Every car has it’s ‘unique selling point’ and the Panamera Hybrid is no exception. It’s the only Porsche that you can drive through the centre of London and beat the Congestion Charge.
It’s also kind of cool trundling through the City in electric mode, silently passing through the streets not burning up a drop of fuel. The Panamera Hybrid pumps out a lowly 75 g/km of emissions – which put it in the same bracket as many super-frugal city cars.
Driving back to the Cotswolds into a full-on storm, it was time to hit the Sport button. Suddenly the four-door performs more like you might expect a Porsche to. Searingly fast, very aggressive with excellent handling.
For people who need an urban supercar with all the advantages of electric power, the Panamera has created a niche of its own. There really isn’t much else to rival it.
That’s how the Panamera Hybrid works best. But if you’re more of a long distance driver, constantly hacking up and down a motorway, there are better models to pick in the Panamera line-up.
Gok Wan drives a Porsche Panamera. The celebrity stylist loves cars but I’m a little surprised he opted for the German four-door. Why? Well, quite simply the Panamera just isn’t the prettiest sporting, four-seat hatchback.
You only have to look at the stunning Aston Martin Rapide or the Maserati Quattroporte to realise that somewhere, somehow, Porsche got the styling wrong.
The Panamera is just a little toooo long in profile. The front end is classic Porsche but my, there’s nothing very appealing about the rest of the car.
Inside? Well, it’s a different story but more on that tomorrow. I’m just about to steer the Panamera towards Sussex to meet and interview the world’s number one showjumper, Scott Brash. Let’s see how it goes long distance…
Acid green – that’s the official name for the paint job on the Panamera brake callipers. It’s a florescent gunge colour that might not be to everybody’s taste and is repeated on the rear boot badge too.
Porsche only use this on the E-Hybrid – maybe it’s there to remind buyers that the rubbish brakes fitted on the original Panamera are no more. Indeed, this is a much better and more credible car all round.
Why? Well, the car still uses a supercharged Audi V6 but has lithium batteries instead of nickel and increases the storage capacity five-fold. The hybrid also feels much quicker and only takes 2.5 hours to charge from a fast charger.
The Panamera remains a large car and anybody thinking this is just a stretched 911 will be sorely disappointed.
But as an alternative to a BMW, Mercedes or Audi, it’s certainly a cool, if rather more expensive option.
Porsche brought out the original version of the Panamera petrol-electric hybrid in 2009, but it didn’t offer British buyers much in tax savings. The model we’re testing this week came out in 2014 as a plug-in, with a bigger electric motor and better batteries.
It can cover about 22 miles in electric-only mode, with an impressive top speed of 84mpg. That means it qualifies for a government-funded rebate of £5,000 on purchase price, escapes the London congestion charge and has a lowly tax band rate for business buyers.
But apart from the technological achievement and the financial savings – once you’ve paid £80K plus to buy it! – what’s it like to drive? Well, I can tell you that there’s something quite weird about being inside a silent Porsche as you drive through a town.
You have to be a little less enthusiastic with the right foot to stop the petrol engine kicking in but there is a seamless transition between the two power sources.
And what I like most is when the car is coasting because it feels like a giant sail is on the roof, blowing you along by wind power only. Cool.
I still can’t see many Porsche buyers using the plug-in option to charge their Panamera but it’s a nice touch anyway…