PORSCHE has given its Panamera line-up a refresh and while the design tweaks are minimal there are big developments on the powertrain front.
That's because, for the first time, the Panamera is available with plug-in hybrid technology and that is very big news for business drivers who can benefit from excellent tax savings.
The car is available in Sport Saloon or the larger Sport Turismo body styles and it was the latter that we tried in Turbo S E-Hybrid format costing £142,280 (£159,742 with options).
Powering this five-door car that stretches more than five metres in length, is a 4.0-litre, V8 turbo petrol engine that works in tandem with an electric motor to deliver a combined 700hp of power and 850Nm of torque.
And that translates into interesting performance statistics with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 196mph.
The car has all-wheel drive and features Porsche's eight-speed PDK automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddles for added driver engagement.
There are drive modes that are altered via a button on the steering wheel and these are called E-Power, Hybrid Auto, Sport and Sport Plus. These change the car's responses and if you switch across to the Sport modes, it sharpens up the reactions, as well as bringing the full force of the V8 to life with gear changes delivering an edgier performance.
There is a real sense of urgency to perform about the Panamera, especially when unleashed on the open country lanes. The road holding is ultra grippy with the weighty car boasting a good centre of gravity for a balanced performance.
There is also another button on the steering wheel that simply cannot be ignored. It's the Sport Response button and, when pressed, it primes the engine and gearbox for an extra surge of power that lasts for 20 seconds. It's perfect if you are going to overtake and need that added boost of pace as it counts down from 20 to zero.
With its 31-mile pure electric driving range, which easily covers the average daily commute, the plug-in Panamera is ideal for business drivers who don't travel too far to work, but need the added engine range for longer journeys.
And the running costs bring their own financial rewards as the Panamera E-Hybrid can deliver a combined 97.4mpg (under WLTP testing) with carbon emissions from 65g/km. For company car drivers, the Benefit in Kind rating, which is also known as company car tax, would be a very tempting 18 per cent.
When viewed from any angle, the Panamera Sport Turismo looks dynamic and powerful in its styling. Our test car boasted some extra design kit such assports exhausts with black tailpipes, black window trims, upgraded tinted LED headlights with matrix beam and 21-inch Panamera Sport Design wheels. Hybrid-specific tweaks include an ‘e-hybrid' logo on the front doors and an extra port for plugging in the car. There are soft-close doors, a panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate.
The interior has powered seats and a powered steering wheel in the finest leather upholstery for ultimate comfort and both the seats and wheel can be heated.
The main focal point is a 12.3-inch touchscreen with haptic feel and sharper graphics that offers access to navigation and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity - there is no Android Auto option.
Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Bose surround sound system with 14 speakers, plus a head-up display which means you can keep a constant eye on your speed, a DAB radio, four-zone climate control and plenty more besides.
The Panamera cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways with the beautifully refined cabin protecting occupants from road, wind and any engine noise. And despite its size, it's actually quite agile in busier city centres, but you will need an extra-long parking bay.
The adaptive air suspension smooths out the ride and the steering is beautifully weighted as the 2.5-tonne Panamera fires through the quieter B roads.
Regenerative braking helps to top up the battery levels on the fly and there are also hybrid-specific modescalled Hybrid Auto, E-Hold and E-Charge.
The cabin is spacious and features Porsche's 4+1 layout which means there is bundles of space for four adults to travel in comfort along with a smaller middle rear seat that can be used when needed.
The boot can accommodate up to 418 litres of luggage, increasing to 1,287 litres with the rear seats dropped flat and the vehicle can be charged in 4.8 hours on a 3.6 kW charge and 2.6 hours via a 7.2kW point.
When you factor in the comprehensive list of safety features and driver assist aids, the latest Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid in Sport Turismo guise is the complete package for anyone looking for a high-end family car that's very big on style, performance and appeal.