Porsche InnoDrive first drive review: automating enthusiasm Page 3


And just what are the right conditions to see this boosted efficiency? According to Döllner, they aren't on the freeway. Hybrids don't like straight, high-speed environments and neither does InnoDrive because there aren't any turns where it can slow down and recapture energy.

Expensive automotive oven mitts
InnoDrive requires a set of narrow conditions to be used, and that limits its benefits. A driver must program a destination into the GPS to receive the system's benefits. That doesn't work for me because, like most people, I rarely use the built-in GPS. On top of that, InnoDrive only works in regions for which Porsche has GPS data. That's no problem in North America or western Europe, but there will be wealthy owners in less developed regions that won't able to use the system at all because of this. Even in the U.S., new roads are built all the time.

Price is another issue, though minor. Adding InnoDrive to a Panamera Turbo like the one I drove costs at least $3,910, though Porsche also includes it alongside active lane control and a night vision system in the $5,370 Assistance package. Normal adaptive cruise control is also a hefty $2,890. While a $1,000 savings on a $150,000 vehicle isn't a lot, with Porsche's absurdly large options catalog, the extra cash makes the price of a few select features more palatable (I'm looking at you $1,620 rear-axle steering system).

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

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2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

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2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo

2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo

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But there's also a philosophical argument against InnoDrive. Porsche, more than perhaps any other brand not named Ferrari, is synonymous with a divine driving experience. The idea of surrendering any part of that feels antithetical to the brand. Use InnoDrive and you're giving up that fantastic feeling that comes through the accelerator pedal as you squeeze the throttle, and the tactile pulses that come through the brake as you add pressure. All you're left with is a video-game-like driving experience where your only objective is to keep the car between the lines. Using InnoDrive on a twisty road is like spending the night with your celebrity crush and having to wear oven mitts, ear plugs, and a blindfold. It robs enthusiasts of the sensations we crave.

At the same time, it doesn't go far enough. InnoDrive is a really impressive cruise control system, but it should be more. I'd like to see Porsche apply the same kind of mindset that birthed InnoDrive's corner management abilities to improve on steering assist systems—imagine if Porsche developed a version of InnoDrive that could not only select a safe cornering speed, but that had a steering system that could actually nudge you, gently, toward the correct line through the turn? InnoDrive as a high-performance driver training implement would be a fanciful idea, but it's one enthusiasts could get on board with and that would certainly fit into Porsche's performance-focused DNA. At the very least, it'd be nice if InnoDrive could more fully handle the boring part of our commute.

Ultimately, though, enthusiasts need to view Porsche's first small steps into autonomy in the same light as the products InnoDrive is currently available on—the Panamera and the next-generation Cayenne. Where those two vehicles (and the Macan that followed) bankrolled Porsche's sports car development, equipping future Panameras and Cayennes with more mature versions of InnoDrive will (hopefully) allow the brand to continue developing fun-to-drive human-controlled cars. In that sense, InnoDrive could be a necessary evil, something enthusiasts and brand purists will need to learn to accept. But that doesn't need to be the case—whether Porsche realizes that will remain an open question.

Porsche provided travel and lodging to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.


 
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