Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo: Green performer

By JAY WONG | 31 May 2019


March came and we crossed into Singapore to experience one of Porsche's finest — the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

We've always enjoyed the luxurious charm a Panamera has to offer. It was even more so with the introduction of the Sport Turismo version, what with greater headroom at the rear.

Like all Porsches, there is always the element of "aggressive fun", thanks to its legendary 911 range.

Such description is normally NOT associated with PHEVs - at least until now.

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Back in Malaysia, this Stuttgarter "wagon-like limo" costs RM1,125,000 with a PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung - Porsche dual-clutch) after duties and before adding preferred options), so it'd better be worth the money.

This particular variant for our short day drive around Singapore is considered the mid-range variant in Malaysia in terms of pricing and sits above the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo but below the more powerful Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.

Under this Panamera's hood lies a 2.9-litre (2,894cc) twin-turbo V6 engine with 330PS/450Nm which works in conjunction with a 136PS/400Nm electric motor that draws its charge from a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery for a system output of 462hp and 700Nm.

This Panamera is about 310kg heavier than its combustion-only brethren, putting its kerb weight at around 2,200kg. Heavy yes, but did it hamper the PHEV's performance?

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We drove through the city centre before heading towards the fringes of the island state. Being around the busy Orchard Road area, it seemed appropriate to put the Panamera in E-Power mode which makes it run purely on electricity.

Other Hybrid modes include Hybrid Auto (default), E-Charge (charging the battery via engine power) and E-Hold (helps keep the battery at a particular charge level).

The battery had roughly 80% charge left in it and with ambient temperature close to 40-degree Celsius, the air-conditioner was working hard to keep the afternoon heat from seeping into the cabin.

We managed to squeeze a range of about 21km, which isn't impressive but it's adequate by today's PHEV performance. Still, the E-Power mode helps the driver save the fuel for some "play time" — probably on our side of the Causeway.

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In theory, considering Singapore's small size, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo owner should be able to get through extended periods of time without having to refuel so long as he practises diligent route planning and has a wall box to keep the battery well-charged.

When the battery charge is depleted, the combustion engine awakens, marked by an audible exhaust note and a sudden spike in the rev counter to around 2,000rpm to immediately meet power demands.

Unfortunately, with all this power, there wasn't enough tarmac to unleash it on. Sure, there were some wonderful straights and a few areas that offered an interesting winding experience, but these quickly become short-lived.

With the battery drained and the road nearly devoid of traffic, it was obvious we needed to flicked on the Sport mode. We were keen to see how well its added 310kg, consisting of an electric motor, battery and other essentials, affected its behaviour out on the road.

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The sumptuous torque available makes the car feel effortless when getting off the line.

The cabin's controls are beautifully glossy until someone presses a button and leaves a fingerprint on it.

Rear-seated passengers will enjoy greater headroom but because of the electric motor, the boot has lost 95 litres of space to 425 litres.

The car felt planted when cornering and it takes directional changes like a champ, thanks to the 21-inch wheels with sticky and staggered 275/35 (front) and 315/30 (rear) Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

The front end of the car wants to stay in contact with the road. Combined that with the optional four-wheel steering system, the rear is highly subservient to the front end and us well-behaved as the PHEV is man-handled.

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Porsche has managed to mask the car's added weight even when cornering hard.

Dial it up to Sport+ mode and the car sharpens up. The gearshifts are even more abrupt as the chassis and suspension stiffen up for a sportier drive that came at the expense of comfort.

Step down to Normal mode and the car regains its comfort-oriented composure in a Jekyll-and-Hyde persona switch. It's this talent that will stand the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo PHEV in good stead. It's comfortable enough to ferry statesmen, yet aggressive enough for a track battle.

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