“Is this thing on?” After turning the ignition switch located the left side of the dash (yes, Porsche still does that) of the 2021 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid, the instrument panel and nav screen flash on, but there’s no sonic boom, nothing to indicate that its massive stable of 690 horses have sprung to life. Oh right, it always starts in the fully electric E-Power mode.
Porsche wants you to know there’s plenty of E in its E-Hybrid Panamera models, and it takes me a second to make sure it’s in gear as I silently back up. The top dog of the Panamera line has prodigious power but also a 17.9-kWh battery pack under the trunk plus an electric motor packaged between its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 and PDK eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Together, they provide the motivation for the Turbo S E-Hybrid to silently stalk about town.
The 2021 Panamera E-Hybrids are being enhanced as part of a refresh of the Panamera lineup as a whole, and a new model, the 4S E-Hybrid, has joined the fray, making three Panamera versions available with a gas-electric package: S, 4S, and Turbo S. (There are Sport Turismo wagon and sedan body styles, with the latter also available in regular and Executive long-wheelbase flavors.) The major headline is the aforementioned battery pack, which Porsche says provides 27 percent more range than the outgoing Turbo S hybrid’s 14.1-kWh battery.
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Is Stupid Powerful
Porsche isn’t shy about saying the DNA of its E-Hybrid powertrain is derived in part from its seminal 918 Spyder Hybrid supercar, and when you turn the dial of the 2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid to Sport Plus mode and floor the throttle, it’s hard to argue. Despite the fact that this car is the better part of 5,300 pounds, its 690 horsepower make it the second most powerful Porsche in the lineup behind the mighty 700-hp 911 GT2 RS. To get to that massive 690 figure, the Turbo S E-Hybrid combines that 563-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbo eight (up 13 horses over the 2020 model thanks to several internal enhancements) with an electric motor that packs 134 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The new car’s 642 lb-ft of torque is 89 more than you’ll find the GT2 RS, in case you were wondering. Yep, buy this Porsche, and you’ll have some bragging rights with the folks at the country club.
With great power comes greater efficiency, or at least that’s the plan, though final EPA numbers aren’t yet available—Porsche says we’ll know those closer to the car’s spring 2021 on-sale date. For reference, the 2020 model is rated at 19/22/20 mpg city/highway/combined (gas) and 46/51/48 mpg-e (gas + electric). The Porsche officials we spoke with are confident the Turbo S E-Hybrid will see incremental improvements over the outgoing model, in large part because of the bigger battery pack. Interestingly, the battery doesn’t intrude on the Sport Turismo’s 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space with the rear seats up, although its charging cables can get in the way when you’re throwing gear or groceries in the back.
How Fast Is the ’21 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid?
Efficiency and cargo space really don’t matter much, however, when you have one foot on the gas, one on the brake, and the mode in Sport Plus and you hit the Sport Response button, which gives you a 20-second boost of push-to-pass-type power. Let off the brake when the launch control light flashes, and holy hell, does the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid let loose. There aren’t many cars I’ve driven in my 20 years evaluating vehicles that have delivered such neck-snapping acceleration. Porsche claims the Turbo S E-Hybrid can burst from zero to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds flat. That seems conservative after my launch-controlled rocket toward the horizon. Of course, when 5,300 pounds is hurtling up to that speed and the PDK is walloping through each gear, things seem even more brutal. Take it to the drag strip, and you’ll be pulling 11.3-second quarter-mile times, Porsche says. The car has hybrid in its name, sure, but there’s nothing hybrid about its ability to lay down stupid fast times from a stop.
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is quick at any speed, really. On my way back to L.A. after dropping off my mom in Phoenix, I got into a tête-à-tête with a Hellcat-powered, blue and black-striped Challenger with a FERL CT vanity license plate. The driver apparently didn’t like me passing him and, well, went feral. It only took a quick second or two to show him this hybrid can hang with any Hellcat short of a Demon.
That was the only real drama, though, on the 800-ish-mile round trip to Phoenix and back. I spent much of my time behind the wheel testing the top speed of battery-only power (87 mph, just as Porsche said) and watching the energy regeneration readout on the screen while in Sport Plus mode, as its 7.2-kWh onboard charger helped push energy back into the battery. It would add juice until you had to 21 miles of range and hold there, waiting to either help boost power when you get on the accelerator or further optimize range in Hybrid mode. I saw an indicated 17.8 mpg on the way back to L.A.; not a huge number, but then again, I wasn’t exactly trying to win a Sierra Club award.
Porsche put a lot of effort into further optimizing brake feel via a mechanical to by-wire handoff (to aid with energy recuperation) that occurs during the pedal stroke. The carbon-ceramic brake rotors (PCCB in Porsche-speak, and standard on the Turbo S E-Hybrid) are absolutely massive at 16.5 inches up front and 16.1 inches at the rear, and whoa, are they powerful, featuring Acid-Green-dipped 10-piston calipers up front four-piston units in the back. They can be a bit on the touchy side at times in low-speed situations, but overall Porsche has done a fine job of making them feel, well, normal.
A lot of effort was also put into building more of a differentiation between the base and sportier modes thanks to optimization of the Porsche Active Suspension Management system. You really can feel it when the suspension tightens up in Sport Plus, and the ride is far more comfortable and compliant in its base Comfort setting. You can also dial back the damping when you’re in Sport Plus, which is a fine option when you want to go fast but don’t want to be punished as much over rough pavement, for example, while on the highway. And when you want to kick back and relax, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid has adaptive cruise control that works down to 0 mph and lane-keep assist that helped hone my focus during the drab desert portions of my journey to Phoenix and back.
2021 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid: Interior and Exterior
Spend the better part of 12 hours in a car, and you’ll tend to notice some little things. Like the super small amount of stowage space in the center console. Or the fact there’s only one USB port, and it’s a USB-C, so you better get to Best Buy and buy a cord. Thankfully, there’s a wireless phone charger. Although there are myriad seat adjustments to the high-backed sport thrones, there’s no massaging feature, which my mom pointed out with sadness.
But as you’d expect, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid’s interior build quality is first rate, as are the materials. The 12.3-inch touchscreen senses your choices before you even apply pressure, and the haptic buttons flanking the gearshift work flawlessly. To the right and left of the speedo you can customize all manner of displays; the same goes for the infotainment system itself. In the back, the two buckets are separated by a console with a multifunction display. Porsche has upped its game in the interior-experience and safety departments (including all manner of onboard cameras and safety nannies abound) to align with the expectations of today’s customers.
In Sport Turismo guise, the Panamera looks like the classiest of wagons, and the second-generation Panamera design is wearing well. For 2021, the changes to the styling are small, including minor updates to the lighting front and rear. You want rims? There are 10 wheel designs to choose from in 20- and 21-inch sizes, including the Exclusive Design 21-inch rollers on the car I drove. They sport bright-polished areas and painted bases, and trick wheel hub covers with colored Porsche crests nicely accented the Papaya Metallic orange paint—a hue you certainly don’t see every day.
How Much Is the 2021 Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid?
At around $193,000 to start when it goes on sale in the spring of 2021, this particular Panamera doesn’t come cheap, although it’s pretty loaded up for that price (yes, you can option it up further). In the past year or so, I’ve driven other hot-rod wagons such as the Audi RS 6 Avant and the Mercedes-AMG E63, and there’s a lot to be said for both, including that each costs far less than this particular machine.
But there’s a cachet to the Turbo S E-Hybrid that’s hard to ignore. Some purists may want to do so anyway, of course, given all of its hybrid wizardry, but its mechanicals are also what make it so special—as does silently rolling it out of your garage with the knowledge you can unleash its fury on the world at your command.
|2021 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||4.0L/563-hp/567-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8, plus 134-hp/295-lb-ft electric motor; 690 hp/642 lb-ft comb|
|CURB WEIGHT||5,300 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||198.8 x 85.3 x 56.4|
|0-60 MPH||3.0 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB||19/22/20 mpg (gas); 46/51/48 mpg-e (gas+elec)*|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, COMB||66 kW-hrs/100 miles (gas+elec)*|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.40 lb/mile (gas+elec)*|
|ON SALE||Spring 2021|
|*2020 Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid figures–larger 2021 battery likely to increase mpg-e figures.|