Given the amount of Panameras you see on the roads here, you have to conclude that Porsche’s luxury family-moving saloon was a sizeable driver in the company’s significant rise in sales in the region last year. How heavily environmental concerns weighed on buyers’ minds while handing over their hard-earned cash – or if anybody at all decided against it in favour of holding out for an all-wheel greener version – is another debate entirely.
But here we are, with the new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, a triple-whammy for those who want the prestige of being a Porsche owner, yet have the pesky consideration of ferrying children around – and also want a habitable world for said next generation to inherit. It’s a noble goal, if nothing else.
My test car’s luminous green brake callipers and logo outlines make no bones about the colour of the E-Hybrid’s heart. Beyond that, you would be hard-pressed to spot exterior differences from front or behind. There’s also an extended wheelbase Executive model, which is a mite longer and wider, although I’m in the regular-wheelbase version.
Porsche claims the 4 E-Hybrid benefits from know-how from the eye-wateringly quick 918 Spyder, but unsurprisingly, considering it’s half a tonne heavier, you shouldn’t be expecting to hit 100mph in the time it takes to say the eco-friendly Panamera’s full name. It’s no slouch on paper, hitting that mark in 4.6 seconds via its electric-aided boost function, although given its bulk, there’s an illusion of idling its way up to speed – 330hp is not much more than adequate in a car of such dimensions, when you might reasonably expect more power, although the 700Nm of torque is rather more noteworthy.
In a world where Tesla is offering 500-kilometre-plus ranges coupled with incredible performance, plug-in hybrids are increasingly feeling like a half measure. And that’s accentuated by the full-electric capability of 25km to 51km. I barely make it halfway in my drive between my hotel in the suburbs of Cape Town, in the shadow of Table Mountain, to the Killarney Raceway, less than 30km away, before the voltage has dried up, which I would venture makes it almost pointless. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but it’s more of a tentative first step on the road trip towards not destroying our planet than an actual viable solution. The projected fuel consumption is 2.5L per 100km, though, which isn’t to be sniffed at.
The Panamera remains a supremely comfortable ride, with a field of cows going into endless leather trim. The only hiccup is that the rear video screen on the passenger side can seriously impede visibility 45 degrees behind the driver’s eye at T-junctions. Admittedly, this is a car more likely than most Porsches to involve other occupants, but still, you shouldn’t need to be requesting hazard warnings from your front-seat passenger in a car of this standing.
There’s one overriding factor to consider, however: the recent reveal of the new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, which looks to have stolen the range’s thunder, with a restyled, better-looking back end, and wielding 462hp. If you’re already shelling out Dh457,400, as you will for the 4 E-Hybrid, I would suggest that the additional Dh15,500 required to secure the Sport Turismo represents relative pocket change.
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