LEIPZIG, Germany—Although it feels like we recently tested the facelifted Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid, it turns out that was more than three years ago. This means there’s a new model due in 2024, and Porsche has given Ars a sneak peek at its next sedan as well as the factory that builds them, plus a little time behind the wheel. There’s quite a lot to look forward to about the new Panamera, including a more powerful plug-in powertrain and much sharper handling.
Next spring will see the debut of a pair of V6-powered third-gen Panameras, but we’re more interested in the other model that will show up a little later in 2024. It’s called the Turbo E-Hybrid, and it pairs a 4.0 L twin-turbocharged V8 engine with a more powerful 187 hp (140 kW) electric motor for a combined output of 670 hp (500 kW) and 685 lb-ft (930 Nm).
That makes it a tiny bit less powerful but a lot more torque-y than the outgoing Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid we tested in 2019. We expect an even more powerful third-gen Turbo S E-Hybrid will probably appear in due time, as well as less expensive, less powerful versions like the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid too, but for now, all Porsche is saying is that it plans to offer four different E-Hybrid powertrain options given the demand for plug-in Panamera’s.
The V8 engine block is carried over from the old car, but much else is new, and the electric motor is now integrated into the dual-clutch PDK transmission to save weight.
Over the years, Porsche has steadily increased the size of the energy store in its PHEV powertrains. The first plug-in Panameras, introduced midway through the first-gen car’s life span, carried just 9.4 kWH of lithium-ion. The second-gen PHEV powertrain appeared in 2016 with a 14.1 kWh pack, which saw its storage increase to 17.9 kWh when it also received a midlife refresh.
Now, the new car carries a 25.9 kWh pack. Porsche hasn’t quite finished homologating everything, so there’s no official EPA range estimate, but it told Ars that it expects the new car to be able to go 55 miles (90 km) on electric power alone according to the WLTP test cycle. There’s an 11 kW onboard AC charger, which takes 2 hours and 18 min to fully recharge the battery pack, Porsche told us.
As standard, the new Panamera comes with a two-chamber adaptive air suspension (rather than the three-chamber system in the old model). The new setup also uses two-valve dampers, one for bump and the other for rebound, mechanically independent of each other.
But there’s also the option of what the company is calling Porsche Active Ride, which features single-chamber air suspension and two-valve dampers connected to an electromechanical hydraulic pump that allows the car’s chassis domain controller to deal with each corner of the car independently—the air spring only carries the weight of the car and all the chassis control is from the dampers. Reaction time is around 25 milliseconds from sensing to acting.
The aim of Active Ride is to keep the car’s body steady at all times, so it counteracts weight transfer and resists diving under braking or pitching up when accelerating, as well as combating body roll while cornering.
There’s even a mode that overcompensates. This leans the car into corners like a motorcycle, but more weirdly, it pitches up under hard braking and dips the nose when accelerating hard. It was an odd sensation, and I’m still not sure quite what to make of it a few weeks later, but it’s an optional mode you never have to engage, and not any kind of reason to discount the third-gen Panamera.
In fact, I was quite surprised by the driving dynamics of the new car. Previous Panameras have always felt like they were carved from granite, which sort of carried over to feel from the driver’s seat. Porsche says that the focus for the new car was on comfort, but the company has imbued it with a nimbleness I’ve not so far associated with the Panamera nameplate.
Some of that is undoubtedly the new suspension, but lighter power steering makes turn-in much more effortless. And I was astounded by the amount of grip available despite drizzle that turned to rain and greasy autumnal roads. The preproduction prototypes Porsche let us out in were shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 5S tires, the first time we’ve encountered the new rubber, and together they held on tight in turns at speeds where you anticipate the grip to wash out and the car to understeer.
The Turbo E-Hybrid is fast, too. Zero to 60 mph takes just three seconds, and on a de-restricted Autobahn, you could keep going until the speedometer read 195 mph (314 km/h), although our relatively short test drives did not involve a Vmax run.
What we can’t tell you yet is how much the Turbo E-Hybrid will cost here in the US, or exactly when in 2024 it’s going to arrive—Porsche promised to share those details closer to the time.