2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo Review: A Case For Everything


Verdict


8.7
/
10

Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQs

Name another vehicle that will get to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, has room for five people and their luggage, boasts impeccable build quality, can challenge some of the best luxury sedans with its tech, and will return over 30 miles per gallon in mixed driving. Go on, we’ll wait.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo can do all of that despite its absurdly long name. For a country filled with folks averse to wagons and unsure of plug-in hybrids, this gas-electric has the power to change minds, provided you can get over a six-figure price when equally comfortable and luxurious all-electric or high-performance gas-powered vehicles are available for less money.

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Quick Stats2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Engine:Twin-Turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
Output:552 Horsepower / 553 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH:3.5 Seconds
Fuel Economy/EV Range:22 MPG Combined / 19 Miles
As-Tested Price:$141,520

Design


















9/10

There’s no greater automotive example of the ugly duckling parable than the Porsche Panamera. An ungainly and odd-looking vehicle in its first generation, the second-gen car is a far cleaner example of Porsche’s trademark design – the long-roof Sport Turismo is the best of the current breed.

The car’s prominent and muscular rear haunches pair more neatly with the aggressively raked back end, while elements like the vehicle-spanning LED light strip stands out on roads where wagons are an uncommon sight. From the B-pillar forward, the Sport Turismo wears the same slightly menacing face introduced on the Panamera in its last redesign. You’ll find these elements on any Sport Turismo, but the 4S E-Hybrid complements them with acid-green outlines on the badges, while the lurid shade also colors the car’s large brake calipers. Whether at rest or at speed, this distinctive touch singles out the car’s gas-electric nature.

In the cabin, Porsche showed more restraint with the green accents. You’ll spot a touch here and there, but our tester’s Marsala leather and black brushed aluminum trim dominated the cabin. We’d love to see Porsche get a little more expressive with the interiors on its hybrid models, but there’s little arguing that the rich purple-ish upholstery is an avant-garde departure from boring blacks, grays, and beiges. And of course, material quality is top notch, with excellent fit and finish throughout.

Comfort


















8/10

  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: 15.0 / 45.7 Cubic Feet

The Panamera Sport Turismo has a wagon’s shape, but if you’re looking for ultimate versatility and similar performance without moving on to a crossover, we’d recommend the Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon or Audi RS6 Avant. The biggest shortcoming on the comfort front here is the cargo area, which offers just 15.0 cubic feet with the second row in place and 45.7 cubes with it stowed.

Some of the blame goes to the batteries – the 4S E-Hybrid sacrifices 3.3 cubic feet of space to a regular 4S Sport Turismo – but we’ll place plenty on the aggressive angle of the rear glass and the substantial wheel wells. The RS6 has twice as much cargo space with the second row up, while the E63 comes in at 35.0 cubes. Fold the AMG’s back seats down and that figure swells to 64 cubic feet, or almost 20 more than the Porsche. At least there’s a low bumper to make loading easier.

The rest of the cabin is, by and large, quite a comfy place. Porsche blends support and long-haul comfort in its seats as well as any other brand, and our tester’s optional 14-way chairs are no exception. We could happily spend many, many hours in these thrones, even without such extravagances as massagers. The available front heating and cooling, part of the Premium pack, is all we need.

Porsche doesn’t share interior dimensions, but it’s fair to say a pair of adults would find the second-row bench adequate for a multi-hour journey. Headroom is ample and even a longer-legged driver doesn’t eat into the rear’s space much. Still, we’d opt for an RS6 if we needed to regularly move people, owing to its substantial 37.6 inches of legroom. Porsche’s long-wheelbase 4S E-Hybrid Executive is a tempting option, too.

Much as Porsche balances the goals of the front chairs, the company has an impressive ability to craft a sporty ride without compromising on-road comfort. The standard air suspension and adaptive dampers, combined with the optional (but must-have) active anti-roll bars, help the Panamera transition from ultra-sharp cornering to effortless cruising at a moment’s notice. Set for the long haul, the 4S E-Hybrid can iron out even the harshest bumps while providing impressive high-speed stability and quashing most road and wind noise.

 

Technology & Connectivity


















8/10

  • Center Display: 12.3-inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: Twin 7.0-inch
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes/No

A wide 12.3-inch touchscreen sits front and center on the Panamera – partnered with the twin 7.0-inch displays in the instrument cluster, drivers will have all the screen real estate they could possibly need. The touchscreen runs the now-familiar PCM 5.0 operating system, which remains relatively easy to figure out. This is also a pleasantly responsive display, and we’re big fans of the haptic feedback it delivers for each input. Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard here, but Android owners should wait for the 2022 Panamera and PCM 6.0, which will add Android Auto functionality.

Those same sensations come each time you tap one of the touch-capacitive buttons on the center console, which flank the gear selector. While we like the analog buttons of older Porsches, there’s little arguing this is a more aesthetically pleasing option that better hides inputs for optional features missing on the car. In our tester’s case, the absent sport exhaust is less obvious because there’s no unmarked physical button calling out that fact.

We’re big fans of the semi-digital instrument cluster, which puts a physical tachometer and a digital speedo front and center. It stands out from the all-digital efforts you’ll see in the E63 and RS6 and, in our humble opinion, does a better job of emphasizing the Panamera’s sporty character. Reconfiguring the side displays is easy, with a simple button for toggling from one side to the other and a scroll wheel that cycles through the various pages. This is a very smart, intuitive arrangement and its proliferation throughout the Porsche lineup makes all the sense.

Performance & Handling


















9/10

  • Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
  • Output: 552 Horsepower / 553 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Eight-Speed DCT

The Taycan and its all-electric powertrain are the future of the four-door Porsche (just take a look at its stunning sales pace), but the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid is hardly a slouch. The combo of a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 with a 17.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery (a touch larger than the 2020 model’s 14.1-kWh pack) and an electric motor is good for 552 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, which is more than enough to scoot this 5,042-pound sedan along.

Porsche cites a 3.5-second sprint to 60, but more exciting is the way this car can surge ahead once it’s already moving. Porsche nailed the interplay between the gas engine and electric motor, giving the Panamera a best-of-both-world character where the rear unit offers immediate punch before handing off to the ICE for high-end power. It’s a hoot to dig into the accelerator, especially in Sport or Sport Plus.

You still select those drive modes via a knob at the 5 o’clock position on the steering wheel, while a Sport Response button sits at the center waiting to deliver extra effort for up to 20 seconds. None of the Panamera’s drive modes will help the 2.9-liter V6 sound better than it already does, though. Our tester wears the black, oval exhaust tips of Porsche’s sport unit, but they’re aesthetic only – we’re missing the sport exhaust and the auditory enhancements it brings. Still, the 2.9-liter V6 sounds rich and smooth, with enough volume to remind owners they’re driving a Porsche, but not so much to get them really excited about it.

The final quarter of the gas-electric powertrain is the eight-speed PDK. Porsche’s critically acclaimed dual-clutch transmission is once again due for praise, owing to the way it manages the power in everyday driving and still invigorates the driver when pushed hard. Quick upshifts and downshifts in the sport drive modes are satisfying, especially if you grab the wheel-mounted metal paddles and take matters into your own hands.

We like the gas-only E63 and RS6 plenty, but the Panamera remains the darling when it comes to dance moves in a sporty wagon. The standard air suspension and adaptive dampers are welcome pieces of equipment, but it’s Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus – a $5,010 pairing that’s a steal at twice the price – and optional rear-wheel steering that transform the Panamera into arguably the sharpest 5,000-pound vehicle around.

The active anti-roll bars provide incredibly flat cornering behavior and the rear-steering generates noticeably more aggressive turn-in. Combined with a lower center of gravity relative to a gas-only Panamera (one of the few benefits of big, heavy battery packs), the 4S E-Hybrid is a riot to attack corners with. You’ll forget about the weight or the hybrid powertrain or the fact that you’re driving a station wagon, because you’ll be busy having way too much fun. Our tester’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires were heroic too, allowing us to extract as much as we could from the impressive chassis.

If there’s one issue with the Panamera, it’s the one that affects most hybrid vehicles. The regenerative brakes are annoyingly grabby, with a sharp bite at initial input and a vagueness at low speeds that makes them difficult to modulate.

Safety


















3/10

Porsche lacks a comprehensive, all-in-one active safety suite, instead offering technologies on an a la carte basis. You can add adaptive cruise control or upgrade to the brand’s impressive InnoDrive suite, which draws on navigation data and the car’s own sensors to manage speed and improve efficiency over a long journey, while also offering a traffic jam assistant. But forget about any kind of advanced hands-free technology for highway travels.

In fact, the only active safety items fitted to our car, aside from the aforementioned LKA, were the standard automatic emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. Blind-spot monitoring was also on hand, but you can only snag that as a standalone option or as part of the Premium package.

Fuel Economy


















10/10

The Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo’s nearest competitors are the Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon and Audi RS6 Avant, which both feature thirsty twin-turbocharged V8 engines. So while the Porsche isn’t that efficient according to the EPA (22 mpg combined on gas power alone), neither is the competition. The RS6 and E63 return 17 and 18 mpg, respectively. All three require premium fuel. With a fully charged battery, though, the Panamera earns 50 mpge.

We experienced that boon first hand. Starting our normal 85-mile mixed test route with a fully charged battery, we left the car in Normal and selected Hybrid Auto so the computers would decide where to deploy the 19 miles of electric range – the Panamera returned a staggering 43.5 mpg. In fact, we only recharged the car twice during our week with it and recorded 30.6 mpg over 273 miles of testing.

Had we been a bit more generous with our Grizzl-E Classic 240-volt charger, we’d have likely seen an even higher figure. Charging is quite brief, too. Porsche claims you’ll see a full pack in about three hours on a setup like ours, and our experience matched that. This speed doesn’t fully make up for the meager all-electric range, but it helps.

Pricing


















4/10

The most affordable Panamera Sport Turismo plug-in starts at $110,350 (including a $1,350 destination charge) and packs 455 hp along with a zero-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds. Considering what else you get with the 4S model (a 0.7-second improvement to 60, larger wheels and brakes, and the same all-electric range), we’d be comfortable spending $120,050 to get into the 4S. After all, what’s $10,000 when talking about six-figure vehicles?

There’s not much we’d change about our tester’s $20,000 in optional extras. The $6,830 Premium pack adds the 14-way front seats with ventilation, rear heated seats, a so-so Bose audio system, the active front lighting system, blind-spot monitoring, and four-zone climate control. Our tester also carried all the performance goodies aside from the absurdly expensive carbon-ceramic brakes – active anti-roll bars, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, and rear-axle steering accounted for $6,660. We’d swap out the $950 black exhaust pipes for the $3,860 sport exhaust, but beyond that change, this is a well-equipped Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

Ultimately, the strongest determiner for customers is if they want to dip a toe into the electrified pool. If the answer is yes, they won’t be spending too much more cash than a gas-only super wagon – the RS6 starts at $117,545 (with destination) and the E63 comes in at $113,500. Some light gluttony with the options sheet on those cars will get you damn close to our tester’s $141,520 as-tested price, but without the impressive fuel economy or any noteworthy improvement in straight-line speed.

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