Porsche's Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the best hybrid on the market

If the idea of your car becoming more like your smart phone, in terms of the constant need to find a place, a time, and a socket to recharge it, disturbs you we bring both good and bad news.

The bad news is that electric vehicles, which have evolved to do away with exhaust pipes and emissions the way we've evolved from eating with our feet, are coming. And they're going to take over, possibly in less than a decade.

The good news is that Porsche – which may well turn out to be the saviour of continuing motoring joy – has the answer, or at least a solid plan to make the transition to such a quiet, different world an enjoyable one in the shape of the new Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. The first ever range-topping Porsche to come with a cable you can plug into a socket, it is even faster than it is clever and represents the Stuttgart company's acceptance that the future of the internal-combustion engine is shaky.

A fuel-free future

Stanford University economist Tony Seba recently shook the establishment by releasing modelling that suggested no petrol or diesel cars would be sold, anywhere, by 2025.

He believes that the shift to EVs is already under way and that as it picks up speed, "internal combustion engine vehicles will enter a vicious cycle of increasing costs" that will prove terminal.

Porsche, very reluctantly, accept this, and says its new hybrid model is something of a stop-gap on the way to full-EV power.

Australia looks likely to be one of the world's last holdouts against the EV tidal wave, without government doing less than zero to encourage people from buying them, and yet the Australian Market Energy Market Operator still predicts that as many as 45 per cent of cars sold locally will be electric by 2036.

Building a hybrid bridge

Porsche engineers get a bit weepy about the whole thing, because they love the sound of a screaming combustion engine as much as the next man, but probably more.

The good news is that they have decided to build a bridge, and get over it, in the shape of plug-in hybrid vehicles. They don't go all the way to electrification but do use it cleverly enough that you can drive them in silent EV mode around town and then turn them back into screaming sports cars once you hit a winding mountain pass.

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Plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, have been seen before, of course, in deeply undesirable cars like the Toyota Prius. But the really good news is that, in typical Porsche style, they've managed to make them awesome. So good, in fact, that the new Turbo S E-Hybrid is far and away the best Panamera ever.

Everything a hybrid has never been

Sure, it can drive for up to 50 kilometres (more than enough for the average commute to work and back) in EV mode, but rather than crawling along, its electric mode is grunt-tastic and can reach speeds of 140km/h before the engine has to jump in.

And yes, it can offer you a ridiculous fuel-economy figure of just 2.9 litres per 100km, compared to 9.4 litres per 100km for the non-hybrid, traditional Turbo version (which you can still buy).

But enthusiasts – and who else would buy a car that costs $460,100 in Australia – will rarely achieve that figure, because they'll be too tempted by what it can do when you flick the mode switch on the steering wheel to Sport, or the "race-track ready" Sport Plus.

Full beast mode

In those modes you get the full, combined, boost-galore benefits of both the electric motor and a howling, angry twin-turbo V8 making a combined 504kW and 850Nm of torque.

The results are spectacular, with a zero to 100km/h time of 3.4 seconds, which is exactly as fast as a Lamborghini Huracán, and a top speed of 310km/h. Its rolling acceleration, the way it can launch away when you're already doing 100km/h, is perhaps its most impressive trick because electric motors are very good at making torque.

Being a Porsche, it's also excellent at going around corners, and beautiful to drive. And being a Panamera it's spacious and luxurious inside, particularly in the rear where you get two individual seats that are carbon copies of the sporty ones in the front.

Plugging in to the future

Yes, you do have to plug it in to charge it, which is problematic if you only have on-street parking, but if you're paying almost half a million for a car you probably have a garage. And the money for a sexy and futuristic-looking Porsche wall charger (trust us, the branded charger you have is going  to be a status symbol in the future), which means it will only take 2.4 hours to get a full charge.

Surprisingly, Australians are very keen on this new tech, with Porsche Australia telling us it's nearly sold its entire allocation of the ultimate Panamera, without a single customer taking a test drive (you can buy now, but the cars won't lob until later in the year).

In the end, of course, even PHEVs will be wiped out, and Porsche people admit this, but for now they're pushing the inevitability of silent cars just a bit further down the road.

Is Porsche's Hybrid the right step in the direction for the company? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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