Tesla Model S vs Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

28 Jan, 2014 9:45am

Tesla’s striking electric Model S luxury saloon takes on Porsche’s hybrid Panamera

If you thought electric cars were little more than tiny city runarounds, then think again. Ambitious American brand Tesla is aiming to redefine how we think about battery-powered vehicles.

Tesla Model S review

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid review  

Founded just 10 years ago, the company wants to engage affluent early adopters with desirable high-end electric cars. Its long-term aim is to emulate the Silicon Valley business model that’s seen tablets and smartphones go from being the must-have gadgets of the wealthy few to the mainstream big-sellers of today.

Firstly, the brand launched its Lotus Elise-based Roadster, and now there’s the stunning Model S luxury saloon. With a claimed 310-mile range and high performance, it promises to rewrite the rules. There have been 20,000 sold in the US, plus it’s the biggest-selling car in Norway. Right-hand-drive models arrive in the UK this March.

So can the Tesla Model S switch us on to a luxury performance EV? And how will it fare against the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in? This supersaloon boasts high- performance pedigree and eco-friendly credentials in equal measure. We put the pair head-to-head...


Weighing in

The Model S is just 5kg heavier than the Panamera S E-Hybrid. The Tesla’s battery forms the floorpan of the car in a rigid structure, lowering the centre of gravity. The Porsche’s much smaller battery is located below the boot floor and behind the fuel tank. Both cars benefit from near-50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.

Badge appeal

Tesla is virtually unknown in the UK right now, but in the US it’s already become a highly aspirational brand, with premium outlets and a trendy celebrity customer base. However, there’s no doubting the long-established prestige and reputation of the Porsche badge.

Charging options

While the full EV Tesla is at the mercy of charging point availability, the Porsche’s E-Charge mode allows you to recharge the battery on the move. Alternatively, if you do plug the Panamera in to the mains, it can be fully charged in around two-and-a-half hours. Porsche also offers a home charging unit and, in common with the Tesla, you can programme the car to charge at low-cost times or pre-warm the interior for you.

Future models?

Tesla will launch the Model X this year. It’s an SUV-inspired crossover based on the same floorpan and technology as the Model S. It’ll be the second car in the range now that Roadster production has ended.

1st place - Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid interior

The Porsche makes more sense for more people than the Tesla – for now. It has decent range and top speed in full-electric mode, yet it’s not totally reliant on charging points. It’s nearly as quick as the Model S, plus it handles better and has a plusher cabin. But it’s expensive to buy and costs more to run.

2nd place - Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S interior

Tesla's Model S is the most convincing electric car we’ve driven. It’s an astonishing achievement for a small company and if it fits your driving needs, it could save you thousands of pounds in running costs. But until charging infrastructure improves, its real-world appeal is limited, so it comes second.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Tesla Model S P85+
On-the-road price/total as tested £83,967/£93,733 £78,480/£87,530
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £39,800/47.4% N/A
Depreciation £44,167 N/A
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £890/£1,779 £0
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,641/£2,735 £0
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 50/£2,077/A/£0 50/£746/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £450/£520/£450 £1,800 (4yrs/50k)
Length/wheelbase 5,015/2,920mm 4,970/2,960mm
Height/width 1,418/1,931mm 1,445/1,964mm
Engine V6/2,995cc AC electric motor
Peak power  410/5,500 bhp/rpm 410bhp
Peak torque  590/1,250 Nm/rpm 600Nm
Transmission  8-spd tiptronic/RWD 1-spd fixed-gear/RWD
Full charge time/claimed range (miles) 80-litre fuel tank/1,625 23 hours*/310 
Boot capacity (seats up/down)  335/1,153litres 894^/1,645litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 2,095/485/N/A 2,100kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient N/A/0.29Cd 11.3metres/0.24Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs 4yrs (50,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 20,000 miles/2yrs/36 12,500 miles/1yr/1
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 13th/6th N/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 5.3/4.7 secs 4.6/4.0 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th  1.8 secs 1.6 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th  2.9 secs 2.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  167mph/1,500rpm 130mph/N/A
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  44.9/33.1/8.8m  50.1/39.9/9.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph N/A/N/A/63/66dB N/A/N/A/60/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 43.3/9.5/762 miles N/A/310 miles (claimed)
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined N/A/N/A/91.1mpg N/A
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined N/A/N/A/20.0mpl N/A
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 151/71g/km/5% N/A/N/A/0%
Airbags/ISOFIX/cruise control Eight/yes/yes Eight/yes/yes
Electric/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes
Keyless entry/adapt susp/met paint £720/yes/£801 Yes/yes/£650
Park sensors/reversing cam/sunroof Yes/£769/£1,044 £400/yes/£2,100
Sat-nav/DAB/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes