Some observers have said the Porsche Panamera Hybrid betrays the spirit of the legendary German automaker known for building two-seat sports cars that go very fast. Lighten up, y'all. The world is still turning and it's getting greener. The 2012 Panamera S Hybrid still goes pretty fast, but it also has world-class comfort and gets 30 highway miles per gallon. I'm just not seeing a problem.
In fact, I see a fabulous "sports car for four" that will still shove your head back to its rest when you stand on the pedal. In the new, greener world that most drivers live in today, this luxury hybrid is a good - albeit very expensive - alternative. Mileage figures are estimated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, for a combined 25 mpg. Our test 2012 Panamera S Hybrid had a sticker price of $108,225. Along with the Cayenne S Hybrid, it's for drivers who want the panache of a Porsche along with the hybrid badging. Really though, the 2012 Panamera S Hybrid isn't all that different from the other six Panamera models available.
It is powered by a 333-horsepower V-6 gasoline engine combined with a 47-horsepower electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. With its 8-speed Tiptronic S transmission, the Panamera S Hybrid will take you from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds, and it will go 167 miles per hour on a track.
The regular Panamera has
Porsche's first-ever V-6 that develops 300 horsepower. The Panamera 4 adds AWD, the Panamera S has a 4.8-liter V-8, the Panamera 4S is the AWD version of the 4, the Panamera Turbo adds twin turbochargers, and the top of the line Panamera Turbo S, has a V-8 that cranks out 550 horses. The Turbo S and Hybrid are the new models for 2012.
With the Panamera's curb weight of 4,365 pounds, Porsche engineers had to come up with innovative ways to milk the most miles from each of the 21 gallons in its fuel tank. The powertrain, also used in the Cayenne S Hybrid, is regulated by a "hybrid manager" that stops and starts the gasoline engine and incorporates the electric motor and battery. The stop/ start feature is nearly imperceptible, and the car can operate short distances on battery power alone. There is also a "sailing" feature that turns the engine off during coasting, which also helps charge the battery. Air conditioning, steering and braking are electric and unaffected by the engine's stops and starts.
With an overall length of 195.7 inches and width of 83.2 inches, the Panamera Hybrid, like the regular models, is spacious and roomy inside its four doors. Inside, Porsche cues include five circular gauges and an ignition switch on the left (a racing feature that allowed drivers to hop in the car and start the engine with their left hand while at the same time engaging the transmission with their right).
The test car had heated and cooled front seats - adjustable 14 ways - and the executive seats in back were separated by a folding center armrest.
Switchgear and controls line the sides of the center console, and there's no need to delve deeply into a computer program to find them. A 7-inch touch screen houses the navigation system and gives the driver access to a wide range of functions. The center console extends to both rows. The automatic air conditioning has two zones, with an option for four. The optional Burmester sound system is simply the best I have ever heard in an automobile.
The standard power liftgate in the hybrid reveals 11.8 cubic feet of luggage space, even with the battery pack beneath the cargo floor. The rear seat backs fold down to make even more room.
Engine: V-6, combined with electric motor
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 380 combined
Test model price: $108,225
EPA mileage rating: 22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway / 25 mpg combined