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Shanghai show: Porsche Panamera plug-in coming

Green power: The Porsche Panamera will soon be available as a frugal plug-in hybrid.

Frugal plug-in hybrid and new twin-turbo V6 headline revised Porsche Panamera

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Porsche logo4 Apr 2013

PORSCHE has revealed a plug-in Panamera that not only undercuts the fuel use of its hybrid predecessor by more than half, but is also ‘greener’ than a Toyota Prius.

Revealed overnight ahead of its world debut in Shanghai on April 20, the plug-in Panamera returns a fuel use figure of 3.1 litres per 100km on the European cycle – extraordinary for a full-size grand tourer – although Porsche freely admits this is in strictly controlled conditions.

As a result, the most efficient production Porsche to date not only beats the figures of the outgoing Panamera hybrid (7.1L/100km) and current diesel (6.5L/100km), but also the environmental benchmark Toyota Prius (3.9L/100km).

The plug-in Panamera can travel at a maximum speed of 135km/h before the petrol engine kicks in, and for the first time there is also an electric-only driving range – it can travel a maximum of 36 kilometres as a pure EV.

Top speed doubles to 270km/h for the petrol unit, while the combined drivetrain can send the hefty Panamera from zero to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds – half a second faster than the previous traditional hybrid.

The E-hybrid’s drivetrain is essentially lifted from the Sport Turismo concept displayed at the Paris motor show last September. Total system output is 310kW, with the new electric motor chipping in 70kW – more than double the output in the previous, non plug-in hybrid.

A more potent 9.4kWh lithium-ion battery replaces the old S Hybrid’s nickel-hydride unit. Porsche claims the cells can be fully recharged from a conventional household outlet in fewer than four hours, or around two-and-a-half hours with an industrial outlet.

Power is fed to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission shared with the diesel version.

Customers can also read charge status data on a smartphone, as well as remotely control cabin cooling and heating and various bits of trip information such as remaining driving range.

The good news for environmentally charged (and financially sorted) Australians is that the S E-Hybrid version has been confirmed for local launch this year, although Porsche Australia is still sorting out the exact launch date.

Porsche Australia public relations manager Paul Ellis told GoAuto today that local pricing and exact launch timing would be revealed in the coming weeks.

Mr Ellis said the company was confident of a jump in hybrid sales compared to the previous, non plug-in version, which accounted for about five per cent of Panamera sales. The outgoing hybrid sold for $300,500, with the new plug-in likely to attract a small premium.

The E-Hybrid will form part of the Australian Panamera range set for a staggered launch from July. The other key addition will be a new twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that is not only 18 per cent more frugal than the 4.8-litre V8 it will replace, but also more powerful.

The new V6 – a Porsche unit not yet shared with the rest of the Volkswagen Group – has 309kW of power at 6000rpm and 520Nm of torque between 1750 and 5000rpm, up 15kW and 20Nm over the outgoing 4.8-litre atmo V8.

The V6 versions get a seven-speed “PDK” double-clutch automatic with coasting function that decouples the engine when off-throttle at speed, thereby saving fuel.

The Panamera’s first major facelift since launch in 2009 also brings a new extended-wheelbase version to compete with high-end German and Italian limousine rivals. While a stretched version is crucial in the Chinese market, however, Porsche Australia says it won’t be coming here.

The stretched Panamera has a 15cm longer wheelbase with two lavish rear bucket seats, and air suspension.

Styling changes on the facelifted Panamera – both short and long versions – include a larger front air intake, revised headlights, a more swept-back windscreen, new boot lid, and a wider rear window and spoiler.

Next year will see the release of a new circa 200kW diesel engine in place of the carryover current version, plus the new Turbo S petrol.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.