A plug-in hybrid called the 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid joins the lineup, replacing the conventional hybrid Porsche introduced just two years ago. The 2014 Porsche Panamera S also becomes more efficient, as a supercharged V-6 replaces the old 4.8-liter V-8. A long-wheelbase body style is now offered for 4S and Turbo models. All Panameras benefit from a mild face-lift...
The 2014 Porsche Panamera is a very sporty full-size luxury car. It offers nearly all the prestige and comfort of a full-size German luxury sedan and nearly all the performance of a German sports car. To top it all off, it's a rather practical hatchback, as well, with rear seats that fold down to provide extra cargo room. The Panamera is offered with an astonishing variety of powertrains, ranging from a V-6 to a plug-in hybrid to a turbocharged V-8. Although the four-door encountered some hostility when it debuted in 2010, mainly from enthusiasts who bemoaned Porsche's expansion beyond sports cars, it has gone on to become one of the brand's most popular models.
There are lots of four-door vehicles that claim to be sports cars. The 2014 Porsche Panamera actually means it. Sure, it may look a little frumpy with its bloated, hatchback profile. And you'd be forgiven for preferring to relax in the back seat of its luxurious cabin, which smells like the inside of a Coach purse. But get behind the steering wheel of a Panamera, particularly one of the high-performance variants, and you'll find the reflexes, poise, and power of a world-class sports car.
The Panamera, like most Porsches, comes in a dizzying array of trims. The newest addition to the lineup is the Panamera S E-Hybrid, which replaces the Panamera S Hybrid. The key improvement is that the E-Hybrid can travel up to twenty miles on battery power alone. The rest of the time, the 95-hp motor and lithium-ion batteries support the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Porsche says it can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The automaker has not yet publicized fuel-economy estimates, but the 2013 S Hybrid was EPA rated at 22/30 mpg city/highway.
A supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is now also offered on the regular Panamera S. The six is both more powerful and more efficient than the 4.8-liter V-8 it replaces. Alas, it doesn't sound nearly as sweet. That's a small price for Porsche, which needs to lower its Corporate Average Fuel Economy in the United States, and for customers in China, who avoid engine-displacement taxes. The influence of the growing Chinese market can also be seen in the addition of a long-wheelbase, "executive" variant (affluent Chinese owners often have chauffeurs). This is a big car -- just three inches shorter than a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-class -- but it still seats only four.
For those who will abide none of this environmentally friendly hullaballoo, Porsche still offers several satisfying V-8 models. The newest, the all-wheel-drive GTS, has 440 hp and a chassis agile enough to embarrass many two-door sports cars on track day. Above that sits the Panamera Turbo, which puts out 520 hp and accelerates to 60 mph in less than four seconds, according to Porsche.
The 2014 Porsche Panamera doesn't quite do it all. Beyond the stodgy styling, which a recent face-lift has failed to fix, the Panamera is something of a distant, cold machine with somewhat numb steering -- it's a four-door sports car but not necessarily a four-door Cayman. At the same time, the 2014 Porsche Panamera's firm suspension and slender sport seats prevent it from cosseting occupants in quite the same fashion as a similarly priced full-size luxury sedan. And yet few vehicles at any price can match the Panamera's all-around excellence.
- Audi A8
- BMW 7 Series
- Jaguar XJ
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class