2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid review: Pure plug-in pleasure - Roadshow
If you’re interested in the Porsche Panamera, you’re in luck. We’ve sampled quite a few recently, from the base version to the midgrade 4S E-Hybrid to the V8-powered GTS to the model featured here: the upper-echelon Turbo S E-Hybrid. At $191,150 to start (including $1,350 for destination) it’s one of the most expensive Panameras you can buy. But yowza, you get a lot for your money.
2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
- Massive amounts of power
- Outstanding handling
- Practical body style
- Frustrating tech
- Lack of standard driving aids
- No Android Auto for now
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, pairing a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with a 100-kilowatt electric motor. All told, this car makes 690 horsepower and 641 pound-feet of torque — and with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, Porsche says this big PHEV can accelerate to 60 mph in a staggering 3 seconds flat.
The E-Hybrid part of the equation involves a 17.9-kilowatt-hour battery that the EPA says should be good for about 17 miles of electric range. When you start the Panamera, it defaults to Hybrid Auto, which relies on electric power most of the time unless the battery needs to be charged, or I demand more power. If there’s enough juice in the battery, I can switch to a fully electric mode which is perfect for running errands around town, though it’s worth noting the Panamera can operate in EV mode at speeds up to 87 mph.
Getting up to speed, the Panamera takes off like a shot, pushing my head back and making my tummy do flip-flops. Sport Plus mode ensures that the engine always stays on to accommodate my need for instant speed and the Panamera’s suspension stiffens up to provide excellent composure while cornering. The Turbo S E-Hybrid weighs over 1,000 pounds more than the base Panamera, but it still feels every bit as lithe and nimble. The standard rear-axle steering definitely helps, giving the rear wheels a bit of a nudge in the direction I’m turning. Heck, I almost forget I’m in a hybrid since Sport Plus mode opens the exhaust to let that V8 roar. Yeah, buddy, this is my kind of hybrid.
Huge carbon ceramic brakes keep the Turbo S E-Hybrid in check, with 16.5-inch front rotors with 10-piston Acid Green-painted calipers up front, and smaller 16-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers at the rear. These stoppers slow me down confidently before each turn while the transmission reads my mind and downshifts under braking so I have all the power I need on corner exit. My tester’s 21-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, which grip like the business. It’s pure driving joy.
Unfortunately, the brakes aren’t so great at slower speeds in town. The stopping force isn’t linear and I feel like I’m tossing my passenger forward with my uneven, jerky braking. “It’s the car, I swear!” The rest of the time, however, the Panamera’s standard drive mode provides a supple ride, and should I need to make a quick pass, the Sport Response button gives me 20 seconds of all-she’s-got boost without needing to change into Sport or Sport Plus.
When it comes time to charge, I’m sure most buyers will rely on Level 2 home chargers or public stations. But if you do need to use the provided plug to charge from a standard home outlet, be prepared for quite a process. To plug in, the charger requires you to slightly open the cover to access the control unit and insert the plug until you feel resistance. Then you open the cover all the way and plug all the way in. Then you secure it with a screw. The fact that I have to open the driver’s manual just to figure out how the plug works is kind of ridiculous. Shouldn’t I just be able to, you know, plug it in? At any rate, at a public Level 2 station the Panamera’s battery is fully charged in about 2.5 hours.
At the end of my week with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid I’ve driven just shy of 500 miles with an average fuel consumption of 21.9 mpg. The EPA rates the Turbo S E-Hybrid at 19 mpg combined, so I’m ahead of the game. A full 75.3 miles of that driving was done under electric power, at an average of 0.3 kWh per mile. The EPA rates the Turbo S E-Hybrid at 48 mpge, or 70 kWh per 100 miles. My math tells me I’ve used 30 kWh to go 100 miles, which is great.
You can check out my base Panamera review for detailed thoughts about the interior and despite a $100,000 price difference, the Turbo S E-Hybrid’s cabin isn’t much different. The front and rear seats are heated but my tester has the optional ($840) ventilated chairs. There’s leather everywhere and the interior has all the quality and craftsmanship you’d expect from a Porsche.
Problems? This car lacks a lot of standard driver-assistance features, the infotainment setup is somewhat difficult to use, the cup holders are terrible and the only way to control the center air vents is through the touchscreen system.
The Porsche Panamera is available in no fewer than 21 trim levels and each of those has a veritable crap-ton of options. Personally, I’d probably just stick with the less-expensive Panamera 4S E-Hybrid — Sport Turismo, duh — as it has more than enough power with all the same luxury and tech. It’s also way less expensive than my tester, which comes in at $206,860 including destination.
Still, it’s hard to fault a car that does it all like the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. It has tons of power, the practicality of a hatchback and usable rear seats, making it a sports car for folks with common sense. Sure, there are better values to be had in the luxury space, but none of them can touch the Porsche’s performance.