Aside from a short section where the system was confused about the actual speed limit—it thought a 60-kph section was only a 30, which gave me a chance to disengage and lay on the Panamera's power—InnoDrive was completely flawless. Braking and acceleration both felt well within the car's limits, and the speed at turn-in was never so aggressive that it felt inappropriate. InnoDrive also slows for pedestrians or cyclists, which is important if human-powered two-wheelers frequent your favorite driving road. And on the autobahn, InnoDrive does all the same things an adaptive cruise control system would.
Open the taps, HAL
But being Porsche, there's a more sporting element to InnoDrive, as it's directly affected by the driving mode. Running around in the default mode feels simple and occasionally dull. But Sport mode—aside from doing all the things sport modes usually do, like activating a more vocal exhaust, adjusting throttle and shift mapping, and firming up the adaptive suspension—also switches InnoDrive over to a more aggressive setting.
Set to Sport, the Panamera is more eager entering and exiting turns. It's not a rollercoaster of thrills and even a modestly talented driver can attack a turn with much more vigor, but Sport mode does amp up the speed significantly.
The system is capable of much more, according to Döllner. Originally, Porsche developed an InnoDrive setting for the Panamera's most hardcore setting, Sport+. The only problem was that Herr HAL 2000 kept scaring the test drivers.
“We had a Sport+ application, and the system is able to do much more than we realized right now,” Döllner said. “Even experienced drivers were scared about what the vehicle would allow. We had to take it out because it's faster than what 95 percent of our customers would want.”
But outright performance wasn't one of the goals with InnoDrive. Aside from being a system for what Döllner called “highway traveling and country roads, and for relaxed traveling,” Porsche designed InnoDrive to maximize the potential of its growing plug-in hybrid range. Used in a Panamera E-Hybrid, Döllner claims InnoDrive can improve efficiency by up to 10 percent in the right conditions.
Where InnoDrive uses GPS data to simply determine an appropriate speed in a gasoline-only vehicle, E-Hybrid models with the system will also use that data to strategize the most efficient driving method. Should it deploy the gas engine's fury or go for the torque from the electric motors? Is now a good time to coast and recoup some of the expended energy? When is the right time to brake to capture the maximum amount of energy? InnoDrive allegedly answers these questions and more to deliver a more efficient driving experience.