Several months ago, I talked in this space about all the Porsche cars I’d had the privilege of driving in 2018 and ’19, before COVID-19 brought just about everything to a halt.
I said, when I did a preview of the new Panamera — five models, in fact, ranging from the rear-wheel drive Panamera (starting at $99,300), to the AWD Panamera 4 ($104,600), the AWD 4S E-hybrid ($128,500), the AWD Panamera GTS ($147,400) and the AWD Panamera Turbo S ($202,400) — that I couldn’t wait to drive at least one of them.
Well, several weeks ago, I got my wish. I borrowed a Panamera 4S E-hybrid for a couple of days and, as the advertising says, it really does combine the performance of a sports car with the comfort of a sedan. I was smitten.
The 4S E-Hybrid is a plug-in. The 134 hp electric motor, when combined with an eight-speed, dual-clutch, PDK transmission and a 2.9-litre V-6 twin-turbo engine, generates a system output of 552 hp and a maximum system torque of 553 lb.-ft. It features an updated battery pack and improved range. When launched, you can go from zero to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds.
This review originally appeared in the Toronto Star
I know this to be true, I’ve found a new test area, a giant parking lot (now empty, because of COVID-19) near the corner of Eglinton Avenue and Satellite Drive in Mississauga. I took the Porsche over there and you have to be really careful because zero to 100 km/h in a tad more than three seconds is a real kick in the pants and you can very quickly be out of control. Hold on, however, and top speed is 298 km/h.
The car is extremely nimble. I took it through my slalom course (tall light standards in that parking lot) and it didn’t feel as if I had to steer it — all I had to do was look and the car seemed to go in that direction. Translation: it’s really easy to drive. One negative: when the weather was damp, the brakes felt spongy. They worked perfectly but you didn’t feel as confident using them as you did when conditions were dry.
Now, let’s be honest. The 4S E-Hybrid looks like a stretched 911 in order to accommodate the two additional doors. But because this is a sedan as well as a sports car, that’s OK. The car comes with a Sport Design front end (which was optional on previous Panameras), large side cooling openings and enlarged air-intake grilles. At the rear, a revamped light strip now runs over the trunk lid and connects with the two LED tail light clusters.
Inside — and I love the cockpit of any Porsche, never mind just the 4S E-Hybrid — you’ll find a new steering wheel and extensive use of leather and premium materials. The Panamera offers speed limit and highway construction information plus an extensive range of assistance systems such as Lane Keeping Assist, Night Vision Assist, Lane Change Assist, Park Assist including Surround View, Adaptive Cruise Control and head-up display.
My wife and I are both tall but with the seats all the way back, we were very comfy. In fact, we were so comfortable, sliding into this Porsche felt like slipping on a glove. And everything’s at your fingertips.
The back seat is something else, though. There is not a lot of room back there for people our size but if you don’t travel from Toronto to Kingston and just stick with the short trips, the back seat is OK if you sit up straight.
Speaking of short trips — up to a little less than 30 km — you should be able to do them in silence: the E-Hybrid comes with driving modes Hybrid Auto and E-Power and a couple of charging modes. When you get to the EV max, the transition from electricity to gasoline is seamless.
Another winner from Porsche.
2020 Porsche Panamera 4S E-hybrid
BODY STYLE: Small sedan/sports car (4-door, five passenger)
DRIVE METHOD: Front engine, all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 2.9-litre V-6 twin-turbo engine with 134 hp electric motor (552 total hp; 553 lb.-ft. of torque)
FUEL ECONOMY: City: 12-15 L/100 km; Highway: 8-10 L/100 km
CARGO VOLUME: 405 litres (can grow to 520L, as back seats can fold down)
CURB WEIGHT: 2,200 kg
PRICE: $128,500 plus tax, freight, etc.