Hands-on: Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid first drive
We didn't have very long with the Porsche Panamera, but we thought it was worth some hands-on love, because it's a very special car. We've spent time with the diesel previously, and really liked it and the truth is, the Panamera is a bit weird to initially get your head around. But actually, it does make a lot of sense.
But first, why a hybrid? Well, this is actually incredibly smart. It can be plugged into your home electricity supply overnight, so this is more than just a car designed to save fuel when you're pulling away from traffic lights. Indeed, the Panamera can manage 80mph on its electric only drive. But the more remarkable number is that it can travel 22 miles in this mode. That means that a good percentage of your journeys can be done on electric only, and are essentially zero emissions at the exhaust.
While there's no getting away from the fact that electricity isn't a free resource - unless you have solar panels on your home, or a wind turbine - but even so, this is far more eco-friendly than any other sports car.
And the Panamera is a proper sports car, because, let's be honest, Porsche only does sports cars. What you get here though, is the flexibility for family. So, if you're a speed lover, who needs to take their other half and two kids around, then the Panamera is capable of that. Masses of legroom in the back, and a reasonable, if shallow, boot mean that it can be used legitimately where any other family car can be. It's also not as easy a target for the anti-4x4 brigade either, as it's a saloon not the traditional Chelsea tractor.
The Porsche rep we were chatting with seemed almost embarrassed about how eco-friendly it was, and that it's also eligible for the government's £5,000 refund for low-emissions vehicles. We say stuff and nonsense, the Porsche under EU official figures wipes the floor with many non-sports cars. Our daily runaround, the TDI A3, uses far more fuel on the official scale, so why shouldn't Porsche drivers get a refund under that scheme?
The base price for the Panamera S E-Hybrid is nearly £90,000 and it's possible to add toys that add a whopping £40,000 to the price. Some people have had their jimmies rustled by the fact that the brake calipers are only available in the "eco green" colour, unless you spring for the ceramic brake package. All that cash gets you a car that will take you from 0-62 in 5.5 seconds. That's pretty good for a car of this size, and with such eco credentials.
So, what's it like to drive. Well, we got to hammer around Porsche's test track at Silverstone, and it felt great there. This is, basically, a four-seater family car, so its performance is brilliant if you need something practicalish and fun. What's great is the way it pulls away - silently, and under electric power. As soon as you mash the accelerator, the engine starts and it delivers you smoothly from electric to petrol power straight away. It's a great combination, the petrol-free driving of electric motors, to the speed and performance we've come to expect from Porsche. Really, it's a remarkable car and we loved our short time in it.
From a hybrid perspective, Porsche says you can recharge the car from a 240v outlet in about four hours. Although 22 miles is the maximum range, the company says that 11-22 is probably the most realistic number, although it also says you might be able to go further in optimal conditions.
If we had this kind of money, we'd be happy to get the Panamera S E-Hybrid. It's gorgeous inside, has exterior looks that win you over after a short fight and it drives beautifully. Imagine doing the school run on just electric power. Or a long drive with fuel economy that beats almost any other car on the market. It's a stunning package, even if it does cost a lot of money.