If you can’t afford £660,000 for the Porsche 918 Spyder (and let’s face it, not many people can), then worry not – the company’s groundbreaking plug-in hybrid technology is already available in the facelifted Panamera S E-hybrid. This was our first chance to test the S E-hybrid on traffic-clogged UK roads.
With the Mercedes S500 Hybrid waiting in the wings, environmentally conscious executives will soon be spoiled for choice when it comes to prestigious company cars with world-beating running costs.
The two models share a 5.5-second 0-62mph time; however, the Porsche will go on to 167mph, giving it autobahn bragging rights over its German rival, which is limited to 155mph.
These cars share similar powertrains, too; the Panamera gets a supercharged V6 and 94bhp electric motor for a combined output of 410bhp at 5,500rpm. Its engine sounds good, with a loud metallic growl from the quad exhausts when you’re driving hard. However, the E-hybrid performs its best tricks when the engine is off.
Charge it via the mains before leaving home and the car will set off silently, before taking you up to 20 miles on battery power. The previous Panamera Hybrid would fire its combustion engine if you so much as breathed on the throttle, but in this model electric progress is fast and seamless, and it’ll happily cruise at 70mph without rousing the V6 into life.
Refinement is impressive, too, with the switch between the two power sources happening almost imperceptibly – even if the lack of fanfare on start-up does rob you of the aural drama you’d normally associate with Porsche ownership.
Despite smaller 18-inch wheels the ride feels a little firmer thanks to the extra weight, and the low-rolling-resistance tyres aren’t as grippy as you might expect. The handling suffers slightly and the responses from the eight-speed Tiptronic box aren’t as immediate as in a PDK-equipped model.
Finally, beware that Porsche’s 91.1mpg and 71g/km claims are ambitious. Use petrol power only, and you’re more likely to see low-30s economy on long journeys.