Besides a new platform, Porsche offers some features to help the Panamera defy the laws of physics. The Panamera rides on the Volkswagen Group’s new MSB platform. It uses aluminum and high-strength Boron steel to save weight and improve rigidity. It has 8 percent more torsional stiffness than the last Panamera’s body. Every Panamera comes with a three-chamber air suspension to improve ride quality and handling. On top of those, Porsche offers, rear-axle steering, active stabilizer bars, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus.
The rear steering system moves the rear tires up to 2.8 degrees in the opposite direction of the front tires at low speeds to help the car turn more sharply and effective shorten its wheelbase and with the front wheels at high speeds to improve stability.
The active roll bars, known as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport, stiffen in corners to keep the car from leaning too much.
Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus uses both an active rear differential and targeted breaking of the inside wheel to send the power to the outside wheel in a corner to help the car rotate.
Impressively, the car I drove had only the air suspension. If it were outfitted with these other systems it would be even sportier. Perhaps those features could be used to make the 5.9-inch longer Executive model handle like this one.
I did have one minor complaint, though. Braking has been a bugaboo for hybrid buyers since the advent of the hybrid, and there are some minor problems here. Like the rest of the car, the regenerative braking system is upgraded. The alternator now effectively slows the car for any braking event that is 0.3 g or less. The last model handled braking events of 0.15 g or less. That means in most daily driving the regen braking is slowing you down when you hit the brakes. Once the car reaches about 9 mph, the mechanical brakes take over.
And those mechanical brakes are big ones: 15.3-inch rotors up front and 14.4-inch rotors in the rear. In heavier braking events the mechanical and regen brakes are blended, and in all cases the brakes can feel a bit grabby and the hand-off to the mechanical brakes at low speeds can be a bit awkward. I didn't have much of a problem with the system and most people will get used to the feel, but some may not find it natural.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid will go on sale this summer with a starting price of $100,650. That represents an increase of about $6,000, but you do get more efficiency and more performance. A longer Executive model will run $105,150.
If you are considering buying a Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, the mode you choose and how you drive it will determine the car's personality. Drive it hard and and outfit it with some performance features, and it can feel like a four-door 911. Charge it up and tread lightly on the go pedal, and this big, comfortable luxury sedan can be green car among gas guzzlers. It's not green at 172 mph, but it’s nice to have the option.