Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid driven

* Porsche's most eco model * Price £86,476 * On sale June...

14 May 2011
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid driven

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: So what is it?

The most economical model in Porsche's history, and the latest addition to the Panamera luxury performance car range.

Like the Cayenne Hybrid, it uses a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 374bhp. This is enough for 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 167mph, yet the Panamera Hybrid averages 39.8mpg and emits just 167g/km of CO2.

Low rolling resistance tyres that nudge fuel economy up to 41.5mpg and cut CO2 to 159g/km are available as an option, although the top speed has to be limited to 149mph.

Getting below the 160g/km mark is significant because it allows companies to offset more of the car's value as a write-down allowance to lower their tax bills.

What's it like to drive?

If you're gentle with the throttle, the Panamera Hybrid can run on electric power alone for just over a mile. Alternatively, put your foot down hard, and the electric motor assists the petrol engine.

Porsche has clearly been working on this technology since it launched the Cayenne Hybrid, because the Panamera swaps between its power sources far more smoothly. Unfortunately, the engine still sounds thrashy rather than sporty when you rev it.

The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox doesn't help; it can be slow to change up, and although you do get steering wheel-mounted shift buttons, these are counter-intuitive to use.

Turn into a bend at speed and the Panamera Hybrid runs wide earlier than conventionally powered models (blame its higher weight and the low rolling resistance tyres fitted to our test car). What's more, the fully electric steering offers little feedback.

On the up side, high-speed refinement and stability are very impressive, and the standard adjustable air suspension provides a comfortable ride.

What's it like inside?

Aside from a couple of readouts that tell you whether the batteries are providing power or being charged, the Hybrid looks like any other Panamera from behind the wheel.

Many in-car functions are controlled through a simple touch-screen, and although the centre console is festooned with buttons, you quickly learn where everything is.

The quality of the materials and construction also impress, and there's plenty of room for four adults in the cabin. The boot is shallow, though, and rear vision poor.

Will it break the bank?

You'll certainly need deep pockets. At £86,476, the Panamera Hybrid costs 8255 more than the V8 petrol. That said, the gap is down to £4539 by the time you've swapped the V8s manual gearbox for a PDK semi-auto and added air suspension.

The Hybrid will also be much cheaper to run, averaging an extra 12.9mpg on its standard tyres. However, if it's an economical Panamera you're after, it may well be worth waiting for the 3.0-litre diesel, which goes on sale in August. This averages 43.5mpg (or 44.8mpg with the optional low rolling resistance tyres) and will cost £62,134.

What Car? says

A bit compromised, so we'd wait for the diesel