2014 Porsche Panamera
Can Your $100,000 Hybrid Do That?
Last year’s Panamera S hybrid is superseded by a new plug-in S E-hybrid that can deliver 20 or more miles of electric-only operation before the gas engine cuts in. Getting those 20 miles on battery power alone requires a measured driving style; go crazy and push past an obvious detent point in throttle travel, and the engine will spring to life. To achieve the plug-in, electric-only range, Porsche has upped the capacity of the hybrid battery from 1.7 to 9.4 kWh and switched from nickel-metal hydride to more-energy-dense lithium-ion cells. In E-Power mode, the 2014 Panamera can attain 83 mph with the gas engine off.
Your battery is depleted and there’s no time (about two-and-a-half hours on a 240-volt fast charger) to stop and plug in? No problem, as the supercharged, 333-hp Audi-based 3.0-liter V-6 can completely recharge the battery on the fly in E-Charge mode in 19 to 22 miles of normal driving. Although official EPA estimates haven’t been released, Porsche maintains the 2014 S E-hybrid consumes 56 percent less fuel than its predecessor in European testing. Last year’s Panamera S hybrid achieved ratings of 22/30 mpg.
But how does the S E-hybrid work as a Porsche? The 2014 model’s 95-hp electric motor is roughly twice the size of the previous hybrid’s, and 0-to-60 sprints feel a bit stronger—Porsche estimates 5.2 seconds, which would be midway between the performance of a base Panamera and new twin-turbo V-6 S model. But more important, the Panamera S E-hybrid retains the dynamic characteristics you’d expect in a Porsche. True, the hybrid isn’t going to viscerally excite, but its steering and braking don’t have the numb, disconnected, or two-step feel of many other hybrids.
Until the company announced its intention to build the Panamera five short years ago, a big, commodious, heavy, fancy Porsche sedan seemed as unlikely as a sofa-sized Tiffany punchbowl or a Cartier JumboTron. But the Panamera is here, faster and more feature packed than ever, its lucrative existence something for which Porsche brass—if not Porsche purists—will be eternally grateful.
Going to Great Lengths
Originally introduced for the 2010 model year, the 2014 Panamera receives a mid-cycle freshening, which is thorough enough that Porsche has decided to dub the car Panamera II. (We will refrain from using this naming scheme, however.) If you thought the Ford F-150 came in every nuance and flavor under the sun, the 2014 Panamera lineup has likewise ballooned—to nine models available in two wheelbases and powered by five different engines. There are some appearance updates—a more-teardropesque shape to the headlamps, bigger nostrils in the front fascia, a flatter liftgate window, lower mounting for the rear license plate, and revised taillamps—but you’d have to be a Panamerologist to notice without the previous-year car alongside for reference.
Likewise, the well-tailored cabin carries forward the upscale feel. It’s surprisingly roomy, with ample leg- and headroom in all four seating positions, even in the standard-wheelbase version. Your six-foot-two author had no trouble fitting in the back when the driver’s seat was set to his preferences. But the big news for 2014 is the addition of two stretched Executive models. These add another 5.9 inches of wheelbase—all of which is dedicated to the rear seats, which move fore-and-aft and recline, with optional fold-down picnic tables.(Porsche appears to have declined to match the 2014 Mercedes S-class’s nearly horizontally reclining seats with hot-stone massage, as well as its fragrance dispenser.)
Revised Engine Lineup
Although the 3.6-liter V-6 (up slightly to 310 horsepower) continues as the base powerplant for the Panamera and all-wheel-drive Panamera 4, the Panamera S and 4S and the new, stretch 4S Executive get a new twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. The blown six-banger replaces the naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V-8 in these models, key to success in China and other countries where displacement taxes ramp up drastically on anything larger than 3.0 liters. Porsche comes by its 3.0-liter V-6 by chopping a pair of cylinders off its V-8, so this engine has 90-degree cylinder banks with a balance shaft in the sump to quell vibration. At 420 horsepower, its output is up by 20 compared with last year’s base 4.8-liter V-8.
Like the V-8, the turbo V-6 is available with an optional sport exhaust that at least restores a little engine character. Official EPA estimates are not yet available, but Porsche claims the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 is 18 percent more fuel efficient than the 4.8-liter V-8.
Government policies for reduced greenhouse gases be damned, most people who can afford the price of a Panamera can easily handle the overhead of feeding and caring for a V-8. So we’re glad the high-output, naturally aspirated 4.8-liter is back for an encore engagement in the Panamera GTS, where it now packs 440 horses. The Turbo and new, long-wheelbase Turbo Executive models add a pair of turbochargers, upping the 4.8-liter eight-holer’s output to 520 horsepower. With V-8 power, the two-and-a-quarter-ton Panamera comes alive with the kind of performance and handling the brand is renowned for.
Regardless of whether you’re seated in the first or second row, the GTS and Turbo models shrink around you at speed, as if they really were four-door variants of the 911. The Panamera Turbo S undoubtedly will reappear soon, too, crowning the lineup with even more power.
front-engine, rear- or 4-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 5-door hatchback
supercharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6, 333 hp, 325 lb-ft, permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor, 95 hp, 229 lb-ft, combined power rating, 416 hp, 435 lb-ft, 9.4-kWh lithium-ion battery; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6, 420 hp, 384 lb-ft; DOHC 24-valve 3.6-liter V-6, 310 hp, 295 lb-ft; DOHC 32-valve 4.8-liter V-8, 440 hp, 384 lb-ft; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.8-liter V-8, 520 hp, 516 lb-ft
7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode, 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 115.0-120.9 in
Length: 197.4-203.4 in
Width: 76.0 in Height:55.4-56.1 in
Curb weight (C/D est):4100-4900 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 3.2-5.2 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 11.6-13.8 sec
Top speed: 160-190 mph
FUEL ECONOMY (C/DEST):
EPA city/highway driving: 15-26/23-33 mpg