To understand exactly how deranged the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid really is you first have to remind yourself that Porsche has been building sports cars for 70 years, and supercars for more than 30. It has been knocking out fast road cars for longer than most Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs been alive. Nevertheless, this top-of-the-line Panamera - this luxurious almost-limousine, this plug-in hybrid with a 31-mile electric-only range - is the third most powerful road car Porsche has ever built.
It's walloping 671bhp and 627lb ft of torque come courtesy of a 4-litre twin-turbo V8, plus a 134bhp electric motor. You'll search high and low before finding another car that can crack 62mph in 3.4 seconds and also return 97.4mpg.
Before you can begin to deconstruct this car's driving behaviour you must grow accustomed to the savagery of its acceleration. With all that power and torque, not to mention its four-wheel drive traction, the five-door Porsche fires itself along the road so violently you won't have the metal capacity to think about anything other than keeping it between the white lines. The Turbo S E-Hybrid accelerates faster than some supercars. Eventually, though, you start to get a handle on it and begin to appreciate all the other things it does so well. Its ride quality, for instance. Rather than crash and thump along the road it glides serenely. The cabin is calm and peaceful at motorway speeds, too, so 20 miles slip away like 10 miles would in a normal car. Given its size and weight - at 2385kg the fastest Panamera is comfortably the heaviest, too - it is actually pretty capable on a twisting back road. Its real party piece, though, is its electric-only mode. Shut down that thumping V8 in the city and the Panamera zips along in near silence, punching away from traffic lights smartly enough to keep its nose ahead of the flow of traffic. The cabin is fantastically well-built and the infotainment system is clear and easy to use, but the Panamera isn't without its faults. How can it be faultless when it weighs so much? If you really wring the car out on a B-road, for instance, and use all the power and grip corner after corner, you feel the chassis straining to keep the heaving masses in check. There will be no such thing as a small accident in a Turbo S E-Hybrid.
Its second major weakness is its eye-watering cost. At £137,140 it is fearsomely expensive; £22,000 more costly than the petrol-only Panamera Turbo. The cheaper model is sweeter to drive, thanks to it being lighter by more than 300kg.
There is something so captivating about this car's split personality, though. Its furious acceleration on the one hand and its emissions-free electric mode on the other. You do need to be able to charge it via the mains frequently, be that at home or at work, otherwise you won't see much more than 25mpg. Keep those batteries juiced, however, and the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid the fuel-efficient luxury car that will outrun supercars.
|Engine/power unit||Twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, 3996cc, plus electric motor|
|Transmission||Eight-speed dual clutch, four-wheel drive|
|Fuel economy||97.4mpg (combined)|
|Electric range||31 miles|