Earlier today Porsche took the sheet off its 2012 Panamera S Hybrid, revealing a 333-horsepower, supercharged V-6 powerplant supplemented by a 47-horsepower electric motor in the familiar long-back sedan shape. Now we have its starting price: $95,000.
That's a steep point of entry, but considering the standard 400-horsepower V-8 Panamera S starts at $89,800, it's not a big relative jump. But how does it compare to the competition?
Mercedes-Benz's S400 Hybrid, the "base" S-Class in the U.S., starts at $91,000, $4,000 less than the hybrid Panamera. It offers similar space and quality, but less horsepower (295 combined horses) and performance (7.2 seconds to 60 mph versus the Panamera S Hybrid's 5.7) and poorer fuel economy--the S400 Hybrid nets EPA ratings of 19/25 mpg, while the not-yet-EPA rated Panamera hybrid rolls in at 7.1 liters per 100 km, or about 33 mpg, in the combined European cycle.
In short, for a mere 4.4 percent more money, you get a lot more performance, efficiency, and in some eyes, style, than the Mercedes. But how about BMW?
BMW's ActiveHybrid 750i starts at an eye-popping $102,300 for the short-wheelbase version, but offers a turbocharged V-8 engine, 455 combined horsepower, and 17/24 mpg. Here the balance is mostly tipped in favor of the BMW on the stat sheet, though you'll pay an extra 7.4 percent for slightly worse fuel economy and about the same acceleration.
Lexus also offers a pair of hybrid sedans to consider, though you won't find the thrilling driving dynamics you get with the Germans. The GS450h, for example, while a bit smaller, starts at $58,900, is a bit smaller than the Panamera, but offers 340 total horsepower and 5.2-second 0-60 mph times--slightly better than the Porsche. The LS600h L, on the other hand, is bigger, sports 438 total horsepower, and gets to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds--but starts $16,000 above the Panamera S Hybrid. Neither gets up to the Porsche's fuel economy rating though: the GS hybrid scores 22/25 mpg and the LS hybrid rates 19/23 mpg.
Beyond key rivals Mercedes, Lexus, and BMW, there's the new 2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid to consider. While not a true competitor--it's a size smaller than the Germans--it does offer most of the luxury, similar performance, and a much smaller price tag. Fuel economy is right on par with the Panamera S Hybrid at 27/32 mpg according to the EPA, but for just over half the price at $50,900. Power should be similar, as well, with a 67-horsepower electric motor mated to a 3.5-liter V-6. Infiniti hasn't disclosed the power output of the V-6 yet, but Nissan/Infiniti have been building 300-horsepower V-6s for nearly a decade now, so it should come in right around that mark.
So, given these options, which would you choose, and why? Is it a toss-up between the three somewhat differently able Germans, or do the smaller Japanese sedans make more sense considering the price? Is the size difference significant? Let us know in the comments below.