We spent seven days with the 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid to find out if it’s worth the big mil. Here is what it was like…
I arrive at the Porsche Centre Dubai armed with a healthy dose of enthusiasm to pick up the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Having driven the car before I am keen to take it for an extended period of time. The last time I drove it I was staggered by the sheer pace of the thing and how the hybrid system is really not a gimmick at all.
Off we head to the basement parking where I get a rundown of the various features of the vehicle from the amiable sales assistant. Induction over, I am handed the key and the guys from Porsche Center politely stand by to wave me goodbye. However, despite having driven this Panamera, I still catch myself fumbling to find out whether the car has actually started or not as a little chime is the only giveaway that you’re ready to go. I figure that out, eventually.
Not much else is happening today. It’s a schlep to work and then a school run to pick my son up. He’s excited about the bright green brake callipers. He’s easily amused; but to be fair, he’s just seven.
Getting the car back into my underground parking is a bit of a derriere-clenching moment, because the entrance is as small as the Panamera is large. I do not plan to scrape any of the optional 21-inch Exclusive Design wheels because I’m pretty certain they aren’t cheap. I make it in, just.
It’s off to work and getting the Panamera out of my labyrinthine car park is an even more of a challenge. Once on the highway, I can get the hammer down and unleash the full fury of the combined 680 horsepower petrol and the electric wallop. This thing is fast. Like, compress-your-cranial-matter-against-the-inside-of-your-skull fast. Zero to 100km/h dissipates in 3.4 seconds and you hit high triple digits with alarming rapidity. I reach my destination in Barsha Heights, Dubai, pretty quickly, as you can probably imagine.
Meetings out of the way, it’s time for the school run again. The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid with its immense, lurid green brake calipers, as well as additional green detailing is drawing a lot of attention. I’m certain many onlookers are making character judgments, but this thing certainly turns heads that’s for sure.
Today, I have resolved to test the hybrid system and drive the car like a normal person would. By default, it starts in E-mode; if there is juice in the batteries that is. I whiz off quietly. The battery-o-meter says I have 30kms worth of pious driving range. This is almost never the case in any hybrid; the computers are almost always overly optimistic. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to make it to the office with electrons to spare.
This is quite possibly the cleverest hybrid system on the market bar none. Even when you’re in full-electric mode the batteries continue to charge every time you’re coasting or brake, as long as you drive under 120km/h.
Unlike most other hybrids it has a two-stage throttle, which means the petrol motor doesn’t awaken every time you as much as breathe too heavily on the accelerator pedal. With moderate pressure it remains in full-electric mode, press on and the petrol motor comes to life pummeling you into the seat back. And even when you’ve run out of electricity, the batteries continue to charge, which means every 10kms you drive on petrol you get about 60 percent worth of electrons back. It just works. This is a proper Jekyll and Hyde car.
Not much is happening today, again. So I decide to take the mega Panamera for a full-fledged strop outside of town. As a pinnacle of the Panamera line-up the Turbo S E-Hybrid is a bit of a mentalist. There are four driving modes, but the ones you really need to know about is the E-mode and the Sports+ mode. In Sports+ it belies its over two-tonne girth and charges from corner to corner with uncharacteristic urgency. You are certainly still aware of its substantial dimensions, as well as its substantial price tag (AED 960,970 for our tester with AED 147,170 worth of optional extras, 36 items to be precise) at all times though. This is not a car that I’d want to bend. But, my gosh, it gives you the courage to brake late, accelerate out of corners earlier and generally do things that would be considered bonkers in a large saloon, but you do them anyway. However, my guess is most Panamera buyers wouldn’t drive it in this manner. They should, it is immense fun.
Picking up a fellow car journo James Davison today for a little spin in the Panamera. He’s driven the standard Turbo on the international launch, but not the E-Hybrid. The conversation turns to the interior quality and we concur that the fit and finish is absolutely top-notch and fitting of a million-dirham vehicle. The ride quality is pretty good for a car that doesn’t lollop around corners, too. You could easily live with this thing every day without your spine moaning about it constantly.
We also agree that the electronically-adjustable centre air vents are a bit of a gimmick.
A bit of a spontaneous plan. I’m headed to Fujairah today for a break and the Panamera is the perfect GT for the job. It’s spacious, comfortable and devastatingly fast.
On the highway, it makes everyone jump out of the way as soon as it appears in their rear-view mirror; so its presence is undeniable. Along the way I have to finally stop off for fuel after nearly six days of driving, which is not so bad.
A quick fill-up and it’s back on the road, however, you have to be mindful of the throttle – the rate at which this thing gathers pace is alarming. One moment you’re in Dubai and the next you’ve run out out of land, reached the edge of the country and staring at the prospect of three million speeding tickets. Not literally, obviously.
At the resort I immediately get a prime valet spot with hordes of gawping Russian tourists whipping out their camera phones and snapping away. It makes you feel rather important, this car.
It’s been a relaxing day and the journey back is disappointing for two reason. One, it’s back to congested arteries of Dubai and second, my time with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is almost over.
I make the most out of the drive back – I shall say no further.
Time to say goodbye to the big Panamera. Headed to the showroom I give it one last bootful to experience the brutality of its acceleration and then immediately back off to cruise in electric mode. Its brawn is as impressive as its brains. Think of it as Dwayne Johnson with Stephen Hawking’s intellect and you’d be close. Never has a trite motoring-journalist remark about a car having two different personalities rung more true. It’s an extremely likeable thing, this Panamera. If you have a million dirhams to spend on a car, you really should give this a spin.
2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 | eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 680bhp at NA and 849Nm from NA | 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 310km/h | AED960,970 (as tested)