Within the subsequent few months, Porsche goes to launch the Mission E, a smooth and highly effective electrical automobile which may simply be essentially the most competitors the Tesla Mannequin S can have confronted so far. Nevertheless, the corporate has been electrifying a few of its vary for a while now.
We’ll have to attend some time for higher battery tech earlier than we get a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) 911, Boxster, or Cayman, however Porsche’s Panamera and Cayenne vary can be found now with a facet serving to of lithium-ion. The primary PHEV Porsche appeared in 2014 within the second-generation Cayenne. It impressed us after we examined it final 12 months, beating much less highly effective plug-in SUVs from BMW and Volvo when it got here to gasoline financial system and driving enjoyable. However the boffins in Stuttgart have been tinkering with their PHEV tech, including extra kWh, horsepower, torque, and usually refining all of the software program and management electronics that make the whole lot work. They’ve accomplished a fantastic job, if our time testing the $104,000 Panamera Four E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is something to go by.
Porsche invented the hybrid?
Whenever you assume Porsche, you in all probability image a 911, the rear-engined sports activities automobile now in its 55th year of production. Or possibly the title calls to thoughts Steve McQueen racing down the Mulsanne Straight in a blue-and-orange blur. However did you additionally know the corporate invented the hybrid car again in 1900? The Lohner-Porsche Blended Hybrid—also called “Semper Vivus”—was one in every of Ferdinand Porsche’s first creations, utilizing a pair of single-cylinder engines coupled to 2.5kW turbines that fed energy into a large battery pack. The expertise did not catch on on the time, however quick ahead greater than a century and in the present day the corporate continues to be a pacesetter in hybrid expertise.
In 2010, it launched the Cayenne S Hybrid, which added some nickel-metal hydride batteries to the massive off-roader. That very same 12 months, it experimented with a mechanical flywheel as an power retailer within the 911 GT3 R race automobile, expertise that then went on for use by Audi’s diesel-powered Le Mans racers. When it was time for Porsche itself to return to Le Mans with the 919 Hybrid, the corporate went a extra standard route, combining a turbocharged V4 gasoline engine with two hybrid programs powered by an array of lithium-ion cells. An analogous strategy was used for its 918 Spyder, which featured a V8 engine derived from the RS Spyder race automobile, 6.8kWh of lithium-ion storage, and a price ticket that would not depart a whole lot of change from 1,000,000 bucks.
As is the best way within the automotive world, that expertise has been trickling right down to Porsche’s mass-production vary. The present 911 and 718 sports activities vehicles characteristic a lot of the same engine technology because the 919 Hybrid’s inside combustion engine, as an illustration. For now, Porsche is holding again from hybridizing its sports activities vehicles, citing weight and measurement as a motive to carry off for the promise of stable state batteries. Nevertheless it has no such reticence in the case of including some juice to its four-door vary. The third-generation Cayenne SUV has a PHEV variant coming—a few of our pals at different publications had been off driving it in Germany final week, actually, however it’s but to go on sale right here within the US.
For now, you should purchase a number of completely different PHEV Panameras, relying on whether or not you need the common sedan model or the Sport Turismo physique model we examined right here. There’s additionally a alternative of two powertrains. Over in Europe, the place it went on sale in June 2017, the E-Hybrid variations now account for 60 p.c of all Porsche Panamera gross sales. We bought the mannequin a lot later within the US, however, if I am studying the gross sales figures proper, in April it made up a couple of third of Panamera gross sales. A overview of the full-fat, 680hp Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid must wait just a few extra weeks, so in the present day we’re simply going to debate the “lesser” Four E-Hybrid.
Beneath the pores and skin
The inner combustion facet of issues is courtesy of a 2.9L direct-injection twin-turbo V6. This supplies the Panamera Four E-Hybrid with 330hp (246kW) and 331ft-lbs (450Nm)—primarily the identical because the non-hybrid 3.0L V6-powered Panamera 4. Between the engine and an eight-speed model of dual-clutch gearbox (Porsche Doppelkupplung, or PDK) is an electrical motor rated at 136hp (100kW) and 295ft-lbs (400NM). It is price noting that the overall energy and torque output for the powertrain is rather less than the sum of its components, however 462hp (345kW) and 516ft-lbs (700Nm) continues to be greater than sufficient for a automobile with a curb weight of 4,828lbs (2,190kg). The electrical motor is a improvement of the one within the older Cayenne hybrid we examined, and the older system’s electro-hydraulic inside combustion engine decoupler has been changed by an electromechanical system that gives shorter response instances.
As you would possibly anticipate, the E-Hybrid makes use of liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries, positioned behind the rear seats and beneath the ground of the trunk. The pack is identical weight as within the earlier era of Panamera PHEV, however it’s now 14.1kWh (versus 9.4kWh). Charging from empty to full takes 12 hours at 120V or three hours with a 240V degree 2 charger for those who spec the 7.2kW onboard charger (an $840 possibility). Porsche claims 31 miles (50km) of electric-only vary, though that is based mostly on Europe’s NEDC cycle. The EPA, which appears to get a lot nearer to real-world EV vary, figures the Panamera Four E-Hybrid at 16 miles (26km) with a mixed 46mpge, or 22mpg when utilizing gasoline alone.
As the electrical motor is positioned upstream of the gearbox, it should ship energy and torque to—and get well kinetic power below deceleration from—all 4 wheels (the “4” in Panamera Four E-Hybrid means all-wheel drive) in comparison with PHEVs just like the BMW i8 or Volvo XC90, which use their inside combustion engines to energy one axle and their electrical motors to energy the opposite. Distribution of the powertrain’s energy and torque to the wheels is dealt with by the Porsche Traction Administration system, one in every of an array of digital programs that management the Panamera. It sends most of it to the rear wheels by default, however the automobile can ship 100 p.c of obtainable torque to both axle if highway circumstances necessitate. (A torque-vectoring rear differential can also be accessible as an possibility, though our check automobile wasn’t fitted with one.)
The suspension is a double-wishbone association with adaptive air suspension at every nook. Our check Panamera was additionally outfitted with rear-axle steering ($1,620), which boosts cornering stability at larger speeds by turning the rear wheels in the identical course because the entrance, successfully rising the wheelbase. At low speeds, it boosts maneuverability by delivering the wrong way to the entrance wheels, successfully decreasing the wheelbase. All Panamera Four E-Hybrid Sport Turismos additionally get the Sport Chrono package deal as commonplace. That is most evident from the stopwatch mounted atop the dashboard, however this package deal additionally provides you entry to Sport Plus mode, extra on which shortly.
Itemizing picture by Jonathan Gitlin