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Review: Porsche’s Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Is a Plug-in That Won’t Disappoint the Purists

The model variant pairs an electric motor with a twin-turbo V-6 for 552 hp and plenty of versatile athleticism.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid. Photo by Lisa Linke, courtesy of Porsche AG.

For anyone who believes that hybrid cars are clunky or lacking in agility, Porsche’s Panamera 4S E-Hybrid will be a paradigm shift in perception.

With an impressive 552 hp and 553 ft lbs of torque, this four-door model variant delivers muscle and dynamism usually associated with non-hybrid coupes, all while offering the benefits of greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Most importantly, it provides Porsche devotees more functionality without compromising the drive experience synonymous with the German marque.

Versatility and flexibility are two more values that Porsche’s customer base values dearly, and this hybrid—fit with an eight-speed PDK transmission—offers plenty of both, especially in the way it can be charged. Besides the plug-in option, the 17.9 kWh battery can be charged by the operation of the V-6 engine, which can get the battery replenished to 80 percent capacity. And relying on battery power alone, the car can get up to 25 miles of range, which effectively eliminates the need for gasoline on short trips and commutes.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid in Truffle Brown Metallic.

Porsche’s Panamera 4S E-Hybrid in Truffle Brown Metallic.  Photo by Lisa Linke, courtesy of Porsche AG.

Getting an electric motor to slingshot a heavier vehicle seems to be a fail-proof strategy, but the extra 1,322 pounds that the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid has over its conventionally powered counterpart was a challenge for both the power-train division and vehicle-dynamics division at Porsche. While trading two cylinders for an electric component paid off in regards to output, the vehicle dynamics team had to be a bit more inventive.

The electric power steering manages to provide unexpected levels of feedback, keeping you constantly in contact with the road. Furthermore, pedal travel has increased due to smaller calipers. Combined with a magnetic transducer, the line between regenerative braking and mechanical stopping power has a better contour, especially when driving more aggressively.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

Along with the plug-in option for charging, the 17.9 kWh battery can be replenished by up to 80 percent with the V-6 engine.  Photo by Lisa Linke, courtesy of Porsche AG.

As far as hardware, the adaptive air suspension hasn’t changed on the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid for the current model year. However, a software upgrade gets the car more track-focused by stiffening up the shocks and dampers. The active anti-roll bars can be paired with Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control, which, with the added benefit of a lower center of gravity and optional rear-wheel steering, make the 4S E-Hybrid highly athletic when tackling corners.

The interior of the 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid.

The interior of the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid is more casual than cushy.  Photo by Lisa Linke, courtesy of Porsche AG.

There is a noticeable shifting of torque towards the rear axle, especially in Sport+ mode. A rear-differential locking system has been integrated and, combined with the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, will have anyone tempted to take it on track.

Although it features sumptuous leather, sporty controls and elegant finishes, the interior of the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid is more business casual than overly cushy. That aesthetic, however, is also what sets it apart from competitors like the BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. Yet this vehicle’s own unique stamp, imprinted on the high-performance automaker’s DNA, is enough to make any Porschephile proud.

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