First Drive: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

The electric motor sits between the gasoline engine and the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, another first for the Panamera as seven-speed PDKs are standard in other trim levels. In E Power mode, the gasoline engine is completely decoupled from the drivetrain and power is routed from the battery to the electric motor through the eight-speed transmission to the rear wheels. However, the car is limited to 53 mph and a range of about one mile before gasoline assistance kicks in. With both the gas and electric powertrains operational, the Panamera S Hybrid is the fastest production hybrid in the world with a top speed of 167 mph and sprints to 60 mph in a claimed 5.7 seconds. Lift off the throttle at cruising speed, and again, the gasoline engine shuts down and is decoupled from the drivetrain, reducing engine drag and fuel consumption.

On our mountain drive deep within the Bavarian Alps, the Panamera S Hybrid possessed great poise with just a touch of understeer when pushed hard. The electrically-assisted steering is perfectly weighted and helps make the big-bodied Panamera feel smaller than it really is. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how well the powertrain performed. There is no lack of power from the engine, and the transition from gasoline to E Power mode is smooth as silk; in fact, it didn’t feel or drive anything like a hybrid vehicle, and that’s exactly what Porsche was going for.

EPA numbers haven’t been released, but we estimate the Panamera S Hybrid to achieve 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. That’s a smidge better than the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7-series. The base price for the Panamera S Hybrid is $95,000 without destination. It comes with a plethora of standard equipment including an adaptive air suspension management (PASM), adaptive dampers, Porsche communication management (PCM) with navigation, a USB audio port, and bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.

We walked away impressed with the Panamera S Hybrid and its seamless yet powerful operation. Today, hybrids hold only a two percent market share worldwide, but Porsche predicts that number will balloon to 24 percent by 2020.

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I don't know why you guys think a fuel efficient sports car is an oximoron, most (real, non SUV) Porsches are rather fuel efficient. This Hybrid is not significantly better in terms of mileage when driven very hard - however when driven casually, the savings are more significant because this hybrid can "coast" with the engine shut off and completely disengaged.
A lot of trouble for gas mileage that is no better than a gas engine in the same vehicle. Am I missing something?

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