March 2, 2011
“The most fuel-efficient Porsche of all time” is quite a claim, but the famed company behind the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid is not known for making outlandish statements. This is Porsche’s second hybrid, following in the tire tracks of the Cayenne S Hybrid and using the same hardware. Since the Panamera is a sports sedan/hatch, it is somewhat lighter and more aerodynamic than its SUV cousin, so that fuel efficiency assertion becomes more feasible.
The Panamera S Hybrid has just made its official debut at the 2011 Geneva auto show, so the only consumption figures so far are derived from what is known as the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) – no EPA numbers until later this year. Even so, 6.8 liters of gas to cover 100 kilometers works out to 34.6 mpg (the EPA figure for the Cayenne S Hybrid is 25 mpg on the highway). This is on optional low rolling resistance tires. On standard performance rubber, it gulps another three-tenths of a liter.
In electric mode only, the car can accelerate to 50 mph and travel for up to a mile before the engine cuts in, which goes some way to keeping city-bound gas consumption low. But this is a Porsche, so let’s look at the fun stuff: zero to 60 mph on 5.7 seconds (pretty good for a luxury car) and a top speed of 167 mph. This is thanks to a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that dishes out 333 horsepower, plus another 47 horses from an electric motor – all turning the rear wheels.
Incidentally, Porsche’s hybrid system uses nickel metal hydride (NiMh) batteries as opposed to the more modern practice of employing lithium-ion batteries. This is because NiMh is considered to deliver more of a performance punch and is therefore better suited to the marque’s driving philosophy. The automatic transmission is also a conventional eight-speeder, not a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is definitely an enthusiast’s choice.
When the 2012 Panamera S Hybrid goes on sale in the United States toward the end of the year, it will start at $95,975 (with destination charges), but will enjoy even more standard equipment than the swanky Panamera V8 S model. Features include adaptive air suspension, navigation, plus the now-obligatory Bluetooth and iPod integration.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.