Sleek and sporty Panamera S E-Hybrid offers excellent fuel economy

Posted Friday, Jul. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Porsche introduced Panamera in 2010, an all-new premium sedan designed for sporty performance with the comfort and roominess of a luxury sedan and best-in-class fuel efficiency.

For 2012, Porsche introduced a plug-in hybrid version, the Panamera S e-Hybrid. It's is a parallel plug-in hybrid, meaning that it will run on gasoline, electricity or a combination of the two.

Prices for the e-Hybrid start at $99,000 (plus $995 freight), with options and packages added individually.

My tester, the 2014 model, had a total sticker of $130,335, including freight and options.

It came with an innovative 9.4 kWh lithium-ion high-voltage battery, which stores more energy. It can be recharged in approximately 2.5 hours, using either the charging cable connected to a 240-volt outlet, brake energy recovery while driving, or via the gasoline engine.

Of course, the e-Hybrid comes with universal charging equipment developed by Porsche for charging at home or on the road. Charging stations are popping up everywhere as plug-in hybrids become more common. The A/C charger allows the vehicle to be charged at any available household outlet.

New for 2014, the engine switches off when the brake pedal is pressed in anticipation of a stop, leaving all electrical systems operational and restarting automatically if energy is need for the auxiliary equipment.

According to Porsche, using gasoline and electricity together could result in 50 miles per gallon equivalent, and using gasoline only could result in 25 mpg combined highway/ city. For this review, I averaged 23.4, according to the onboard computer.

The gasoline engine produces a hefty 333 horsepower, the electric engine produces 95 horsepower, and together they produce 416 mighty horsepower. The car will go from zero-60 mph in 5.2 seconds. I didn't check that myself, but the power was there when I put my foot down.

My Panamera had options totaling $30,340, from $150 for a retractable/removable luggage compartment cover to $4,700 for a Premium Package Plus.

The Plus package brought front and rear heated seats; front and rear ParkAssist with back-up camera; power seats with memory; vehicle locking/unlocking, and engine start without active use of the key; lane-change assist; front seat ventilation with three levels; four-zone climate control with digital display, sunlight sensor (automatic adjustment of airflow and temperature for each seat; carbon filter and quality sensor are standard); personalized memory functions with key recognition; windshield mist sensor; and 14-way power front seats (backrest, height, fore/aft, inclination, cushion depth, lumbar support) with memory for position, steering column, side mirrors, lights, wipers, climate control, door lock, instrument cluster and PCM (Porsche communication management).

The Panamera S e-Hybrid comes with an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive and coasting function. Coasting function disconnects the engine from the transmission and switches the engine off to make maximum use of the vehicle's momentum for longer coasting distance and a noticeable reduction in fuel consumption. This is rather startling the first time it happens, as you can be driving along at 75 mph and the tachometer goes to zero when you let off the gas.

While the vehicle is operating on electricity (with quiet, emission-free driving up to approximately 83 mph), the gasoline engine is available in response to the driver pressing the accelerator beyond a specific point (kick-down), such as during merging, overtaking or emergency evasion.

Three driving modes are available: E-Power, E-Charge and Sport.

E-Power (electric driving, using no fuel) is automatic and best for driving around the neighborhood or city.

The E-Charge mode is activated by pressing a button. It charges the high-voltage battery while driving the gasoline engine, best for sustained driving on the highway.

Sport mode boost kicks in when the accelerator reaches 80 percent, allowing the gasoline engine and electric motor to work together for maximum performance.

A Sport Chrono package for $1,505 included a digital and analog stopwatch, Sport Plus button, acceleration display and lap-time display. Sport Plus provides a lower, stiffer suspension and steering. Lap timing, shorter shift times, and optimum acceleration from a standing start are especially exciting for the enthusiast.

My Panamera was Mahogany Metallic ($790) with Luxor Beige leather interior ($3,666), heated steering wheel ($270), lane departure warning ($630), front seat cooling ($1,680), interior lighting package ($605), front and rear park assist with surround view cameras ($1,505), telephone module with wireless handset ($930), voice control ($595), auxiliary cabin conditioning (heat and cool the passenger compartment without having the gasoline engine running, $1,570), thermal and noise insulated glass ($1,240), soft-close doors ($770), LED interior lighting ($845), leather key pouch ($165), body color key ($335; two copies), body color interior package ($2,570, dash trim, front center console trim, front and rear door trim, rear door speaker trim, rear center console storage compartment lid/cupholder cover), 20-inch Panamera Sport wheels (with standard acid green brake calipers showing through, $3,305), and illuminated brushed-aluminum door-sill guards ($1,100).

Porsche offers lots of exterior colors, 10 wheel styles/sizes and several interior combinations -- some single color, some two-tone -- and many more options than those included on my tester.

Panamera's fully galvanized lightweight body has side-impact protection in the doors, three-point seat belts with pre-tensioners front and rear, child-seat mounts for rear seats; stability management with antilock braking; alarm system with immobilizer; and tire sealing compound with electric air compressor.

Standard features include LED daytime running lights and taillights, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, multifunction tilt/telescopic steering wheel, five cupholders (two pop out above the glove box), navigation with seven-inch color touch screen, 11 speakers (external amplifier, 235 watts), tilt/slide moonroof with opaque fabric cover, water-repellent side windows with chrome-look trim, two-way adaptive rear spoiler, dual twin-tube tailpipes, power trunk lid, and a locking glove box with air conditioning.

The luggage compartment cover lifts up when the trunk lid is raised unless it is retracted to the area behind the rear seats or removed. The compartment will hold 11.8 cubic feet of luggage or other things with the seatbacks up, and 44.1 cubic feet of stuff (luggage, DIY materials, camping equipment, golf bags, and more) with the seatbacks folded.

The cargo area is a little narrow, but you probably wouldn't be hauling plywood anyway. The headrests are integrated into the seatbacks and can't be removed or adjusted, meaning the front seats have to be moved forward to accommodate the folded seatback.

The battery is stowed behind the driver's side rear wheel in a covered cubby in the wall and takes up no cargo area. The tire repair kit is similarly stowed behind the passenger's side rear wheel.

Four can ride rather comfortably. The seats (front and rear) were not as plush as one would expect and legroom in the back was limited -- 33.3 inches as compared with 41.9 inches in the front. The sloped roof/trunk also limited headroom in the back. The sloped roof is very attractive from the outside, however.

Porsche's standard navigation is complicated and confusing at first, with some functions difficult to find without referring to the owner's manual.

The Panamera is sleek and sporty looking, comfortable enough for road trips with enough room for necessities, fun to drive (especially in sport mode), and offers excellent fuel economy with the proper techniques (probably not in sport mode).

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams appear weekly in the Star-Telegram. Contact her at .

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