New Car: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

Volkswagen's corporate parts bin is a great resource, and every brand gets to borrow from it. This includes Porsche, which took the easy route of adding a gas-electric version to the Panamera lineup by performing a little hybrid-transplant surgery. The result, the 2012 Panamera S hybrid, makes its debut at the 2011 Geneva show.

The combination of a supercharged, direct-injected 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor is not only used in the Cayenne, but also in the Volkswagen Touareg hybrid; the 333-hp gasoline engine is an Audi unit that, in different states of tune, can also be found sans hybrid tech in the S4, S5 convertible, A6, and Q7. With the assistance of a 47-hp electric motor, total power reaches 380 hp, channeled here to the rear wheels only through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All other Panameras sold in the U.S. come with a ZF-supplied seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, while Europeans also can choose a six-speed manual.

Porsche believes the Panamera hybrid's performance is good enough to justify adding the "S" badge. In reality, however, its performance may be closer to that of the standard, V-6–powered Panamera. With the hybrid, Porsche claims a 0-to-62-mph time of 6.0 seconds; top speed is an ungoverned 168 mph. The last 300-hp base Panamera we tested, equipped with the PDK and aided by all-wheel drive, hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and went on to a top speed of 160 mph. The corresponding data for the 400-hp, V-8–powered Panamera S: 4.7 seconds and 174 mph. That said, Porsche tends to conservatively estimate performance, but the lack of the fast-acting PDK transmission and all-wheel drive likely will hamper the hybrid’s launch.

Despite all of the power, the hybrid should shine in terms of fuel consumption: It is rated at a miserly 35 mpg in the European cycle (Panamera V-6: 25 mpg; Panamera S: 22 mpg). That's with specially developed tires, but even with regular rubber, the Panamera S hybrid is rated at 33 mpg in Europe.

What's a hybrid without the option to drive in full-electric mode? Not much, as buyers of the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid are experiencing (or, rather, not experiencing). But the Panamera won't disappoint: You can "sail", i.e. coast with the gasoline engine completely switched off, at up to 103 mph (tell the cop you were sailing). That will certainly save fuel, but the range on the electric motor alone is a mere 1.25 miles.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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