Used 2012 Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Edmunds' Expert Review
From ultra luxury to ultra performance, the 2012 Porsche Panamera is the "everything to everybody" sedan.
Whoever said, "You can't have it all" has never driven a 2012 Porsche Panamera. With most other cars, luxury and performance are either mutually exclusive or require compromises on each end of the spectrum. Not so with the Panamera, as the wizards at Porsche somehow blended the best of both worlds.
For 2012, the performance end of the scale gets pushed a bit farther with the introduction of a new Panamera Turbo S model that generates an impressive 550 horsepower (compared to the anything-but-standard Turbo's 500 hp). There's also a new Panamera Hybrid that promises V8 performance with V6 fuel economy.
These new models boost the Panamera lineup to seven models. And even if you choose one of the more basic V6 trims, we doubt you'll be disappointed. There's more than enough power for the average driver and plenty of the luxury trappings that continue into the higher reaches of the model line.
Drawbacks are few. The Panamera can only accommodate four passengers, though these passengers can be full-sized adults and will find a high level of comfort in any seat. Options are quite expensive, sending the price skyward in no time, but that's par for the course for cars in this segment, and isn't likely to deter this Porsche's wealthy demographic. The Panamera's unconventional styling will likely be the main issue for many shoppers.
In terms of competition, the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are all worthy of consideration. Among this lofty group of luxury cars, there really isn't a loser in the bunch. The 2012 Porsche Panamera, however, is our pick for a car that delivers more of everything to everybody.
2012 Porsche Panamera configurations
The 2012 Porsche Panamera is a four-passenger, four-door sedan (with a hatchback-style trunk) offered in seven trim levels: base, 4, S Hybrid, S, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S.
The base rear-wheel-drive Panamera is powered by a V6 and includes 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a pop-up rear spoiler, adaptive suspension dampers, rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a power rear hatch and auto-dimming mirrors.
Standard features within the cabin include dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a cooled glovebox, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a 60/40-split rear seatback and rear bucket seats. Also standard are a hard-drive-based navigation system and an 11-speaker sound system with a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. The Panamera 4 differs only in that it has all-wheel drive.
The Panamera S Hybrid goes without some of the features listed above, notably the xenon headlights and parking sensors. The automatic climate control is replaced by conventional air-conditioning, but Bluetooth is included.
The V8-powered Panamera S and all-wheel-drive 4S include all of the features found in the non-hybrid V6 models, plus adaptive headlights, additional interior lighting, driver-seat memory and shift paddles.
The Panamera Turbo and Turbo S add a turbocharged V8, 19-inch wheels, additional rear spoiler articulation, an adaptive air suspension with load-leveling and adjustable ride height, front parking sensors, a keyless ignition/entry, 14-way power front seats and adjustable lumbar support, expanded driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering column, heated rear seats, a full leather interior, a microfiber suede headliner and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
In typical Porsche tradition, a very lengthy and expensive list of options allows buyers to easily customize the cars. For example, other than their engine, all of the Turbo models' extra features are available on the S and 4S.
Other options include ceramic-composite brakes, variable-assist power steering, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (adaptive antiroll bars and a limited-slip rear differential), 20-inch wheels, a rear windshield wiper, ventilated front and rear seats, eight-way power rear seats (switches seat-folding to 40/20/40), adaptive sport front seats that include adjustable side bolsters, "ruffled" leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, rear sunshades, rear ambient lighting, a rear-seat refrigerator, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, voice control, a rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio, a six-disc CD/DVD changer and a 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
The Sport Chrono Package Plus adds analog and digital stopwatches and adjustable engine and suspension settings. The Sport Design package dresses up the Panamera's exterior with a special front fascia with wider intake grilles and side skirts. There are also countless ways to customize practically every interior surface with different shades of leather, wood, metal, carbon fiber and paint.
Performance & mpg
The 2012 Porsche Panamera and Panamera 4 are powered by a front-mounted 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. In recent testing by Edmunds, the base Panamera V6 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
One notable feature on all Panameras is an auto start/stop function (something normally associated only with hybrid vehicles) that reduces fuel consumption by shutting off the engine whenever the car comes to a stop and then restarting it automatically when you're ready to go again. The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the base Panamera, while the Panamera 4 makes 18/26/21 mpg.
The Porsche Panamera S and 4S receive a 4.8-liter V8 good for 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The V8-powered Panamera 4S impressed us with a 0-60-mph run of 4.6 seconds. The V8-powered Panamera S and 4S are both rated at 16/24/19 mpg.
The Panamera Turbo gets a twin-turbocharged version of the same V8 for a grand total of 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Adding the optional Sport Chrono Turbo package temporarily increases torque to 568 lb-ft with a turbo overboost. The new Turbo S dials output up to 550 hp and 553 lb-ft (590 lb-ft with overboost). The Panamera Turbo and Turbo S left us awestruck, turning in identical 3.7-second blasts to 60 mph. These Turbo models achieve only 15/23/18 mpg.
Every gasoline-only Panamera is equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The Panamera and Panamera S offer rear-wheel drive, while the Panamera 4, 4S and Turbo are equipped with all-wheel drive.
The Panamera S Hybrid receives a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that is paired with a 35kW electric motor for a combined maximum output of 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is an eight-speed automatic with manual shift control that sends power to the rear wheels. The Panamera S Hybrid accelerated to 60 mph in a very respectable 5.2 seconds. Naturally, the hybrid generates the most favorable fuel economy numbers, at an estimated 22/30/25 mpg.
Every 2012 Porsche Panamera comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Ceramic-composite brakes and a rearview camera are optional. With the standard brakes, both the Panamera 4S and Turbo models stopped from 60 mph in incredibly short distances: 109 feet and 112 feet, respectively. The Hybrid also posts a 112-foot distance.
The 2012 Porsche Panamera is an accomplished, luxurious grand touring car as well as an engaging, highly capable high-performance car. Drivers can select from several driving modes to fit their preferences. In Normal mode, the Panamera feels as soft and leisurely as any European flagship sedan. Engaging full Sport mode can sharpen nearly every aspect of the driving dynamics, including throttle response, suspension firmness and ride height. From a sporting standpoint, the Hybrid is the least engaging, though it counters with excellent fuel economy and an exceptionally quiet cabin.
The V8-powered Panamera is capable of incredible performance. Steering is precise and handling is comparable to that of much smaller sports cars. Power can be served up with muscle-car wallops or in measured increments. The PDK transmission fires off gearchanges with urgency when pedaling the accelerator hard, or with fluid transitions when cruising down the highway. Yes, the Porsche Panamera truly does deliver the best of both worlds: sports car and sedan.
From the driver seat, there's no mistaking the Panamera's interior for anything but a Porsche, because styling cues from the Porsche 911 echo throughout the cabin. The tachometer is centered in the instrument cluster and flanked by the speedometer, a multifunction display and supporting gauges.
The Panamera lacks a centralized control system like BMW's iDrive, and as a result, there are more than 80 buttons and knobs littering the cockpit. Fortunately, these buttons are logically grouped and placed, and after time, operation becomes intuitive. Some might even find the multitude of controls preferable to shuffling through on-screen menus.
All four seats are similar in appearance and comfort. These well-formed seats provide excellent levels of support when cornering as well as plenty of comfort during long-distance touring. The rear quarters afford enough room for even taller adults, and the seats can be fitted with options to make them power-adjustable, heated and cooled. The hatchback-style trunk can hold an impressive 15.7 cubic feet (11.8 with the Hybrid) and 44.6 cubes with the rear seats folded flat (the Hybrid S drops to 40.7 cubes). The hatch opening is a bit narrow, though, and the cargo bed is high, complicating the loading of bulkier items.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
So get this: The journalists attending the launch of the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid were invited to take part in an economy challenge. Whoever got the best mileage would get a prize.
We ignored the request. To present a 375-horsepower, 4,365-pound Panamera as an eco warrior is palpably absurd. This might be the "most economical Porsche" ever, but it's no Prius.
Its task is to combine V8 performance with V6 efficiency, making the Panamera customer feel more worthy without diluting their "Porsche" experience.
The Tech Bits
Porsche's absorption into the Volkswagen empire might have upset the purists, but it has given the company access to a vast swath of technology that it could have had no hope of developing alone. Accordingly, this car's hybrid powertrain is shared with the Cayenne S Hybrid and VW Touareg Hybrid and uses a supercharged, direct-injection gasoline engine pinched from the Audi S4.
The latter measures 2,995cc and offers up 333 horsepower. Add the electric motor and you have a combined output of 375 hp at 5,500 rpm and 427 pound-feet of torque, available at just 1,000 rpm. By contrast, the 4.8-liter V8 in the old-school Cayenne S knocks out 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
This is a parallel hybrid that sandwiches the electric motor between the engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission. It also has a clutch between the engine and motor so that they can drive the gearbox independently. At speeds up to 103 mph, the system analyzes the angle of the throttle pedal and is able to decouple the engine completely when the car is coasting, boosting its cruising efficiency. Electrical energy is stored in a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, mounted in the rear to help achieve a 51/49 mass split.
The Hybrid is only available with rear-wheel drive. Porsche's engineers were forced to lower the engine to incorporate the hybrid system, and this left no room for an additional propshaft.
With a fully charged battery, Porsche claims the Panamera can be driven up to 1.24 miles on electricity alone. An E-Power button on the fascia helps optimize its electric potential by remapping the throttle to discourage the activation of the gasoline engine. It works, to a point. In slow-moving traffic, the near-silent progress is genuinely appealing, but traffic jams are really the extent of its talents. As soon as the road opens, you'll be calling for internal combustion.
No less intriguing is the impact of the electric motor on the power delivery. The instantaneous slug of torque is enough to light up the rear tires and send the traction control into hyperdrive. This makes the Hybrid feel faster than the raw figures suggest. Porsche claims zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 167 mph, compared with 5.2 seconds/175 mph for the V8 and 6.0/160 for the V6 Panamera.
Achieving such figures relies on using what Porsche calls the Boost mode, in which the engine and motor deliver power simultaneously to the gearbox. This relies on the battery being suitably charged, so the feature cannot be used indefinitely. Calling for maximum thrust also highlights the comparative lack of refinement. The Panamera might have a quartet of extravagant tailpipes, but the Hybrid lacks the acoustic charm of both the V8 and Porsche's own V6. It sounds strained under full load, denying the Hybrid the sonorous soundtrack that has always been a core component of the Porsche DNA.
Gone, too, is the rapier-like throttle response. Prod the throttle and there's a pregnant pause while the computers decide which of the systems to deploy. The near-telepathic relationship between right foot and response that you find in a 911 or even a standard Panamera is lacking here. The Tiptronic transmission is also less engaging than the double-clutch systems found in other Panameras, and the gearing is exceptionally long. Top speed is reached in 6th, with an overdrive 7th and 8th to promote fuel efficiency.
All of our test cars were fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires, measuring 225/45 at the front and 285/40 at the rear, with a diameter of 19 inches. They are speed-limited to 149 mph but offer less rolling resistance than more conventional rubber. Without a more traditionally shod car for comparison, it was hard to determine how much grip they give away, but there's no question that they're significantly noisier and less aesthetically pleasing.
When we tested the Cayenne S Hybrid we reported an awkward, jolting transition between regenerative and friction braking. In the Panamera, though, this problem seems to have been largely overcome.
On the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) the Hybrid achieves 34.6 mpg with low-rolling-resistance tires or 33.2 mpg on familiar boots. This compares well with both the V8 (22.4) and the V6 (25.3). If you're an urbanite, there's no denying the Hybrid offers significant fuel savings, even though it's hard to imagine too many Panamera customers being concerned about the cost of gasoline.
Outside the city, though, the case for the Hybrid is less convincing. Here the V6 becomes the primary tool of propulsion and if you want to progress, it will need to be worked hard. The hybrid kit carries a significant weight penalty — this Panamera tips the scales at 4,365 pounds versus 3,968 for the V8. In the real world, that impacts both performance and economy. On a twisty section of our European test route, we saw consumption drop to the mid-teens. Don't expect to get close to the official average if you drive it as Ferry Porsche intended.
Anyone keen to proclaim their green credentials can point to the hybrid badges on the rump and front doors. The rest of the car, though, mimics the normal Panamera S, which may or may not be a good thing. Two years on from its launch, its stretched 911 proportions continue to polarize opinion. Inside, there's a new E-Power meter alongside the familiar instruments, and the onboard computer now dishes up some pretty graphics explaining what's propelling what. The rest of the cabin is familiar, though, and the over-the-shoulder visibility remains as lousy as ever.
To help justify a $5,200 premium over the V8, the Hybrid features air suspension and adaptive dampers as standard, both of which cost extra on the standard "S." There's variable-assist power steering too and...hold the front page...a rear wiper.
By carefully managing the distribution of the hybrid components, Porsche has preserved the balance and precision of the Panamera chassis. No car this big and this heavy has any right to handle this well. The steering and poise are superb and on twisty roads, the Panamera shrinks around the driver like few other cars. The chassis is as entertaining as its looks are challenging.
In Europe, the Panamera S Hybrid makes little sense. The forthcoming Panamera diesel will be more economical (37.4 mpg), almost as fast (zero to 60 mph in around 6.5 seconds), more refined and $39K cheaper according to U.K. prices.
In the U.S., the position is different. The diesel may eventually appear, but for now the Hybrid is the only choice if you want to pose as a bunny-loving, tree-hugging Porsche owner. Even Stuttgart insiders admit that the Hybrid will be bought as much for its badge as it is for its engineering, but reckon there are plenty of people anxious to make such a statement. They expect around 10 percent of customers to tick the Hybrid box.
Those who do will receive a giant performance car working to a curious agenda. Here is a Porsche that sacrifices its dynamic competence and aural pleasures in favor of fuel-efficiency gains that will only really be felt by urban dwellers. The result is a car that forever feels at war with itself.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report, which originally appeared on insideline.com.
Used 2012 Porsche Panamera Hybrid Overview
The Used 2012 Porsche Panamera Hybrid is offered in the following styles: S Hybrid 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl S/C gas/electric hybrid 8A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Porsche Panamera?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.