New Car Reviews

Playing Poser in a 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

A Californian, an Okie, and two Michiganders meet in Detroit

It sounds like some sort of crappy regional joke. One Texan turned Californian, two Michiganders, and one Okie meet in Detroit to see The Boy from Toronto, all crammed into the leather-lined cockpit of the fastest four-door Porsche. In a perfect storm of scheduling and last minute planning, three of my closest friends and I closed out the summer with a Drake concert in the Motor City, accompanied by a 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.

Rap phenoms, we are not. Mogul-worthy car notwithstanding, picture two pairs of helplessly dorky 20-somethings hollering misremembered lyrics at Six God himself on stage, revelry fueled by stunning burst of acceleration and breathless freeway on-ramp sprints that reduced all of us to giggling tots.

Obnoxious? Absolutely, but this party was a long-time coming. This was the first time the whole gang has been in the same place in almost four years. In truth, the concert was a brief portion of the trip. As was the partying; we’re working grown-ups now, apparently. The Porsche was far and away the most glamorous portion of the trip. Bottle service, box seats, penthouse views, and culinary excursions? It was more like a few beers at home (we Ubered), general admission to the standing area, air mattresses, and late-night Detroit coney dogs.

Once we blew-out both vocal chords and eardrums at the concert, we used the Panamera as our ultra-luxe runabout while we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the greater Detroit metroplex. Having lived in the Motor City area for two years not long ago, I spent an hour and change cruising Woodward Ave., seeing storefronts and hangouts I thought I left behind when I moved out west.

This is a tremendously powerful vehicle. With a full battery, launch-control sprints can lead to crushing speeds that even a 911 Turbo would raise an eye at. Porsche claims 0-60 mph takes a fleeting 3.2 seconds, but real-world tests have proven it can clock-in at less than 3.0.  After a few launches down one of Michigan’s many tree-lined backroads, my three passengers were liquefied. “It’s like a roller coaster,” they all agreed.

Merging, overtaking, closing the gap, showing off—whatever you’re into, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has you covered to a shocking degree. This 5,093-pound sled has the guts and gumption to pick on supercars of any age, primarily thanks to the hi-power hybridized powertrain.

The majority of that power comes from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, putting out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. Augmenting that is an electric motor between the V-8 and the eight-speed PDK transmission, spitting out a further 136 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. When the two combine forces, 680 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque are on tap. Porsche is quick to point out this tech was more-or-less developed from the system found on the mighty 918 Spyder hypercar from a few years ago.

This hybrid system is quite an impressive bit of tech. The engine likes to shut off, even at speed, relying on the electric motor while coasting. If the battery is topped-off, you’ve got an EPA-estimated all-electric cruising range of 14 miles from that 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery, usable without burning dino-juice up to 86 mph. We ran into particularly nasty stop-and-go en-route to Ann Arbor, so e-mode was used to its full extend. No surprises here, it’s smooth and silent.

Thanks to one of Michigan’s frequent rainy spurts, a boatload of twisty backroad blasts were out of the question. Still, in the mostly arrow-straight environment in which I drove the Panamera, it felt as solid as a boulder, pushing through traffic and advancing down open roads with trademark Germanic confidence. It’s not nearly as engaging or scalpel-sharp as Porsche’s two-door offerings, but it isn’t designed to be. It can slip, slide, and carve with the best of them, but this supersonic limo is primarily aimed at banking executive and CEO types rather than track-day junkies.

Inside, this power-player attitude really shows. The cockpit is awash with leather and metal, contrasted by a glossy haptic-touch center console. This panel is just one itty-bitty piece of the Panamera’s incredible tech package; if anything, it’s too clever for its own good. The haptic-clickable center buttons are nice, but considering you’re forced to adjust the center A/C vents with a drag-and-drop touch-screen interface, I might have appreciated a simpler, less-convoluted system. But I’m not the target demographic here. My buddies were more impressed—they had a ball futzing with the myriad interfaces and screens, especially in the executive rear seats with infotainment embedded in the center console.

Of course, all this coddling and techno-wizardry comes at a price. Aside from the extended wheelbase Executive variant, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is at the top of the Panamera heap, only losing out in sticker heft to some 911 Turbo and GT products. Starting at $187,250, this handsome Night Blue Metallic Panamera carried a $201,540 tag, inflated thanks to optional extras like eight-way power rear seats, a $5,370 Assistance package, and four-zone climate control.

It’s hard to pick a more impressive executive sedan than the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. It’s coddling, loaded with tech, and fast enough to make your executive assistant lose his/her Lobster Thermidor lunch. Above all else, it’s perfect for playing poseur with some of your best friends.

ON SALE Now
PRICE $185,450/$201,540 (base)/(as tested)
ENGINE 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/ 550 hp @ 5,750 – 6,000 rpm, 567 lb-ft @ 1,960 – 4,500 rpm, plus electric motor / 136 hp @ 2,800 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 100 – 2,300 rpm; 680 hp, 626 lb-ft combined
TRANSMISSION 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 21 mpg combined, 49 mpge combined
L x W x H 198.8 x 85.2 x 56.2 in
WHEELBASE 116.1 in
WEIGHT 5,093 lb
0-60 MPH 3.2 sec
TOP SPEED 192 mph

Buying Guide
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EPA MPG:

23 City / 29 Hwy

Horse Power:

416 @ 5500

Torque:

435 @ 1250