The launch of any new Porsche is an event in and of itself. When such a launch reveals a refinement in technological direction from the boys from Stuttgart, the event becomes iconic. Earlier this summer we were the guest of Porsche and the Porsche Centre Kuwait in Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, to get acquainted with the newest Panameras – including the 680hp Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, their top model, and the Panamera Sport Turismo – the first and only vehicle of its kind in the luxury segment.

What are we going to do here then? Compare the E-Hybrid and the Sport Turismo. No. That’d be pointless. While they are clothed similarly inside and out, these are two different cars yet potentially for the same driver. Whilst the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo with its V8 bi-turbo offers executives-in-a-hurry a top speed of 304km/h and 0-100 performance of 3.6 seconds (and all in state of the highest luxury), the Turbo S E-Hybrid does more of the same, but with a manner that will pin you harder in your seat-back.

Whilst the headline for the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is that it’s the only vehicle in its class to combine the option of pure electric driving with the performance of a true sports car and the comfort of a touring car, and that as the second plug-in hybrid model in the model line – following in the tracks of its predecessor, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (462 hp) – the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid highlights the importance of electromobility to Porsche – let’s not forget that behind this lays a finely engineered fuel-burning and fully performing Porsche. The best thing about the E-Hybrid is that you can forget it’s a hybrid altogether and drive it in just the way every Porsche is designed – with passion.

Porsche Panamera

Here’s a hybrid that you’ll actually want to drive

A key characteristic of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is its superb power delivery across engine speed ranges. At just above idle speed (from 1,400 rpm), the car has 850 Nm of torque at its disposal; this value remains constant up to 5,500 rpm. The eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission transfers power to the all-wheel Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system. The electric motor and V8 engine take the Porsche to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, or 3.5 seconds in the Executive model with extended wheelbase. The boost strategy was developed directly from the system used in the 918 Spyder super sports car.

The electric drive not only delivers exceptional energy efficiency, but also additional thrust – creating an additional electric turbo that enables Porsche to rightfully position the Panamera sports car in the same class as its large touring counterparts. In short – it’s a hybrid – but not as we know them.

Two cars in one?

That would be over-simplifying things, but the E-Hybrid really does offer responses to two totally different real-world motoring scenarios – efficient and smooth city driving, and mile-munching long distance touring.

The new Porsche is powered by an electric motor in combination with a V8 petrol engine adapted from the Panamera Turbo. The electric motor delivers 100 kW (136 hp at 2,800 rpm) and provides a maximum torque of 400 Nm (up to 2,300 rpm).

The top model in the Panamera line can travel up to 50 kilometres on electricity alone – an electric range that will allow many drivers of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid to complete their daily, local commute without generating any emissions at all. In Germany, for example, investigations by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure have established that 80 per cent of all car drivers in the Panamera’s home country cover less than 50 kilometres per day. We’d venture to suggest that the typical commute within our region is even shorter than this. Home to office and back again, electric only? Nothing new there. But in a car that you actually want to drive – now there’s a novelty.

Porsche Panamera

The most powerful hybrid saloon in the world

And grand tour ready it certainly is – the extended standard equipment of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid includes auxiliary air conditioning, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) including Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB), Power Steering Plus and 21-inch alloy wheels in the 911 Turbo Design. The basic package also includes adaptive aerodynamic elements and three-chamber air suspension system, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). Furthermore, the Executive version is equipped with rear axle steering as standard.

In keeping with the overall concept of the Panamera, the chassis combines the ride comfort of a luxury saloon with the performance of a true sports car. The basic chassis layout is complemented by a multitude of innovative systems designed for maximum comfort and performance. Virtually all of these assistance and convenience systems are part of the standard specification of the new Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid – including adaptive air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), the active chassis control system and anti-roll system Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) and the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB).

On track

The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit opened just last year – it’s sympathetically carved in to the gently sloping hillside of the Cowichan Valley. Surrounded by the beautiful sweeping pastoral roads that encircle and cross the Island but which are patrolled vigorously by the fine men and women of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, this 2.3 km circuit provided an ideal environment to squeeze more out of the Panamera than we otherwise could have (legally) done.

With 19 corners and almost 100 metres of climbing, you’d imagine this is a circuit more suited to quick laps courtesy of a Boxster or a Cayman – and while you’re not wrong, you’re not 100% correct either. Such is the power and the poise of the E-Hybrid that it displayed no signs of its weight nor size. Keep in mind the ‘hybridization’ of the Panamera adds around 300kg to the weight of the car – but such is the performance boost it is quicker and feels even more nimble than the non-hybrid Sport Turismo.

Porsche Panamera

If this is the future of motoring (and it is), we love it!

It’s every bit a grand tourer, but with a sports car at its heart. Along the track’s short straights and around its tight-to-sweeping corners, the Panamera never required more than a light touch of the wheel at speed – and all the time the 8-speed PDK made the most of each and every one of those 680 German horses. The Sport Chrono’s Sport Plus mode meanwhile ensures harmony from the electric anti-roll bars, optional four-wheel steering, torque vectoring, carbon ceramic brakes, three-chamber air suspension, Porsche traction management and launch control.

As the most powerful hybrid saloon in the world, it’s a game-changer in the luxury car sector. Someday, all grand tourers will be built this way, and for 2018 Porsche have stolen a march on the competition with their very accomplished Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. With this, they haven’t reinvented the motor car – but they’ve pushed it a long way down the path of positive evolution.

All about the Sport Chrono Package

Including the mode switch integrated into the steering wheel, this forms part of the standard equipment on the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. The mode switch and the Porsche Communication Management system are used to select the various driving modes. These modes include the familiar ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ modes from the other Panamera models equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. The hybrid-specific modes are ‘E-Power’, ‘Hybrid Auto’, ‘E-Hold’ and ‘E-Charge’.

E-Power: the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid drives up to 50 kilometres on electricity alone for emissions-free local journeys.

Hybrid Auto: a completely new development. When this mode is selected, the Panamera changes and combines the drive sources automatically for ultimate efficiency.

E-Hold allows drivers to consciously conserve the current state of charge to enable them to switch to electric and there-fore zero-emissions mode in an environmental zone at their destination, for example.

In E-Charge the battery is charged by the eight-cylinder engine; to achieve this, the petrol engine generates a higher level of power than is actually needed just for driving.

Sport and Sport Plus deliver the highest level of drive performance. The V8 biturbo is active continuously in these modes. In ‘Sport’ mode, the battery charge is always maintained at a minimum level to ensure that sufficient boost reserve capacity is available when needed. ‘Sport Plus’ mode is all about maximum performance. In addition, the battery is charged as quickly as possible to ensure maximum performance.

Porsche Panamera