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

Disqus - noscript

I stopped reading as soon as the author "forgot" to mention (conveniently left out?) the Supercharger network available to Model S users that recharges car 50% in 20 minutes and already (as in NOW) covers 80% of USA population, most of Germany and Norway (and costs nothing to charge).

That was one of the major plus points for Tesla - leaving it out resulted in unfair comparison. Tesla should have been a clear winner here.

Couldn't agree more. If the fact you need to recharge the Telsa is the only major downside, it should win any head to head comparison, due to the charger network and battery swap options.

So the supercharger network "covers 80% of USA population, most of Germany and Norway". How much of the UK does it cover? As it's a UK test with a UK reg Porsche, why would this network be relevant?

As the article says, "The Porsche makes more sense for more people than the Tesla – FOR NOW." How can you argue with that?

He should have still mentioned it, as the coverage will be extended to UK as well during the winter of 2014.

The Porsche is hideous!

The Tesla hasn't got the range to get from my home to Germany to find a supercharger.

It's a very short article, I'm sure there's lots of stuff that could have been mentioned - but time is money. I doubt that any readers will decide to buy either car after reading it.

If you read between the lines, the article pretty much says that the Tesla is potentially the better car. But for right now it's just not practical.

Can anybody enlighten me why a 410 bhp car can reach only 130mph as a top speed? Over the so called superchargers, 20 min for 50% charge doesn't mean 40 min for 100%.And even if it did, it is still an eternity compared to 3-5 min refueling time. I even can't think of the 23 hour option ! The bottom line is if you forget all the administrated financial benefits, electric cars are useless. . . .

It only has one forwards gear.

Odd, that's what your catamite said about you!

They're both rubbish. 21st century tech is so yesterday! Get a tried and tested 20th century tech Jaaaaaaaaaag!

nope. it's because the aero drag at the usual German limit of 250 km/h(155 mph) is about double that at 130 mph, as drag quadruples for a doubling in speed.

For the Tesla to run at 155 mph would mean the battery's charge would deplete at twice the rate at its limited 130 mph. At 155 mph the Tesla's range would be less than 100 miles - against its stated 500 km/300 mile range for the 85 kWh 'S' version - or after 30 minutes or so the Tesla would come to halt, trying to keep up with the Porsches, BMWs, Mercs and Audis on the Autobahn left lane.

These cars, particularly the common in Europe diesel versions, like the S350, 730d, A8 3.0 TDI etc, will run at up to 250 km/h and higher, for up to 3 hours, before the need to refill, and that is why the Tesla will never be taken seriously in Germany and wider Europe as a serious business express, where high average speeds mean electric cars just haven't got enough energy stored in their batteries to compete with the energy stored in 50 to 100 litres of diesel/petrol; it's as simple as that, but that which is never pointed out in the automotive, largely arts graduates infested, press.

1) Tesla one has one gear - from 0 to 15,000 rpm. If it had 2 gears - it could reach 200mph easily. But who needs that, really? Unless you plan to participate in Nascar racing.

2) How often do you drive more than 500km without taking a break anyway? Personally - I haven't done so ONCE in the last 10 years. You always take breaks for long trips - to grab a bite, take washroom break, etc. When you are done- your car is charged and ready to go - with you haven't had spent more time than you would have with a regular gas car! Yet - you won't have spent a CENT for that "fuel" :)

3) Unlike with gas cars - you can "fuel" your Tesla at home. So - you have a full "tank" every morning and there is simply no need to visit "gas stations" (Superchargers) nearly as often as for gas cars. Overall - there is LESS anxiety with electric cars, despite the common misconception (misinformation?) in the media.

So, electric cars are FAR from being useless. In fact - I struggle to see a SINGLE winning point a gas car can still boast over Model S. Which is why Model S is sold out months ahead with waiting line growing every day.

You are wrong. The primary reason Tesla only goes to 130MPH IS the single gear. Electric current considerations are secondary.They tried putting 2 gear manual transmissions into Tesla Roadsters (the first car that Tesla made) - but had to scrap the plan as the transmissions were breaking left and right. Apparently - instant torque of the electric motor and mechanical transmissions do not mix well. They estimated that to keep the 2 speed gearbox in the car - it would have to be serviced yearly.

"For the Tesla to run at 155 mph would mean the battery's charge would deplete at twice the rate at its limited 130 mph. "

Same goes for gas cars - fuel usage would also increase drastically. Read my previous post (and look it up on the Internet) - the main reason Model S is software limited to 130MPH is that it is single gear car. At that speed the motor revs at 15,000 rpm - the crazy speed only an electric motor can take. They tried 2-speed gearbox in Tesla Roadster - but it kept breaking due to crazy instant torque the electric motor provided.

I'm sure they'll come up with transmission strong enough for EVs in the future, through.

The huge omission here was not only Superchargers for Tesla, but the ENORMOUS storage capacity of the Model S, compared to a relatively tiny storage of the Panamera. Also, what is the actual MPG of the Panamera? 43mpg? That's less than half of the eMPG of the Model S. This article is a complete joke.

Precisely. It seems some readers of this article cannot fathom NOT going to refuel during their daytime commute, as opposed to completing the entire commute, and recharging at home, overnight. Imagine the ... convenience? Now that's a new one.

I cannot count the number of nail-biting nights when I rolled my old ICE (now long gone) into a gas station literally on fumes, because I forgot to refuel the day before. It's horrible and pathetic. People need to wake up. ICE cars are the past. EVs are the future. As a Model S owner, the truth is amazingly clear now.

So the Model S is: faster, cheaper, seats more people, has infinitely more tech and connectivity in the car, get improvements updated over-the-air, has significantly more storage space, costs much less to operate, costs much less to re'fuel', and will be FREE to refuel on long trips. And the Panamera is better because... the author likes the interior better and you can put gas in it? Hmmmm...

The car doesn't cost £0 to run as shown in the data comparison. You have to fill it up with electricity which last time I checked wasn't free. So no it doesn't cost £0 to run for the year and as more and more cars go over to electricity and we rely on it more and more the price will start to rocket (like petrol)

Demand drives cost. Diesel costs less to refine though it costs more than petrol. I can guarantee as more cars are getting plugged into the mains prices will raise to up the electrical infrastructure to support the extra demand and the companies will rub their hands together as the have to 'invest' in clean energy.

Would be interesting to know how much this would cost to run per year in fuel (electricity)

And reference the comment on the 130mph limit it is mainly due to the range. An electrical motor can spin safely faster than that. Also in this country and in the US 130mph breaks all speed limits so its not really an issue is it.

Neither of the tested cars has a V8 and if I'm spending that money on a car that's the 1st condition.

So why did you bother with the article?

The "single gear" argument altogether as a cheap excuse for an expensive product. Tesla could have borrowed the technology from Lexus/Toyota or Chevrolet and put two electric motors linked through a planetary gear set. Then they can solve the high rpm problem and also add extra low rpm torque to the system. But I believe the main issue is the battery capacity that renders electric cars suited primarily for A-B-A commuting, given A and B are not far apart and preferably not in a hurry. Some motorists may wish to use their cars once in a while for long distance journeys, eve allowing themselves the spoil of fast driving . And in the rear occasion when a gas/diesel car runs out of fuel on the road one can call assistance and get refueled on the spot. How is this . solved with EV's ?

Turning up at a supercharger, finding 2 or 3 cars waiting in line and each is going to take 40 minutes, so that's not a great start.

When they come out with the battery pack swap (I believe they demonstrated it already) then that problem will be solved.

Swappable battery packs are coming.

Jag do the C-X16 and C-X75 EVs so they have the capability to step into the market when it actually becomes worthwhile doing so. So wrong again anti-Jag troll. Bad news for you, people love Jag-LR and they are prospering..

I think the Mitsubishi PHEV is ahead of both Tesla and Porsche EVs as a practical purchase.

I believe there is some truth in the power drain argument too, Tesla seek to work round design problems by placing Apple-esque limitations.

Irrelevant though, this is not a track car, nor is it an Autobahn eater. It's a pioneering design with a big lead over all others.

I read the 8-page article in print form. There is high praise for Tesla Model S and it beats the Porsche Panamera comprehensively in almost every area bar the conclusion that "Porsche makes more sense for more people than the Tesla – for now." It would be interesting to know Autoexpress opinion when the superchargers arrive in the UK.

Not sure where you got the 23 hrs. figure, but Teslas come with 10kW chargers. The 85 kWh Model S takes 8.5 hours for a full charge (for a 300 mile range), but who drives that much a day? If you drive 40 miles a day it would take only about one hour to charge.

And yes you can have a 10kW charger installed in your home.

ICE's are the past, agree, but the EV's are dead born. The future is the fuel cell, all the rest will be forgotten.

Because I still like to know whats going on with the dev of electric cars been an electrical engineer. Happy now?

The Model S comes with a home charger for lower power. Anyone who could charge a Porsche Panamera can get the same amount of charge from the same socket into a Tesla in the same amount of time. In US spec, that charger will do 120V @ 12A all the way up to 240V @ 50A, I assume the UK/EU spec eschews the 120V and goes with 240V @ 6A or 8A for its lowest setting.

Using a home plug that delivers 1.2kW (about that of a high-end home theater or computer rig with multiple video cards and displays) you can get about 4 miles/hour of charge, which isn't great, but should be enough for at least 40mi worth of commute with an overnight charge.

Let's see a retest after some free-forever Superchargers have rolled out ;)


"makes more sense for more people", so more people buying Prius and Golf ?

If you want to make sense, take bus, um ... or a bike.