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Porsche introduces world's 'most powerful' luxury sedan

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Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Porsche unveiled one of the most powerful production vehicles it has ever made - and it's a hatchback.

[NEW YORK] Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Porsche unveiled one of the most powerful production vehicles it has ever made - and it's a hatchback.

The 2018 Panamera Hybrid Sport Turismo hatchback sedan gets 680 total horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, more than both the US$143,600 911 GT3 and the massive US$118,100 Cayenne Turbo SUV.  To achieve these results, it uses a hybrid boost strategy from the track-dominating 918 Spyder roadster.

It can hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Top speed is 192 mph - an exceptional feat but not unexpected among car industry insiders. 

"Porsche's approach to plug-in hybrids is that they are providing a solid range (of options)," said Joe Wiesenfelder, the executive editor of Cars.com. "One of the areas where BMW continues to fall down is in the electric range and their plug-ins. These are big heavy vehicles that they're trying to make into hybrids. At least Porsche is trying to check that box."

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The Sport Turismo Hybrid's power comes from a 550-hp, twin-turbo V8 combustion engine and a 136-hp electric motor. The power pack is paired with Porsche's eight-speed "PDK" automatic transmission and standard active all-wheel drive.

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery takes 12 hours to charge fully via a common 120 V, 10 amp connection; on an optional 7.2 kW on-board charger, the charging time decreases to fewer than three hours. Each of six different drive modes offers various levels of efficiency and performance, and it will go 30 miles on electric power alone before the regular combustion engine takes over.

The new plug-in turbo hybrid fits right in aesthetically with the four other engine/powertrain variants in the Panamera Sport Turismo family. It has a large, low tailgate; a high roofline with seating for five; and ample luggage space. Adaptive cruise control and rear-axle steering allow for increased athleticism around corners and on uneven terrain.

The power adjustable roof spoiler automatically moves to the highest position when the car exceeds 55 miles per hour.  The new hatchback also comes packed with such standards as ceramic composite brakes, a Sport Chrono shifting package, 21-inch 911 "Turbo Design" wheels, and a three-chamber air suspension system that smooths acceleration and ride feel.

According to Oliver Blume, the chairman of Porsche's executive board, the car is aimed squarely at the US market.   Last year Panamera Hybrid sales increased 66 per cent nationwide; the US is also Porsche's biggest market for turbos worldwide, with a full 25 per cent of those going to California alone. This new model gives turbo-hungry stateside buyers one more option from the German carmaker when it comes to hybrid vehicles that combine practicality with performance.  Base models start at US$188,400, with deliveries beginning next spring.   

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