Why the Porsche Panamera Hybrid could become a best-seller in Egypt and Middle East !
Nevertheless I was very skeptical how performance and fuel economy could be combined in a sports sedan, mainly because the Panamera S E-Hybrid is not a typical Porsche with its 5 meter of length, two meters of width and its almost 2200kg heavy-weight. But I was proven wrong as the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid turned out to be one of the most enjoyable rides I have ever had.
But how come then that the Panamera S E-Hybrid did not become a best-seller yet in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East, where people buy a lot of the Mercedes S400 Hybrid model for example, especially since the other competitors like the BMW 7 series, the Audi A8 and the Lexus hardly play any significant role in terms of sales and reputation?
Well, in brief, there are two main reasons. The first one is the lack of service centers and Porsche showrooms in big cities (e.g. Cairo) or in huge countries like Egypt with its almost 100 million inhabitants. If we take Egypt as an example, Porsche AG would need at least five show-rooms in the capital Cairo, in order to cater the potential customers among
Other important touristic cities like Alexandria, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and Aswan would also need a Porsche service center and show-rooms in order to be able to cater the demand of the 5-stars hotels and the hotel managers, who usually register their cars with touristic license plates in order to benefit from the almost complete tax & customs exemptions for cars registered by hotels or touristic companies.
The second main reason for that is that most of the Porsche reviews published in Egypt and the Middle East are not very professional and in most cases are written by non-specialized and part-time car testers and published in unprofessional magazines, misleading newspaper supplement or silly TV programs.
When I read a Porsche ‘feature’ in a magazine such as the Egyptian car magazine Autozone, which is at the same time the PR agency for MINI Egypt (Bavarian Auto Group BAG / BMW Egypt) and where the only car ‘tester’ has a full-time job in a beverage company, then it is no surprise that the credibility and quality of such features and ‘reviews’ are below zero.
This credibility-loss applies especially to all the MINI and BMW ‘features’ but also of course to all the car brands as well in this ‘car’ magazine. The only interesting and read-worthy Porsche features published in Egypt over the past few years were the very few ones published by the experienced and respectable colleague Ahmed Bahaa Eldin. All the other Porsche features were more brand- and image-harming for the Stuttgart-based brand.
Therefore Porsche Middle East should be more selective when it comes to allocating press test-cars and Porsche Egypt definitely needs to be more selective when it comes to press events and media coverage, even if you get 10 full-page ads for free or get dozens of pages of ‘test-drives’ and Porsche events coverage.
There is a German saying which quotes ‘Was nichts kostet ist nichts wert’ and which translates in ‘what costs nothing is worth nothing’.
In this case such free ads or unprofessional reviews are very contra-productive and harm the product and brand image more than it helps. And if Porsche Egypt would participate more frequently in the international media events of Porsche AG, we would have been able to publish such reviews much earlier and more frequent.
Anyway, let us go back to our Panamera S E-Hybrid review.
Unlike the previous Porsche Panamera Hybrid, the new Panamera S E-Hybrid is a Plug-In hybrid with a much more powerful electric engine. But Porsche did not only introduce a more powerful plug-in hybrid with the second generation of the Panamera, it also introduced two new extended wheelbase variants.
The new Panamera S E-Hybrid produces 416 total system horsepower and was joined by the Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive models in the revised Panamera lineup at the time of the launch. Noteworthy here is that the Panamera S models are now powered by an entirely new 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers, while the Panamera S E-Hybrid comes with a 3.0-litre V6 Kompressor engine producing 333hp (without the electric engine).
Increasing both performance and efficiency has long been a core Porsche philosophy for each new model being launched. In the new Panamera, this approach took form in a 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers. The twin-turbo V6 replaces the naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 engine in the previous-generation Panamera S and Panamera 4S. The new bi-turbo engine is also used in the Executive version of the Panamera 4S. The engine’s figures themselves are indicators of progress as the engine output increased by 20 hp when compared to the outgoing V8 engine.
Porsche added new and further-developed technologies with the aim of reaching improved performance while also enhancing fuel efficiency and comfort at the same time. This is why you notice that the current Panamera is characterized by tighter lines, more pronounced contours and newly shaped body elements. When Porsche AG introduced the Panamera S E-Hybrid they were hoping to set new standards in terms of performance, efficiency and convenience for everyday use. And I believe they succeeded in that.
Not only has the new Panamera S E-Hybrid improved and optimized the concept offered by the previous Panamera S Hybrid, with a more powerful electric motor and a higher-performance battery that supplies more energy and is able to be recharged from home or any public vehicle charging stations, but you also have tremendous joy and fun using and exploring the capabilities of the electric motor rather than the V6 Biturbo combustion engine which is basically an AUDI engine.
The electric motor produces 95 hp, more than double the power of the previous model’s electric motor which was only 47 hp. The electricity is stored in a newly developed lithium-ion battery, which at 9.4 kWh has increased capacity over the previous battery (1.7 kWh) significantly. Via the integrated on-board charging componentry and the standard Porsche Universal Charger (AC), the battery can reach full charge within approximately two and a half hours when connected to a 240V power source.
The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid raises the driving performance benchmark of the previous generation another few inches, and at the same time the fuel consumption is reduced when compared to the previous Panamera S Hybrid. Simultaneously, its electric-only driving performance has substantially improved, enhancing acceleration, range, and top speed.
Electric-only driving is possible without any fuel consumption or local emissions, which is especially advantageous in city driving such as Cairo or Dubai. And boy, that does feel very good. The electric driving range of the Panamera S E-Hybrid is estimated to be around 36 kilometers but of course the driving range will vary in real world operation, depending where you are driving and also depending on the effects of environmental conditions, terrain, air conditioning and heating use, driving style and other factors.
Our test-drive on the country-roads and Autobahns around the German city of Leipzig were rather ideal conditions, while driving on the busy Sheikh Zayed road or the congested Cairo Ring Road would definitely reduce 36-km range, especially if you would be using the air condition on a 40-degrees hot day.
But when the roads are not congested you can reach up to 130km/h in all-electric mode with the Panamera S E-Hybrid, and trust me it is an amazing feeling. But what was even more impressive is cruising down a beautiful and empty German country road on a sunny day at around 60 or 70km/h in all-electric mode, with the sun-roof open and the windows down. It is an amazing feeling you can hardly describe. No engine or exhaust-pipe noise, only a fresh breeze of air and the sun-shine entering the car through the open windows and sun-roof. It feels like if you are riding a motorcycle, but this time safely without wearing a helmet and while sitting on some comfortable air-conditioned seats.
But all this does not mean the Panamera S E-Hybrid is not a sports sedan with the typical Porsche performance genes. Not at all ! If you are in a hurry or want to push down the throttle just for the fun of it and for enjoying a new level of driving pleasure, the Panamera S E-Hybrid transforms into a totally different ‘sports-car’, as soon as you push the requested sports button. The Panamera S E-hybrid will accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, an improvement of a half second when compared to the Panamera S Hybrid.
An electric boost function helps in milliseconds when the driver desires maximum acceleration. In that case the electric motor works in tandem with the combustion engine during acceleration. The electric boost is also available when the driver activates the kick-down switch in the throttle pedal during acceleration. You will then get an impressive combined torque of 590 Nm of which 310Nm are contributed by the electric motor, which will allow the driver to reach a top speed of 270 km/h very easily.
As a driver you feel a real driving pleasure and you get really impressed when you are cruising down the Autobahn at around 150km/h and then push the throttle till you reach 276 km/h on the speedometer. The support of the electric motor to the combustion engine is remarkable and it is very rare to find such acceleration with such big and heavy luxury sedans.
The new parallel full hybrid system developed by Porsche now also offers “coasting” at higher speeds, a mode wherein the internal combustion engine is turned off and the electric motors use vehicle momentum to generate electricity that is stored in the lithium-ion battery. Never has saving fuel and winning electricity been so easy and convenient.
With the exception of the Panamera S E-Hybrid, all other Panamera models are equipped with the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) while the Panamera S E-Hybrid uses the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic. The PDK transmission works in tandem with other vehicle systems to enhance fuel savings in the Panamera. For example, the optimized engine Auto Start Stop feature now turns the engine off earlier while coasting to a stop, which is very useful when you driving on the busy Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai or the Mehwar Road in Cairo.
With the exception of the Panamera GTS, models with PDK also offer a coasting function in which the clutches open in overrun allowing the engine to idle and the vehicle to coast freely. This function can significantly improve fuel economy, especially when traveling on the highway.
So, should Panamera S E-Hybrid owners be worried that their car comes with the ‘normal’ eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission rather than with the seven-speed double-clutch PDK transmission? On the contrary, they should not be worried or bothered at all because the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission harmonizes excellently with the 416-hp hybrid engine and ensures a very smooth shifting especially on low speeds, which happens very often in traffic jams and on congested roads and which obviously are the ‘ideal’ environment for such a fuel-saving and environment-friendly car. The torque-converter makes sure that the shifting is extremely smooth on both low speeds as well as high-speeds, which is something which the buyers of such luxury cars in Egypt and the Middle East surely appreciate a lot.
And unlike the other hybrid competitors who use continuously variable transmissions (CVT), such as Lexus, the Porsche V6 combustion engine does not rev unnecessarily high and in an annoying way when accelerating, thanks to this eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission. Another huge advantage for the all-electric-mode fans is that, compared to the Lexus hybrid models, the combustion engine of the Panamera S E-Hybrid does not switch on in electric mode even when you are going full throttle. Provided that the battery of the electric engine has enough charge of course.
Keeping in mind that the EU-mix fuel consumption of the Panamera S E-Hybrid is only 3.1 litres per 100km (yes, you read it right: three point one litres only!), and that you have a fuel-tank with 80 litres capacity and a theoretical range of 1000km, then you are in front of a unique car which offers the performance of a Sport-GT combined with the luxury and comfort of a luxury sedan you need on long distances trip.
I caught myself many times enjoying the fascination of saving fuel and extending the range of the Panamera S E-Hybrid rather than feeling the urge to flat-out the throttle of this 416-hp powerful sports sedan. Keep in mind we are talking about a PORSCHE here!
My thanks here go to the EU commission in Brussels for forcing the car manufacturers to build such impressive, enjoyable but yet environmental-friendly cars.
But what amazes me most is that this Panamera S E-Hybrid has a totally different and independent character than the other Panamera models. It actually influences the driver so much that I felt my driving-style and driving-character has changed as well, from the second I open the door, turn on the key and start rolling from the parking lot in all-electric mode.
One of the differences between the Panamera Hybrid and the other Panamera models is that it cannot be ordered with an all-wheel drive system because the concept of the combined hybrid & combustion engine allowed that the V6 coming from AUDI could only be combined with a rear-wheel system. This might be a small disadvantage during the cold winter months for the Panamera Hybrid owners in Europe, but surely not a disadvantage for the potential owners living in the Middle East and Egypt.
Another difference I noticed compared to other Panamera models is that the pressure point of the brake-pedal varies a lot, due to the braking system switching from recuperation-deceleration to the mechanical braking. And although you hardly feel the switching still you find yourself forced to correcting your braking pressure very often.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid also comes with an electro-hydraulic power-steering system which does not give you the same precise feeling and feedback like a hydraulic power-steering.
When the electric engine battery is empty you do not have to stop anywhere in order to charge it with the cable. You simple push the E-Charge button and the combustion engine starts charging the battery while you are driving. In Europe this feature is very important because many cities will only allow electric vehicles into the city center in the near future. So it is always very practical that you can charge your battery on your way to the city center so that you can enter the city center in your all-electric mode with a fully-charged battery.
Porsche also developed an entirely new range of convenience functions for the Panamera S E-Hybrid which can be activated and operated by Porsche Car Connect, a mobile app available for Android and iOS-powered devices.
These functions include among others a charge status indicator and the ability to control the vehicle’s new auxiliary climate control option, which enables vehicle preheating or cooling via the Porsche Car Connect app. This cooling feature will come in very handy for the Panamera owners in Egypt and the Middle East, especially when their cars are parked during a hot day in the grueling sun without any shadow places around.
Obviously these functions can also be programmed from inside the vehicle. In addition to that a mobile device may also be used for remote access to vehicle information, such as remaining driving range or vehicle location.
Long wheelbase, spacious rear seating area: Executive models feature extra comfort
In the previous Panamera generation the two full-sized rear bucket seats have proven so successful that Porsche decided to expand the rear passenger compartment room with two new Panamera Executive models. The new Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive models now feature a wheelbase extended by 5.9 inches, enabling more rear seating comfort and come with an extensive range of standard features. For example, all Executive models are equipped with Adaptive air-suspension featuring Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which combines superior performance and enhanced ride comfort.
The changes made to the Panamera’s exterior are extensive when compared to the previous generation. The tighter and more prominent lines up front are especially apparent in the larger air intakes and the transition to the headlights, which gives the Panamera a very dominant and masculine look. The new trunk lid also received a very distinguished modification. Its laterally stretched glass emphasizes the vehicle’s width and makes for a more aggressive and dominant stance, harmonizing a lot with the aggressive front. The rear body proportions were also changed. A larger automatically deploying spoiler and a tighter transition to the rear lights complement the treatment at the front of the vehicle noted above.
The only thing you need to watch out for is the unusual width of this car, especially when you are maneuvering out of a parking lot or in a public garage.
And of course the second-generation Panamera continues the tradition of multiple options that enable owners to customize the look and function of their vehicles and give it an individual touch. Full-LED headlights, which lend the new generation a striking appearance, are now available as an option. At night-time they give the car a very unique look, especially if the car is a white Panamera like it was the case with our test-car.
Last but not least, an expanded lineup of assistance systems is available for the safety and convenience of the driver and the passenger. The revised adaptive cruise control system is now offered with Porsche Active Safe (PAS). This system visually and audibly alerts the driver in the event of a sudden decrease in following distance and briefly tugs on the brakes. It can also intervene in the braking process and apply increased braking pressure in an emergency braking situation, if required.
This feature is surely extremely important for future Panamera owners in the busy cities of Cairo and Dubai, where traffic laws and speed limits are often not followed and respected with the road users. Another new feature, the camera-based lane departure warning, offers greater convenience and safety in city and highway travel, while this option will be more useful in the UAE and Kuwait as most of the other Arab countries, such as Egypt, rarely have lanes lines on their city roads or highways.
The base-price of the Panamera S E-Hybrid in the USA starts at around $99.000 (not including options, taxes, dealer charges, and a destination fee of $975) while in Germany the price-tag is approx. 110.409 Euro including the 19% VAT.
This is a very moderate increase of only 3 % compared to the previous (non-plug-in) hybrid model, especially since this also includes the charging station for your home which was not available in the previous model for obvious reason.
Every time I step into the Panamera S E-Hybrid and drive off in the soundless all-electric mode I find myself smiling unconsciously. This car has such a unique character that it even influences your driving behavior in an extremely positive and environmental-friendly way. Let alone your contribution to the road safety due to your new relaxed and hassle-free driving style. And when your two-meters wide and 5-meters long Panamera comes in white color with green brake-calipers then rest assured that your car will be THE head-turner wherever you are. This car would definitely get a place in my Top-10 garage!
Leipzig - Stuttgart - Cairo
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