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Road Test: 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

Pras Subramanian
Producer/Reporter
2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Porsche)

Electricification is the name of the game in the auto world. Almost every brand is going to make an all-electric vehicle in the future, if they haven’t already done so.

Even Porsche (VOW.DE) is with their upcoming all-electric Taycan. But before we start pondering whether our electrified autonomous vehicles dream of electric sheep when they’re charging at night, we’re going to be lingering in the in-between limbo of next-gen drivetrains – and that means plug-in hybrid variants.

Porsche Taycan (Credit: Porsche)

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not going to be boring. Which leads me to Porsche’s high performance entry into this space – the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.

When Porsche offered us the chance to test the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid in Sport Turismo wagon trim, I was eager to get in and see what it could do. We’re talking about a vehicle featuring a plug-in hybrid powered, twin-turbocharged V-8. This was Porsche’s most powerful production car ever, save the 918 Spyder hypercar and ultra-exclusive 911 GT2 RS.

2018 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Pras Subramanian)

And let’s dig into that engine and hybrid system. Porsche says this car features a twin-turbocharged and intercooled 4.0-liter V-8, pumping out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. Now its paired with a permanent-magnet synchronous AC electric motor, which adds 136 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to the mix; giving our Turbo S-E-hybrid Sport Turismo a combined system output of 680 hp and 626 lb-ft – bonkers stuff. The battery is a 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which when combined with the hybrid system will give the car around 14 miles of all electric driving.

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid (Credit: Porsche)

Behind the wheel, and the tech

I wanted to me amazed by the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, I really did. I was a big fan of the Panamera Turbo S – the new body style coupled with that beast of a turbocharged engine made it in my mind the best grand tourer money could buy.

Hopping in the drivers seat it felt very familiar – just like your standard Panamera Turbo S – except for a few subtle differences. The rotary dial on the steering wheel is similar to others on Porsche vehicles, except this one contains 4 unique settings – E-Power (fully electric), Hybrid Auto, Sport (gas engine always), or Sport Plus. I found hybrid auto to be the best when tooling around town and for conserving gas. Sport and Sport Plus as you can imagine where great on the highway and backroads.

2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Porsche)

But that’s not all from a system point of view. Hitting the ‘hybrid’ touch button on the center console launched additional settings. In addition to the 4 modes above, two other settings appear in the touch display. E-Hold mode maintains the charge of the electric battery at the current level, meaning battery power can be used at a later time – for instance when you know you’ll be  tooling around town at low speed, or need additional battery power fo acceleration.

The other mode was E-charge mode, where the battery is charged by the combustion engine while your driving, instead of being used to help propel the vehicle. Porsche says this this feature is useful to use on roads just before you need drive through town for example on on electric power alone. I found these additional software and hardware features to be quite useful on the Panamera. After all this was a hybrid plug in, where you can use one power source to augment performance, or charge that system when it isn’t being used.

2018 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Pras Subramanian)

On the road of course the Panamera Sport Turismo felt planted, and steering was direct as usual. Porsche seats are great in case you were wondering, keeping the driver well positioned and supported. And Porsche brakes are phenomenal here – perfect linearity and bite when you need it – no guessing or vagueness in the brake pedal here.

The power was prodigious – nearly 700 horsepower under your right foot was an awesome power. In Sport and Sport Plus mode the car felt alive.

Now the regular Panamera Turbo S was a fast car, hitting 0 to 60mph in 3.4 seconds all the way to a top speed of just under 200mph. The Turbo S E-hybrid version hit 60mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds, even though it was saddled with 600 pounds of additional weight from the electric motor and battery system.

2018 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Pras Subramanian)

But – and this is a big but – this is a big car, and in Sport Turismo wagon trim it felt massive. Like limo massive, when navigating around a tight parking lot or slipping into a narrow driveway. On the road with that massive power the size sort of melted away, but you still know that mass is there. Even though its quicker than the standard Panamera Turbo, that standard non-hybrid version felt a little more alive, or limber, than the Turbo S-E Sport Turismo. It’s a small criticism; however, the Sport Turismo does offer you more practicality with a CUV style hatch in the back.

And let’s not forget that hybrid drive system. In Hybrid Auto mode, cruising down the the highway is effortless, and you never feel an abruptness when the gas engine kicks in, or vice versa when the electric power turns on and the gas engine shuts down. It’s pretty remarkable. And of course E-power offers you the ability to drive around on pure electric power alone – zero emissions is a great thing when you’re just running around town performing mindless errands like picking up groceries or dropping off the dry cleaning. You don’t need 700 hp for that.

2018 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Pras Subramanian)

To go green, or not to go green

The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo starts at $184,400. So the big question is whether the Turbo S E-hybrid is worth the additional $35,000 or more over the outstanding non-hybrid Panamera Turbo. You’re still paying upwards of $150,000 for either car so that extra $35K here isn’t going to break the bank for someone in that price range – although it is around 20% higher.

In my humble opinion, the premium is worth if you live in a state where you can commute in an HOV or green lane if you will, or can take advantage of other benefits like tax breaks, or if you just want to have an uber-performance sportwagan that allows you live that plug-in hybrid lifestyle.

The bottom line is the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo offers the best technology Porsche has to offer, assuming you’re not in the market to buy a 911 GT2 RS, or a 918 Spyder (which if you can find one, starts around $850,000).

2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo (Credit: Porsche)

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Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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