Porsche wants its PHEVs to feel sporting and powerful, and the Turbo E-Hybrid certainly does. It’s super-responsive and highly flexible in Hybrid mode, where the combined efforts of its engine and motor provide it with outstanding everyday drivability as well as towering performance potential. There’s great urgency from the off, and it rarely if ever requires any stirring with a downshift to maintain decent momentum.
The return to single-scroll turbos might sound like a retrograde step, but the torque from the new motor fills in any troughs in the delivery as boost pressure builds, so there’s fabulous linearity and smoothness under load at speed.
And with a fully variable four-wheel drive system and torque vectoring, traction remains strong at all times.
It’s also extremely refined. The engine is well isolated from the cabin and you hear no definable whine from the motor, so long journeys would be no bother.
The handling and ride are just as easy to live with. There’s an engaging fluidity to the dynamics and an inherent composure to the way the car deals with pockmarked roads that belie its kerb weight of more than 2.3 tonnes.
The new Panamera is set to offer two different air suspension options: a standard dual-chamber arrangement and a single-chamber one similar to that adopted by the Cayenne, both featuring new, faster-reacting twin-stage dampers.
“There’s no compromise any more,” says Freimuth of those dampers. “We can individually tune the individual compression and rebound strokes for more progressive and smoother action.”
The steering is superbly precise, and the car’s response and agility are heightened by the inclusion of a rear-wheel steering system.
The generously dimensioned (275/40 front and 315/35 rear) 20in Michelin Pilot Sport tyres worn by our prototype combine with the constantly variable properties of the four-wheel drive system to provide massive purchase too.
There are still some tweaks to be made before the new Panamera can be considered ready for production, but I doubt that many of them will be focused on performance and dynamics, because these are already at a very high level.