Porsche introduces second hybrid model


With a base price of $95,000, the 2012 Panamera S Hybrid joins the Cayenne Hybrid in Porsche showrooms, with the German brand's take on the gasoline-electric power combination that's been finding its way into the auto industry for the past decade or so.

In the case of the Panamera, the hybrid behavior is familiar in some ways. The engine shuts off at stoplights or when moving slowly in traffic.

But Porsche's system goes further - or actually faster - with its hybrid mode. You can be moving down the freeway at a pretty substantial speed and the engine can disconnect and shut down to save fuel. Battery power keeps you moving. The result is big fuel savings compared to the conventional model.

The V-8 Panamera S is rated at 19 mpg combined, while the Panamera S Hybrid checks in at 25 mpg combined, beating its non-hybrid counterpart by about 30 percent and beating every other car Porsche builds.

At first glance, it wouldn't make sense to have a hybrid badge on the same vehicle as the famous Porsche badge, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Porsche, like all other car companies, has to find ways to reduce its carbon output and fuel consumption.

Advanced technology is something high-end buyers will usually pay for. Besides, a hybrid power train gives the car a little more oomph when taking off from a standstill.

It's not just Porsche. Other makers of high-end vehicles are jumping on the hybrid bandwagon as well.

Brands like BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz all offer hybrids in the upper five-figure to above six-figure price range.

That's a sign of the times. Upscale buyers want luxury and performance. If a car company can offer both those traits along with some fuel savings and reductions in carbon output, then a certain percentage of those buyers may choose the hybrid option, even in cars that don't seem to fit the typical hybrid mold.

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