Porsche Panamera boosts power and efficiency

  • 11-Jun-2011 04:18 EDT
Panamera Turbo S driving front.jpg

Titanium-aluminum turbos and a recalibrated engine management computer give the Panamera Turbo S another 50 hp beyond the 500 hp of the regular turbo.

Porsche has debuted bookends in its Panamera four-door sedan line, introducing its maximum power Panamera Turbo S and its maximum efficiency Panamera S Hybrid at the New York Auto International Auto Show. “Today we are unveiling two new, dynamic, and high-performance Panamera models,” announced Detlev von Platen, President and CEO of Porsche Cars, North America.

All performance carmakers are simultaneously pursuing more speed and reduced fuel consumption, trying to balance customer’s expectations of performance with government regulators’ demands for efficiency. With the Panamera Turbo S, Porsche has accomplished that balance, boosting the power of the 4.8-L twin-turbo V8 from 500 to 550 hp (373 to 410 kW) and torque from 516 to 553 lb·ft (700 to 750 N•m).

Impressively, that power boost comes at no cost in efficiency, as the Turbo S earns an EPA fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, the same as the lesser regular Turbo. Those are numbers that let the Turbo S escape the U.S. government’s gas guzzler penalty for poor fuel economy.

While more power from the same amount of fuel may appear to violate various laws of physics, in the case of the Panamera Turbo S, it is the result of engineering work and the application of costly materials. The substitution of titanium-aluminum alloy for steel in the twin turbos’ impeller and compressor wheels reduces their mass for quicker turbo response, which is exploited by a recalibrated engine management controller for higher peak power.

As seen on other turbocharged Porsches, engineers recognized that drivers can rarely use maximum power for more than a few scant seconds at a time, so the Panamera Turbo S includes a turbo overboost function activated in the Sport and Sport Plus modes of the Sport Chrono Package, boosting peak torque to 590 lb·ft (800 N·m).

All this power contributes to 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) acceleration in just 3.6 s and a terminal velocity of 190 mph (306 km/h).

To handle this additional power and speed, the exterior is dressed in hardware that contributes to the Panamera’s ability to handle the speed while also conveying the expected appearance for a 550-hp performance model. The 20-in wheels increase the rear track width, while side skirts and a four-way extending rear spoiler manage the air flow.

As one might expect, this combination of power, efficiency, and prestige commands a premium price, totaling $174,175 including delivery charges.

The more frugal-minded Panamera S Hybrid is naturally less expensive, at $95,975 (including delivery). Official EPA fuel economy numbers were not available yet, but on the New European Driving Cycle it earned a rating of 6.8 L/100 km or about 34.5 mpg. Porsche says it is the highest-ever score for one of its cars.

Maximum output of the Panamera S Hybrid’s gasoline-electric drivetrain is 380 hp (284 kW), with 333 hp (248 kW) coming from the 3.0-L supercharged V6 gasoline engine and 34 kW from the Bosch-supplied electric-drive system.

Electric power for that motor is supplied from a Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. nickel/metal hydride battery. A clutch between the engine and the electric motor lets the Panamera run on electric-only drive for about a mile at speeds up to just over 50 mph (80 km/h). It can also decouple the engine at highways speeds, letting the Hybrid perform the hypermiler trick of switching off the engine and coasting in neutral, a mode Porsche dubs “sailing.”

In contrast to coasting with the engine off, when accelerating from a stop, the Panamera S Hybrid launches to 60 mph in just 5.7 s. While that is a couple ticks slower than the new Turbo S using overboost, it is still a quick time that compares favorably to Porsche’s historic sports cars, beating the 911 Speedster of 20 years ago.

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