Caffeine&Machine cultofmachine Editor at Large Perfect one-car garage? Porsche’s estate

Perfect one-car garage? Porsche’s estate

Forget about the hypothetical two-, three-, or five-car garages for a moment – is Porsche’s
hybrid estate the ultimate single-car solution?

It’s the definitive car enthusiast pub chat fodder: what’s in your perfect three-car garage? You can alter the variables a bit – change the number, throw in a budget, or add some restrictions, but fundamentally, most of us fantasise about having a small fleet of vehicles to cover every base.

For most, though, it remains just that – a fantasy. Factors like budget and storage space mean that a multi-car garage simply isn’t an option for the vast majority. What about one single car to do it all, then? This big, brownish wagon is the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, and it might just be the answer.

Granted, a car that starts at a smidge under £90k (rising to £102,379 as tested for this Platinum Edition car) is hardly an everyday, do-it-all people’s champion, but if you do have the outlay, it would be difficult to fault it.

The fast estate is already the ultimate all-round package for many, combining pace, comfort, practicality, and subtlety in a well-rounded riposte to the very notion of the performance SUV. Then there’s the fact it’s a fast estate made by Porsche. There’s a good chance you’re sick and tired of the motoring media constantly banging the Stuttgart drum, but it keeps happening because Porsche keeps churning out cars that are superbly engineered and drive beautifully, and the Panamera 4 Very Long Name is no exception.

It’s the cheapest and least powerful of the three plug-in hybrid Panamera models, with a combined 456bhp from its pairing of a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 and 17.9kWh battery. Tempting as it would seem to try and stretch for the 552bhp 4S E-Hybrid, or even the mighty V8-powered Turbo S E-Hybrid with its slightly absurd 690bhp, it’s worth reframing this car’s status as the ‘entry-level’ hybrid Panamera.

456bhp is more than the 996-generation 911 Turbo S had. It’s more than the 959, the absolute pinnacle of Porsche performance 30 years ago, had. Basically, it’s a lot, and it feels like it. Porsche quotes a 0-62 time of 4.4secs with the fitted Sport Chrono pack, and a top speed of 174mph.

Crucially, though, this power is still comfortably deployable on cold, greasy, and bumpy roads. Aided by an eight-speed version of Porsche’s much-lauded PDK gearbox, four-wheel drive, and subtle rear-axle steering, it’s a wonderfully effective point-to-point machine in those glorious, fleeting moments when there’s a stretch of empty, winding road ahead of you. A keenly responsive (if slightly character-devoid) engine and beautifully calibrated steering mean it’s pleasingly rewarding and involving in these moments too, feeling agile and surefooted. At a quoted unladen weight of 2,225kg, it’s not a light car, but as the likes of the Cayenne Turbo GT prove, a combination of active systems and good old-fashioned engineering know-how can go a long way to disguising a car’s heft.

Of course, unless you live on the banks of Loch Lomond and work in Fort William, not every drive is this magical, so what about the rest of the time, when you’re at the behest of potholes, temporary traffic lights, and average speed checks? The Panamera is a cossetting, relaxing companion. You sit noticeably low in a gorgeously-appointed interior (which, in this particular car, might be a little bit too brown for some tastes) – more like sinking into a well-worn Chesterfield sofa than the perched-on-a-barstool effect you sometimes get in big SUVs.

The Panamera Hybrid starts up in electric mode by default, allowing you to slip silently away from a standstill and around towns and villages for a quoted 29 to 34 miles, although the standard disclaimer that you won’t achieve anything near this in the real world applies. Twizzle the little knurled rotary dial on the steering wheel and the engine wakes up. Keep twizzling and you work your way through the drive modes up to Sport Plus, where everything is at its tautest and most aggressive for when you’re back on that magical, mythical stretch of empty tarmac.

It’s this duality of personalities that’s such a good advert for the concept of the plug-in hybrid in general, both for those who want to reduce their emissions without completely sacrificing the joy of internal combustion, and for those who aren’t convinced that current infrastructure is up to the job of supporting a full EV yet. We know, of course, that the actual usefulness of the electric element of these cars is a subject up for debate, but after a morning spent with the hybrid Panamera, it seems to make sense. The fact that this drivetrain slots into a handsome, comfortable, well-built, practical, rapid, engaging estate car with the clout of the Porsche badge is just another little bonus.

Of course, it’s not perfect for everyone. Those who need off-road capability or the capacity to carry more than five need to look elsewhere (may we direct you to the Land Rover Discovery?), as will those who insist on certain things like a manual gearbox. The big kicker, of course, is that it’s financially out of reach for a great many of us. But those who can stretch to it? We’re prepared to say it: the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is the ultimate one-car garage.

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