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Hybrids. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. Thanks to ever-dwindling natural resources and increased levels of congestion in major cities around the world, the notion of a fuel-sipping runabout vehicle that runs on electric power half the time seems more relevant than it has ever been.

So why is it then that the lead photo you see is that of a Porsche Panamera? Granted, it’s not exactly an all-out supercar but it’s certainly no Prius as well. Let me explain. This here is the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid – the second addition to Stuttgart’s plug-in range alongside the Cayenne S E-Hybrid. The 918 Spyder doesn’t really count as a series production car now, does it?

Launched as part of the facelifted Panamera range in 2013, we managed to sample the latest green Porsche on the streets of fine Singapore – which should prove as the perfect setting to put such a vehicle through its paces with copious amounts of speed cameras coupled to the typical urban crawl of the small city state.

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And so it was that I found myself circling the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, taking in its Acid Green highlights that are found on the badging, brake calipers and scuff plates. The appearance of a second “fuel” lid cover on the rear left-hand side of the car marks out the location of the charging socket while further nosing about in the boot revealed the 9.4 kWh lithium-ion battery.

While purely subjective, most individuals would agree that the Porsche Panamera never quite made it as the beauty queen in its class. On the facelift however, the rather uninspired front end gets a slightly more evocative outlook thanks to redesigned headlamps while 20-inch wheels are featured, wrapped in staggered 255/40 tyres in front and 295/35 out back.

Moving further back, the LED taillights help present a more uniformed layout while the quad exhaust outlets provided that added hint of menace to an otherwise undramatic rear end. It has to be said, however, that no amount of work can be done to help rectify its ungainly-looking, bulbous rear end – let’s hope Porsche gets it right with the next-generation Porsche Panamera.

On the inside, the eco-friendly theme continues on the instrument cluster with green needles and the absence of an analogue speedometer, replaced by a battery charge readout. The rest of the interior layout remains familiar save for the inclusion of an E-Power and E-Charge button, located on the right of the shifter.

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Under the bonnet, a 3.0 litre V6 petrol mill producing 333 hp and 440 Nm of torque is hooked up to a “permanently excited” (no, really) electric motor that pumps out the equivalent of 95 hp and 310 Nm of torque. The combined power output is pegged at 416 hp and 589 Nm of torque while the sole transmission on offer is an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic and not the seven-speed PDK found on other variants.

Putting all its power to the rear wheels, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid sprints from nought to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and tops out at 270 km/h. The official fuel consumption is quoted at 3.1 l/100 km on the combined cycle. On pure electric power alone, the car is capable of hitting 135 km/h, with a maximum range of 36 km touted. With an EU household outlet, charging the car takes a little over three and a half hours.

This particular drive was divided into four legs, with a mix of city slicking and a few highway and backroad jaunts factored in, allowing us to explore the many facets of the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. The first leg, which consisted of a cruise from Changi Airport towards the Singapore Zoo, was designed to introduce the drivers to the eco-friendly aspect of the car.

Stern warnings against speeding sounded, my co-driver and I settled in, twisted the key (how delightfully old-school!) and were greeted by the eerie silence of a plug-in hybrid car prepping itself for the journey ahead. Nothing much happens except for the fact that the green needle in the aforementioned battery charge readout swings over to ‘Ready’ – the Panamera S E-Hybrid is now in E-Power mode, which is the default setting and allows for a 0-50 km/h time of 6.1 seconds.

As part of the drive, the first two legs were part of an eco drive tournament, designed to pitch competing pairs against one another as teams fought to record the lower fuel consumption figure by the end of the second checkpoint.

First stint in the passenger seat helped revealed the Panamera’s all-rounded abilities early enough with a noticeable lack of wind, tyre and road noise – no doubt aided by the (lack of) speeds we attained. The standard Comfort seats featured here are a welcome proposition during interstate journeys – the optional, 18-way power adjustable Adaptive Sports seats should cater to performance-oriented owners.

As for everything else you can lay your fingers on, the Panamera retains that Teutonic sense of build quality – each button depressing with a damp action, every toggle switch clicking with a solid stop. If we’re really nitpicking here, the sea of buttons that frame the gear selector do represent a bit of an ergonomic challenge when selecting one on the move.

As we pulled up to the entrance of the Singapore Zoo for the start of the next leg towards Sentosa Island, I decided it was best to start from the first of the car’s range of four drive modes, starting with E-Power – the rest being Hybrid, E-Charge and Sport mode. As expected, the car pulled onto the streets and worked its way up to speed in total silence as the electric motor whirred away in the background.

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Billed as the optimum mode for short stints to the shops and back, this writer had no qualms believing it as E-Power turned the car into the perfect partner for inching one’s way about in start-stop traffic. Feedback from the electric power steering was, expectedly, faint while the regenerative braking system might catch drivers who are unfamiliar with such a system off-guard. This newbie certainly took some time to get used to it.

Switching over to Hybrid mode brought the spotlight onto the Panamera’s combustion engine. Staying true to its namesake, this mode balances the load from both the engine and the electric motor to provide the optimum amount of go when required while still keeping things economical.

Biggest change here was the sharpened throttle response, accompanied by a surprisingly fruity roar from the aforementioned quad tailpipes. After more than a few unnecessary stabs at the throttle, the faltering fuel economy prompted us to send the engine into a state of readied hibernation, revealing a smooth transition between both power sources – the tachometer providing the only solid hint of the engine’s activation.

With E-Charge selected, priority was shifted to harnessing as much energy as possible to charge the electric motor – perfect for highway stints prior to entering an urban environment. And for highways it shall remain as this is, arguably, the most off-putting mode for drivers as the sedated throttle response was now coupled to an overly-enthusiastic regenerative braking system, desperate to scavenge every last drop of energy.

At the end of said leg, we were required to charge the Panamera up, which may sound like a relatively complicated task but in reality is anything but. All one has to do is park within reach of a charging station and kill the ignition prior to attaching the cable – which requires a tap of the identification card before the cable is released. A green light flashes into life when sufficient levels of juice have been attained.

Finally free from the constraints of having to maintain a respectable fuel consumption figure, the next leg from Sentosa Island to Kent Ridge Park was a tad more lively with long stretches of roads and relatively winding ones providing an opportunity to test out the friskier side of the Panamera.

With ‘Sport’ mode selected and the dampers wound up to their most attentive state, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid does a fine job of segueing from the role of a tree-hugging gentle giant to a four-door sedan that’s pretty adamant at donning the performance mantle. As if trying to prove its straight line credentials, the car leapt off from a stoplight with so much gusto and noise that the throttle was immediately abandoned.

No speed limits were broken, of course. We don’t condone that sort of behaviour here.

Despite its near-two tonne kerb weight, the Panamera did a decent job of carving its way round more challenging tarmac but to tell you that it corners like its on rails would be a complete lie simply because we were no where near as close to breaching its limits on public (Singaporean) roads.

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Arriving at Kent Ridge Park signalled the end of the drive for yours truly as the final leg back was now the responsibility of my co-driver. With the car parked and stowed away, it slowly dawned on me that coming to a conclusion for the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid was harder than I’d expected – in the best sense.

On and on again, reviews of the Panamera have stated that it is, arguably, the best to drive in its class while being the most handicapped in terms of its aesthetics. In the case of this Panamera, the same rings true in that we have a four-seater that one can genuinely use every single day – with the added bonus of being able to amble about on pure electric power alone.

Flip it around and you’re presented with a car that’s capable of providing the smiles when the traffic dissipates and the roads begin to twist. Sum it all up on an objective level then, and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid walks over most, if not all, of its competitors.

That we managed to end the eco drive with a figure of just 4.3 l/100 km, therefore winning the tournament, meant that the Panamera S E-Hybrid also scores a trivial but vital point on the subjective side of things. So while we’re listening to our hearts rather than heads here, it should come as a surprise that the Porker here has managed to worm its way under my skin way deeper than I thought was possible.