Porsche’s plug-in version of the Panamera could be all the car you ever need in Singapore, or anywhere: Cracking fun to drive, shooting brake stylish, and practical green performance
SINGAPORE – You shouldn’t trust the opinions of car journalists since they’re almost always wagon-addled perverts addicted to impracticality and high-performance.
Ju-Len and David Khoo need no explanation, their V8-accelerated degeneration is clear for all to see. Meanwhile, staff writer Jon Lim can write impassioned novellas on anything uncommon or rear-wheel driven, or even worse, both.
The denigration of boiling implements aside, if I had more money that I knew what to do with, I wouldn’t spend it on a Ferrari F8 Tributo, nor a Mercedes-AMG GT four-door, I would probably buy this car here – the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo.
Fun fact: Porsche was the first to launch a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in Singapore. That was in 2014, when the first plug-in Panamera, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, came here.
But with the new version of the PHEV Panamera, Porsche proves that far more luxury car buyers should consider a performance PHEV like this because it’s a great car, full stop.
Here we drive the second-gen of Panamera PHEV, but in the extra tasty Sport Turismo shooting brake/wagon guise, and full model name is thus (deep breath) ‘Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo’.
It’s basically a Panamera 4 Sport Turismo with a hybrid system, encompassing a 136hp motor generator and lithium ion battery pack of 14.1kWh capacity (up from 9.4kWh before).
The revvier 2.9-litre biturbo engine (as compared to the single turbo 3.0 V6 in the standard Panamera non-S) makes approximately the same power (330hp), more grunt from the e-motor delivers a system total of 462hp and 700Nm, a significant increase from 416hp/590Nm of the previous Panamera hybrid (non-ST, that is)
That also makes it quite a bit faster than the Panamera ST, despite the hybrid packing on a hefty 310kg for a 2,190kg kerbweight.
In a lesser machine, that would probably spell for disaster, but in real life it doesn’t feel significantly heavier than the normal car, and along that line, the Panamera is big, but ‘shrinks’ utterly when you start driving it.
Adding a hybrid battery pack seemingly does nothing to impinge on the enjoyable, balanced Porsche dynamics. The car remains composed and well-damped, even with the (standard) adaptive air suspension in its hardest mode, the steering and handling faultless even at this price level.
With the Porsche Sport Chrono Pack as standard equipment, you can flick through different drive modes via the steering wheel dial, but as a PHEV there are a few unique things to note.
Sport+, Sport, Individual are all self-explanatory by now, there’s also a Hybrid mode for this car. Hybrid Auto is the default, just let the car figure it all out, but you can also select E-Power (run on battery power), E-Charge (charge the battery with the engine), E-Hold (maintain the battery at the current charge level).
The 14.1kWh battery pack charges in two to four hours with a standard wallbox and delivers a quoted range of ‘25 to 51km’. The box is included with the car, quoted charge rate is 3.6kW to 7.2kW depending on installation requirements, DC fast charge is not available. With power at a current tariff of S$0.244/kWh, it costs approximately S$3.40 to charge the car fully.
The big question is, does it really work as a no-emissions car in Singapore?
Its EV mode does deliver impressive, usable range. With a quoted battery charge of around 3/4 and 26km, we did a 80/30 highway/urban stint and reached our destination with seven km of electric range to spare.
On a full charge the car’s display quotes 39km of range, so a Singaporean driver could easily cover their full day’s commute without the engine kicking in at all.
The best part is, when the road permits, flick into Sport mode and the lovely-sounding 2.9-litre V6 is yours to play with, and coupled with the electric grunt, gives the driver plenty of oomph to thoroughly enjoy.
But even when driven as a normal hybrid, the car still delivers impressive fuel efficiency. We clocked sub-8.0L/100km, which is tremendously good for a big luxury car like this and on par or better with a (badly driven) East Asian sedan, although we can’t comment for long-term performance without access to a charge point.
The hybrid Panamera ST seems to blend it all seamlessly: Guilt-assuaging (and slightly money saving) hybrid or EV drive modes, big performance on tap, classic Porsche dynamics, and a dose of practicality as well.
Clever tonneau system does not require lumbar strength of an elephant to use – pop the handle, it folds out neatly.
The downsides? As we’ve said before, Porsche’s interface has slick presentation, but touchscreens are finicky if you don’t have a co-pilot, and it’s one of the lux-grade infotainment systems we least enjoy using.
The car is heavier, but Porsche’s tuned it such that this will only truly matter if you’re a dedicated track junkie. There’s less boot space, but it’s marginal (520-litres down to 425-litres). And to reap the full benefits of EV driving you’ll need access to a charge point.
As it is with a Porsche, you can spec the car to your desire but pay for the privilege. The test car has S$94,757 worth of options, the four-wheel steering system (S$7,263) is a must have, while others are up to individual taste, such as S$15,835 for the ‘GT Silver Metallic Paint’ and S$14,349 for the upsized 21-inch wheels.
Which brings us back to the point about ‘if it were my (very fictional) money’.
A Porsche buyer obviously isn’t quibbling cents when they sign the dotted line, but who wouldn’t say no to a lower fuel bill, consuming more efficiently, and the ability to assuage climate-change induced guilt a little, without sacrificing any of the reasons to buy a Porsche in the first place?
Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
|Engine||2,894cc, V6, twin turbocharged|
|Power||330hp at 5250-6500rpm|
|Torque||450Nm at 1750-5000rpm|
|Electric Motor||136hp / 400Nm|
|Battery||Lithium ion / 14.1kWh|
|Charging Time / Type||2.5 hours / Wallbox|
|Electric Range||38km (average)|
|System Total Power / Torque||462hp / 700Nm|
|VES/CO2||A2 / 120g/km|
|Price||S$482,388 without COE, options
S$532,145 as tested, without COE