IT’S easy to think of the Porsche Panamera as just a fast motor for the well-heeled.
But this flashy four-seater sports car is a gadget geek’s dream, loaded with posh tech to blow your mind.
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Porsche’s Panamera 4S E-Hybrid is a delight to drive – but it’s tech-tastic too[/caption]
I spent a week with the wild and wonderful Panamera 4S E-Hybrid to see if it could satisfy my tech-y desires.
After all, the Panamera has the driving covered – it goes 0-60mph in just shy of four seconds, with a top speed close of around 185mph.
Part of the joy of this particular model is its hybrid design, with an electric battery that significantly boosts your miles-per-gallon.
In fact, the car can manage north of 100mpg with good use of the electric motor – roughly four times what you’d expect from a fuel-only Panamera.
It’s a premium sports car in every respect, but there’s plenty to please the Silicon Valley crowd too[/caption]
This electric goodness also means the Panamera pulls away silently and (if you wish) with great speed, like the lithe ghost of an ancient Spartan charging into battle.
And the car is packed with bells and whistles most eco-vehicles could only dream of.
For instance, the model I tried had massage seats in the front and back.
I was overjoyed with a very firm Shiatsu rub-down on the M11, while my passenger settled into a light shoulder massage. Just try not to nod off…
The chairs can be heated, of course, but also rapidly cooled, which is ideal for the summer months when you’re hopping in to a warmed car with sticky legs.
Porsche’s Burmester speaker system is particularly impressive, too.
The speakers physically look brilliant, with slick metallic exteriors that scream luxury.
And boy do they scream: there are 21 speakers with the same number of power amps, offering a total output of 1455W.
The Infotainment system is comprehensive and supports Apple CarPlay too[/caption]
The result is a 3D surround of thumping bass, pin-sharp clarity at volume, and delightful tones across mids and treble.
Music blasts out with glorious precision, but it works wonders for podcasts too – where voices are kept clear, loud and rich.
The infotainment system in general is great.
There’s a large touchscreen (which you can also control with a spinny knob on the central console), giving you control to driving metrics, massage controls, climate zones, in-car lighting, chassis height, driving modes and more.
Oh, and there’s even a virtual button to unfold the spoiler. Never boring, that one.
For the touchscreen-phobes, there’s plenty to physically grab too – including a click-wheel to switch into the brilliant Sport and Sport Plus modes (as well as E-Power and Hybrid).
The car is spacious and loaded with more gadgets, gizmos and tricks than a Currys PC World[/caption]
Porsche has also equipped the Panamera with Apple CarPlay.
Your iPhone connects in seconds (wirelessly or via USB port), giving you access to maps, music, messages and even Zoom calls through a slick UI that is highly responsive.
This also grants you access to Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Hey Siri, tell all my friends how great my car is…
Porsche has loaded the Panamera with smart headlights that create something called a “lighting matrix”.
It means specific sections of the spread of light can be turned off to avoid blinding other drivers.
You don’t have to do anything, of course: sensors scan the road and adjust lighting automatically. You just concentrate on the driving.
At night, this system gets even smarter.
The standard lighting will get you somewhere close to 200 metres of visibility.
But there’s also a Night Vision Assist that can “see” 100 metres further still.
This system spots people or animals that aren’t even visibility in your headlights yet, and then warns you. It comes on automatically at night, so you don’t have to press an elusive button long-ignored.
The lighting matrix shuts off areas of brightness to avoid blinding other drivers[/caption]
As well as sensors, the Panamera is equipped with a generous camera array that makes parking a total breeze – even in difficult spots.
And if the cameras get dirty, you have a button to press to clean and spray.
Beeping sensors will comfortably dissuade you from driving into any walls, bollards or humans.
Plus lights on the wing mirrors flag when it’s unsafe to change lanes, with an in-car warning if you’re too close (and driving too fast) for the car in front.
Better yet, there’s a Lane Assist feature – by no means new, but very welcome. It physically nudges you inside your lanes, which is handy if you’re briefly distracted by a glorious red kite soaring over the M40 – or your gorgeous Panamera’s reflection in nearby cars, puddles and shop windows.
Night Vision Assist can ‘see’ in the dark, alerting you to living hazards[/caption]
There’s a heads-up display that projects out through the windscreen that only the driver can see.
This handily shows a bunch of metrics and sensor feedback, but most usefully your current speed and the road’s speed limit.
And of course, you get cruise control, which I ignored for the most part. If you have a Panamera, just drive the ruddy thing.
It is a sports car, after all.
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The Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid starts at £101,690.
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In other news, Audi’s A6 e-tron promises a whopping 436-mile range.
Amazon Auto now puts Alexa in your car.
And Nissan has created an “eco lullaby” that soothes babies in electric cars with the “sounds of combustion engine”.
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