At Porsche, there has been an iron rule for several years: if you say C for Cayenne, you also have to say P for Panamera. After all, the SUV and the sedan share the claim to be the sporty vehicle in the segment, as well as the technology. It is fitting that the Panamera has always been basically a four-door nine-eleven for the developers. The march in lockstep continues on the eve of the switch to electromobility. Like the SUV, the Panamera will also be given a comprehensive facelift at the beginning of next year, which should keep the family athlete fresh until the end of the decade.

The changes are correspondingly profound. Especially since Porsche wants to implement a symbiosis of luxury, comfort and, of course, dynamics with the Panamera. Such a dance at three weddings is far from trivial. So the Zuffenhausen technicians turn a few things inside out and cover a number of kilometers with the test vehicles so that the comprehensive model update is a hit. We are at the wheel of a prototype of the provisional top model Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid, which is to achieve at least 478 kW / 650 hp with a combination of a more powerful electric motor and V8 engine and thus replaces the Turbo S. The highlight is the chassis, consisting of a single-chamber air spring combined with an active damper control, which this model is to be exclusive to for the time being.

The principle is similar to that of the ABC chassis, with which the Mercedes SL caused a sensation 20 years ago, in which hydraulic dampers constantly compensate for uneven ground, keeping the body level at all times and thus preventing pitching (when braking) and rolling (in corners). ) minimize. Of course, the Porsche variant is much more mature than the Mercedes Roadster (R230). Each damper is therefore equipped with a separate hydraulic pump, which immediately counteracts the movements of the body as soon as the wheel sensor sounds an alarm. This works so well because the rebound and compression stages of the damper can be actively controlled separately. When the body threatens to submerge, the pump forces hydraulic oil into the damper chamber at lightning speed, keeping the body straight. This happens on all four wheels, making 48-volt roll stabilization superfluous. “In theory, with the right design, we wouldn’t need a spring,” explains Dr. Thomas Friemuth, Panamera series manager, the performance of the chassis. The springs are still on board to support the car, otherwise the pump would have to work continuously, which requires more energy and increases fuel consumption. The air spring also serves a second purpose: when getting in and out, the body moves up 55 millimeters, making it easier to board the Panamera. The system also works the other way around. When lowering the body in driving programs such as Sport plus, the dampers do their job just as thoroughly.

We splash out and chase the four-door Porsche over potholes at full speed, which the chassis irons out almost completely. Even a short off-road ride doesn’t faze the Panamera and lying speed bumps lose their fright to such an extent that you can even speed over them at 50 km/h without the co-driver having his coffee picturesquely in the interior distributed. Impressive. This comfort point can be ticked off in the specifications. Although we are traveling with the 21-inch tires, which relentlessly report every pebble and every gully. It is precisely with such short excitations that even the hydraulic system reaches its control limits. This Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid has a treat in store for commuters: If you wish, you can save the geo-position of bumps in the road, the chassis remembers this and acts prophylactically. The Porsche does not have a forward-looking camera on board.

Time to deal with the dynamics. One curve follows the next. With a weight of a good 2,350 kilograms, the Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid is anything but a lightweight, but it masters corners well. The fact that the car still needs a final touch can be seen in the steering, which responds with some delay from the middle position (which comfort-oriented drivers should appreciate) and gives too little feedback. In other words: there is not enough “Porschig”. The brakes convinced us, could only be dosed a shot more precisely. The drive train has power in abundance and beats the Panamera forward with a maximum torque of around 900 Newton meters. “That still gives us some room for improvement for the Turbo S,” says Thomas Friemuth with a smile.

A lot has also happened in the powertrain. Like the Cayenne, the battery now has a capacity of 25.9 kilowatt hours (previously 17.9 kWh), which should guarantee a range of more than 85 kilometers, but also packs 30 kilograms more into the car. The six-cylinder PHEV that will follow later should even break the 90-kilometer limit. The electric motor-transmission unit is also completely new. The e-machine is now a so-called internal rotor (internal moving rotor), has a significantly lower mass moment of inertia, is therefore more dynamic, is more compact and is integrated directly into the transmission. As a result, the e-machine is “also cooled” by the oil circuit of the transmission and is therefore more efficient, since the oil flows directly around the electric motor. Logically, this was not possible with the previous water cooling system (keyword: corrosion). This makes the electric motor more stable, “We drove up a pass purely electrically, without any loss of performance”; says Arno Bögl, Drive Project Manager for the Panamera. That’s why the continuous power increases from 45 kW / 61 PS to 80 kW / 109 PS. The maximum is 140 kW / 190 hp instead of the previous 100 kW / 136 hp. The battery-electric top speed is 140 km/h.

Not only the electric motor receives a vitamin injection, the eight-cylinder is also boosted. One reason is that the Porsche technicians developed the engine for the Euro 7 emissions standard. With the previous TwinScroll turbochargers, the catalytic converter did not heat up fast enough, so they switched to two classic turbochargers. In combination with the PHEV module, you can hide a weakness when starting. The internal engine measures go even further. The injection pressure increases to 350 degrees and that in the combustion chamber to 140 degrees due to the optimized combustion. So you had to strengthen pistons and connecting rods. The crankshaft is also new. Speaking of which: the Porsche inventors found out that “light” combustion is more efficient than switching off the pots completely. For this reason, the valves of four cylinders only open a little at low load in order to partially flood the combustion chamber with an air-fuel mixture.

The Panamera will be available from dealers from the beginning of next year. As an alternative to the powerful PHEV turbo, Porsche initially has a basic six-cylinder with around 257 kW / 350 hp, which is also available with rear-wheel drive. This Panamera performed well on the test drive, especially the fact that it weighs around 400 kilograms less than the Turbo E-Hybrid, which has a positive effect when cornering and accelerating out. The tuning of the two turbochargers is also successful. Acceleration and acceleration are smooth. However, this Panamera does not have the active suspension. This is initially reserved for the Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid. The basic variant gets the semi-active chassis of the current Porsche Cayenne with two-chamber air springs and two-way adjustable dampers. We liked that in the SUV and nothing will change in the Panamera.