive to the other is nearly seamless, and happens in the tick of a second hand.
Having stepped out of the Panamera 4S into this car, I was impressed with the immediacy with which it delivers power. Instead of the rubbery feel of the turbo engine, the supercharged engine puts the power on as soon as you ask for it, and with electric motors delivering their full power from 0 rpm, that doesn't hurt either. Additionally, while other Panamera stop-start systems require the engine to re-fire before moving away from a stand still, the E-Hybrid gets underway with electric power as soon as you press the throttle, then re-fires the engine at about 4 miles per hour, just to give you that extra feeling of immediacy.
The ethos behind a car like this, however, is wholly non-American in origin. Evidently, there are several cities in Europe that have become "low emissions zones", requiring cars entering the city to meet or exceed certain emissions standards. These LEZ areas require a car like this to run on pure electric power. Because of this, the Panamera S E-Hybrid has been designed with this ability in mind, allowing the Porsche to either be charged with a wall plug, or to charge itself (in E-Charge mode) on your way to the city center, then be driven around the city in E-Drive mode.
Earlier, I mentioned that Porsche's Car Connect app would connect the car to your phone, and at that time I mentioned a few nifty bits that the E-Hybrid boasted over the other cars with this app. Well, to begin with, the E-Hybrid comes standard with Car Connect, where other Panamera owners will have to pay $420 for the privilege. Secondly, the E-Hybrid Car Connect will show your charge status and electric range even when you are away from the car, allowing you to plan your drive home accordingly. Perhaps the most convenient piece of this kit, however, is that the E-Hybrid is equipped with an electric air conditioner and heater, allowing you to prepare the interior temperature of your car before you leave, allowing you the perfect climate when you arrive.
As I mentioned before, the Panameras we had at our disposal were European specification cars, and we were told that they had been taken apart and reassembled several times as demonstration pieces. If this was an example of a Porsche that had been put back together before, then I would love to see how solid a brand new one would be. This thing was so solidly bolted together that it felt like it was hewn from a solid block of granite. As I exited the car, I contemplated the 8 grand price difference between a Panamera S and the Panamera S E-Hybrid. Less than 10% more initial cost for more or less the same power, the same performance, better fuel economy (if you drive less than 10 miles one way to work, you could theoretically drive this car gasoline free during the work week), and more little gadgets, it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would buy a standard Panamera S when the E-Hybrid is so good.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera GTS Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera S Review