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by Daniel DeGasperi

Facelifted for the first time, the 2013 Porsche Panamera debuts an ultra-frugal plug-in hybrid model, a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engine and a new long wheelbase variant.

The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, compared with the outgoing hybrid model, slashes fuel consumption by more than half (from 7.1L/100km to 3.1L/100km combined) and for the first time gets an electric-only driving range of 36km.

New lithium-ion batteries replace the previous nickel metal hydride units, and are now rated at 9.4kWh, more than five times the previous model’s 1.7kWh capacity. Charging via an industrial power socket takes just two hours; plugging the Panamera into a household power outlet requires four hours for a full recharge.

A smartphone ‘app’ can be used to check charging status, direct the driver back to where the vehicle is parked, or activate the air conditioning.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid is powered by both a 3.0-litre petrol V6 engine and an electric motor, the latter now with double the power – 70kW, up from 34kW.

Producing a combined 310kW, the re-designed hybrid system is up 31kW over the previous model and slashes the 0-100km/h claim by half a second to 5.5 seconds.

The petrol-electric Porsche can reach 135km/h running on the electric motor only, on its way to a top speed of 270km/h.

The electric motor acts as an ‘overboost’ function when overtaking, and the parallel hybrid design means the 3.0-litre V6 engine can shut off at higher speeds when coasting and capture kinetic energy to recharge the battery on the move.

A brand new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engine also goes into the facelifted Panamera S and 4S models. Porsche has said that this engine has been designed in-house and will unlikely be shared with other models in the VW Group.

It produces 309kW of power at 6000rpm and 520Nm of torque from 1750-5000rpm, up 15kW/20Nm on the 4.8-litre non-turbo V8 previously used in the petrol-only rear-wheel-drive (S) and all-wheel-drive Panamera models (4S – above). Fuel economy improves by a claimed 18 per cent. The V8 was rated at 10.8L/100km combined.

Where the Panamera S E-Hybrid utilises an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, the petrol-only Panamera S and 4S continue with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

With the exception of the Panamera GTS – which still uses the V8 – all dual-clutch PDK models add a ‘coasting’ function which decouples the engine from the transmission when off the throttle at speed to save fuel.

It is fitting that the facelifted Porsche Panamera will make its first public appearance at the 2013 Shanghai auto show, because a long wheelbase variant has been added to the range primarily to appeal to the expanding Chinese market.

Dubbed the ‘Executive’ models, and available only in 4S and Turbo (above) specification, they get a 150mm-longer wheelbase to improve rear legroom and come standard with adaptive air suspension.

All facelifted Panamera models score new LED headlights, larger air intakes, and “more prominent line work on the nose,” according to the manufacturer.

Porsche also cites a redesigned rear section with new tail-lights and a wider spoiler.

Upgraded active cruise control now automatically brakes the car when a collision is imminent. Camera-based traffic sign detection and lane departure warning systems are also added.

Porsche Cars Australia has confirmed that it will progressively introduce facelifted Panamera models to the local market from the end of July this year. The plug-in hybrid will be introduced late in 2013, while a forecast lack of demand means the long wheelbase variants will not be available in our market.




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