Panamera goes hybrid earlier than planned

  • 12-Jan-2009 02:42 EST
Porsche Panamera.jpg

Porsche's Panamera is a four-seat car that will have a choice of powertrains including a hybrid and a high-performance, all-wheel-drive twin-turbo V8.

Porsche has taken its new four-door, four-seat Panamera partially off the secret list and confirmed that there will be a hybrid version. The range will also stretch from a (relatively) modestly powered V6 to a high powered and very quick twin-turbo V8 with all-wheel drive.

Although the hybrid was always in the model growth plan based on the already announced technology of the Cayenne hybrid, it is expected to be available at or shortly after the car’s launch next summer. This is sooner than the company had indicated and helps the Panamera better fit a changing and challenging luxury car market.

The hybrid will use the 3.6-L V6, which will have an output of around 225 kW (302 hp). Transmission availability will include the company’s new double-clutch PDK system. All-wheel drive will be an option on all models and standard on the 375-kW (503-hp) twin-turbo V8, which is likely to have 320-km/h (199-mph) potential.

Full details about the car will be divulged at the time of the Geneva Motor Show in March, where the Panamera is ensured a starring role.

Porsche designates the Panamera as a "four-door grand touring sports car." The link between Porsche and Volkswagen is underlined by the fact that painted Panamera body shells will be supplied by VW’s Hannover factory to Porsche’s Leipzig plant where the car will be assembled in a production hall covering 22,000 m² (237,000 ft²). A logistics center is also being built at Leipzig.

The car’s DFI (direct fuel injection) engines, fitted with power-efficient ancillaries, will be built at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen facility. The initial sales target is projected to be 20,000 units per annum, a figure that—depending on the global financial situation—may prove modest.

Specific details of the hybrid application will be released later, but it is expected to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by around a quarter and possibly more while enhancing performance.

At 1931 mm (76.0 in), the Panamera is wide, but it is also low with an overall height of 1418 mm (55.8 in); length is 4970 mm (195.7 in). Weight savings has been an essential part of the car’s program, and although the major part of its structure is steel, aluminum is used for some panels including hood, tailgate, and doors. Together with composites, the material is also used elsewhere on the car.

The Panamera’s exterior design signature is very much in the vein of the company’s sports cars, particularly the 911, and it does not have the type of huge and often ugly radiator grille that has become increasingly de rigeur for many manufacturers.

The roofline is distinctly coupe-esque, but Porsche states that the car is a full four-seater and has a "new concept of space" and sporty architecture in its interior. It provides a "variable space concept" with folding rear seatbacks.

A criticism of the 911 is excessive road roar in the cabin, not helped by massive wheels and tires; Porsche is very much aware of this and has worked to keep cabin dB levels to a low level. Wheel sizes are expected to be 18 in on most versions but 19 in on some and possibly 20 in on the twin-turbo.

Porsche Design Director Michael Mauer said of the car: "It is like a typical Porsche; it looks as a Porsche should look, with a visual message that it is a very sporty offering in its segment."

The integration of traditional Porsche styling cues in the car underlines a company design philosophy that is all about evolution and not making changes for change's sake.

"Part of the success of the 911 is that its original character has been kept; yet, when there was a new 911, you immediately saw that it certainly was the 'new' 911," said Mauer, who took over his design role in July 2004. "I think that has been done very cleverly in the past. If you look at the treatment of the surfaces, it is clear that the whole size of the 911 has changed but the basic design language has remained."

So elements of that design approach philosophy have been carried over into the Panamera, which is an all-new car but does not need to bring dramatic styling changes.

However, Mauer also stressed that he did not want the Panamera to be a pumped-up 911: "For me, the design DNA (of Porsche) always starts at the front with the fender higher than the hood. We do not have a traditional front grille, and at the rear, the greenhouse tapers to a kind of V shape. There are certain elements each and every Porsche should have to make the signature; you just need to glance and know that it is a Porsche. With the Panamera, Porsche is showing what is possible in the brand."

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