NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

Volkswagen's corporate parts bin is a great resource, and it's something from which all of its brands get to pluck. This includes Porsche, which took the easy route of adding a gas-electric version to the Panamera lineup by performing a little hybrid-system transplant surgery. The result, the 2012 Panamera S hybrid, makes its debut at the 2011 Geneva show.

The combination of a supercharged, direct-injected 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor is not only used in the Cayenne, but also in the Volkswagen Touareg hybrid; the 333-hp gasoline engine is an Audi unit that, in different states of tune, can also be found sans hybrid tech in the S4, S5 convertible, A6, and Q7. With the assistance of a 47-hp electric motor, total power reaches 380 hp, channeled here only to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All other Panameras sold in the U.S. come with a ZF-supplied seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, while Europeans also can choose a six-speed manual.

Porsche believes the Panamera hybrid's performance is good enough to justify adding the "S" badge. In reality, however, its performance may be closer to that of the standard, V-6–powered Panamera. With the hybrid, Porsche claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds; top speed is 168 mph. The last 300-hp base Panamera we tested, equipped with the PDK and aided by all-wheel drive, hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and went on to a top speed of 160 mph. The corresponding data for the 400-hp, V-8–powered Panamera S: 4.7 seconds and 174 mph. That said, Porsche tends to conservatively estimate performance, but the lack of the fast-acting PDK transmission and all-wheel drive likely will hamper the hybrid’s launch.

Despite all of the power, the hybrid should shine in terms of fuel consumption, at least in the city. The regular Panamera S is rated for 16 mpg city/24 highway, and we (conservatively) estimate that the hybrid will return 21 mpg in the city and 25 highway. We'll have to wait for the EPA to rate the car for official figures.

What's a hybrid without the option to drive in full-electric mode? Maybe not as satisfying, as buyers of the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid are experiencing (or, rather, not experiencing). But the Panamera won't disappoint: Drivers can accelerate up to 50 mph on electricity alone, although the range in this mode is just 1.3 miles. Additionally, when the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds, the gas engine will shut off and then be declutched from the drivetrain. Porsche calls this "sailing"; we'd call it coasting, and with the function active up to 103 mph, the cops will sometimes call it speeding.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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