Finally it’s our turn to leave. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo has arrived at Reykjavik Airport – the Icelandair cargo plane landed just a short while ago and now the powerful hybrid sports car is nosing its way out of the cargo hold. Still lashed and secured on the car platform, which is moved inch by inch onto the high loader outside. And then down onto the tarmac. Touchdown.
Pétur Lentz, President of the Porsche Club Iceland and a pilot at Icelandair, has flown the Porsche here himself and is now looking on intently as the 680-bhp, high-tech Sport Turismo completes the formalities. Technical check, customs documents and then to the petrol pump to top up the tank – eventually the Panamera is standing at the airport exit and the barrier slowly rises. Electric mode. Plenty of throttle and the 100 kW electric motor with its lively torque hurls the Porsche with barely a sound into the outside world. Pétur’s face lights up: “The Turbo S E-Hybrid feels like Iceland – on the surface it’s calm and majestic, but underneath there‘s a lot of energy.“ Iceland’s entire energy supply comes from natural resources, with enormous volcanic power ensuring that this untamed island in the Arctic Sea remains on the Earth’s surface. The Porsche immediately seems to sense this affinity and heads for the outskirts of the city and then out into the Icelandic wilderness beyond. Open roads, roughed up by ice-cold, pitch black winters and the thaws of the short summers. Geysers boil and erupt, hot springs bubble and steam, while moss and lichens with defiant determination cling to volcanic rocks and transparent blue ice floes washed up by the tide are scattered along the black sandy beach. Waterfalls plunge down into their gorges, rain clouds drown the land in a five-minute downpour and then a rainbow bursts into view over the ice-capped mountains on the horizon. Welcome to Iceland.
Driving a Panamera now is all about supernatural traction and complete balance. When it comes across the first curves in the lava slopes, however, it throws itself into each bend with a passion. In one continuous sweeping motion. Driving without filter. Pétur’s eyes take on a slightly feverish shine: “Incredible what opposites this car incorporates: on the one hand it is an amazingly precise sports car, and on the other hand a comfortable family car. On the one hand a powerful machine made of pure energy, and on the other hand it is so sustainable and efficient. Just like Iceland. It matches Iceland perfectly!“ –Pétur switches into electric mode for a few moments. Silently fast. Elegant. Laid back. Pétur nods: “I like that. I like it better the more I like it.“ Enthusiasm Icelandic style.
He then switches back into hybrid mode. The twin-turbo V8 springs into life, snarling as if it were breathing fire and making the Panamera quite insistent and powerful. Pétur is pressed back into the driver’s seat with a sigh and rolling his eyes: ”I like that too …“A day later, the Panamera is the star guest at a meeting organized by the Porsche Club Iceland. Members of the club arrive in a mixed bag of Porsches ranging from a vintage 356 to Cayman GT4s and 911s in a variety of colours, park their cars and, once inside the aircraft hangar of the small regional airport, immediately inspect the hybrid Panamera. At some point, all members have completed a tour of the cockpit and, as if at the drop of a hat, the crowd surges outside. To drive. Should the newcomer perhaps show us what it can do? Out onto the wet, rough roads of Iceland, while a Viking’s dream of Valhalla majestically materialises in the windscreen. Iceland can always be relied upon to exercise its authority in Cinemascope and the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid doesn’t hesitate for a second. A good time is had by all in the south of the island until evening, as the Sport Turismo has to go back to the airport. Pétur rolls to a stop at the jetty of a small, solitary harbour with a diabolical grin on his face: ”Launch Control. We haven’t tried it out yet,“ he says, “It‘s like waiting for a geyser. You know at some point the pressure wants out … And quite apart from that, it’s a point of honour with pilots, if you know what I mean?“ Car at rest. Activate Sports Plus mode. Go for it!
What then happens is very difficult to explain, but it definitely has the characteristics of a martial art that are both alarming and breath-taking. Nothing less than volcanic. And hours later, we are still trying to figure out what actually took place. Just this much perhaps: the electric drive and twin-turbo V8 in the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid merge into a homogeneous unit, with the brutal starting torque of the electric motor generating the solid punch of the turbocharger, which is then complemented by the greed for speed of the eight-cylinder engine. It is not possible to identify when something ends or begins. This is a machine that adds a completely new and poetic component to the word “system performance“. Must be Icelandic.
Text: Ben Winter • Pics: Stefan Bogner