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By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 78
The Panamera is a luxury five-door sportscar that, in the plug-in hybrid 'S E-Hybrid' form that Porsche sold between 2014 and 2016, was targeted at a very unique kind of customer. If you can afford a well looked after example of this eco-friendly business express, then the idea of a four-seat, 167mph Porsche that returns over 91mpg and emits just 71g/km of carbon dioxide may be tempting indeed. This is a car like no other from its era.
Modelsword count: 4
5dr saloon (3.0 hybrid)
Historyword count: 375
It took Porsche a long time to develop hybrid power but when they did so, they did a thorough job. We first saw a petrol/electric engine in one of the brand's models in the Panamera S Hybrid of 2011, but this was a derivative that didn't really make economic sense for the majority of European customers, either to buy or to run. However, when Porsche facelifted the first generation Panamera range in 2013, they brought us something much better - a plug-in version of that car, the Panamera S E-Hybrid model that we're going to look at here as a potential used buy. At its launch, this was billed as the most economical Porsche of all time and its designers claimed it to be the most efficient car you could buy back in 2013. Yes really. You might find that difficult to credit given that we're talking here of a two tonne Grand Touring five-door sportscar powered by a supercharged 3.0-litre six cylinder petrol engine and capable of nearly 170mph. But it's just a question of adjusting your frame of reference. Consider this question from the point of view of how much horsepower you get for every gramme of CO2 your car emits and the results you'd expect are turned on their head. Back in 2013, an apparently eco-conscious car like Toyota's Prius hybrid produced 98bhp and emitted 89g/km of CO2 - that's just 1.1bhp per g/km. In contrast, this Panamera, with 416bhp and emissions as low as 71g/km, worked its engine for an impressive 5.9bhp for every gramme of carbon dioxide emitted. Which, from Porsche's perspective at least, made it unchallenged on this basis as the most efficient production car on sale to British buyers at the time of this model's launch. This really was a very different proposition from the original Hybrid Panamera with its ancient nickel metal hydride battery, feeble electric motor and pathetically small electric-only driving range. Buyers of this improved S E-Hybrid model could plug this car into the mains, go five times as far on electric-only power and enjoy far more spirited performance, yet do all that with supermini-style running costs. As Porsche puts it, these are 'thrilling contradictions'. Let's see if this car can deliver on its claims.
What You Getword count: 607
Shut your eyes, picture what a four-door Porsche 911 sports coupe might look like and you won't be a million miles away from the reality of this Panamera. It's an unusual look that won't be to everyone's taste, but the low, lean shape certainly does grow on you. The raised profile of the front wings is of course a brand trademark, but it can't in this case be matched by the kind of flat bonnet you'd get in one of the company's sportscars because here of course, the engine must be in the front, hence the power bulge. As ever, this model takes Luxury saloon segment conventionality and puts it through the paper shreader. Cars of this kind aren't supposed to be hatchbacks, nor are they supposed to only offer four seats. This one though, thinks differently, just as Porsche hopes its buyers will. These people will certainly be folk who liked the original version of this car, for this revised first generation model looks hardly any different - at least at first glance. Peer a little closer though and the differences become clearer. At the front, there are larger air intakes that are even bigger on the V8 models, as well as smarter bumpers and sleeker bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights. Move to the side and owners of the original MK1 design might note the more swept-back windscreen that extends the silhouette, the sharper profile lines and larger glass area. Asian markets got a long wheelbase bodyshape but Porsche never thought there'd be enough take-up for it here. As usual, colour-contrasting brake callipers give away the nature of the engine beating beneath the sculpted bonnet. At the rear, Porsche aimed for a lower stance and a wider look by widening the rear screen, increasing the size of the LED light clusters and lowering the number plate to a position just above the level of the model-specific tailpipes. As with the original model, the detailing is superb: take the way the wider rear spoiler opens upwards and outwards in two parts - a beautiful touch. And inside? Well if you think that the exterior changes made to his post-2013 model are difficult to spot, you'll find it even harder to notice any of the updates made to the driver-centric cockpit. Which mean that if you're used to the original version of this design, you'll be provided with more of the same - a Porsche sportscar that also happens to be a super-luxury saloon. Which means that, as before, the low-slung seating layout with its perfect positioning and almost infinite adjustability really is quite similar to a 911's, while the tall centre console that runs down the middle of the cabin hems you comfortably in, fighter aircraft cockpit-style. It extends right to the back of the car, firmly defining this car as a four-seater and enabling the designers to create purpose-built sports chairs at the back rather than an indented bench upon which at higher cornering speeds, occupants would be quickly rolling about. Back here, these aren't the compromised pews you'd expect to find in something professing to be a four-door sportscar, instead offering standards of head and legroom not really that far off Mercedes S-Class or a BMW 7 Series saloons. The seats are even positioned a little more centrally than those ahead, so you get a decent view of the action going on up-front. As you might expect, this E-Hybrid version really suffers in practicality terms, given that its battery pack is housed beneath the boot floor. Here, you'll have only 335-litres to play with - or 1,153-litres if you flatten the rear seats.
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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen
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