Some would say that elongating the midsection of an already controversial body style would produce a dachshund-esque abomination, but the 4S Executive takes on a sporty Autobahn limo personality of its own that’s more appealing than we might have thought possible. The premium on this sort of individuality? $125,600 to start.
Panamera S E-Hybrid
As we explored the Panamera S E-Hybrid in detail in the last issue, we’ll offer just a brief summary of this extensively reengineered parallel hybrid that can be externally recharged with either 240- or 120-volt household current. A 9.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack replaces the previous S Hybrid’s nickel-metal hydride batteries, offering more than five times the capacity and enabling an electric-only top speed of 84 mph and range estimated to be greater than 20 miles. In concert with the supercharged 3.0-liter gasoline engine, total system output is 416 hp, with 95 hp provided by the electric motor, more than double the previous motor’s 47 hp. With both gas and electric systems at full boil, the S E-Hybrid can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 sec. (0.5 sec. quicker than the previous model) and reach a top speed of 167 mph.
The driving experience is that of a seamless transition from electric to gasoline power. Three driver-selectable modes can be utilized: E-Power for full electric operation, which is the default mode on start-up; E-Charge mode where the battery can be completely recharged by the gasoline engine in roughly 28 to 37 miles of driving; and Sport mode, where both drive systems are used in concert for maximum performance.
The E-Power mode delivers a driving experience quite different than most other parallel hybrids that use a planetary CVT-type gearbox. The S E-Hybrid uses a more conventional Aisin-supplied 8-speed automatic (the only non-PDK transmission in the Panamera lineup) with the motor situated in the bell housing, engaged when needed with a dry clutch. So instead of what feels like a single-speed transmission of power with the CVT’s inherent motor-boating sensation of road speed trying to catch up with engine speed, the S E-Hybrid runs up through its gears in a conventional, linear and highly satisfying way.
Acid Green brake calipers that practically glow in the dark, like-hued exterior badging and a charge-port door in the left rear side panel announce the S E-Hybrid to the world. Pricing starts at $99,000.