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TheStreet Open House

Porsche Electric vs Tesla: And the Verdict Is...

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I spent a week and 420 miles driving Porsche's (POAHF) first car with an electric motor and a wall plug, the Panamera plug-in hybrid. How does it measure up against Tesla, BMW, Cadillac and all the other plug-in cars in the market?

For starters, the Porsche Panamera is a unique and extreme car in its own right, regardless of this most recent version with an electric plug and motor. It is wide, low, has decent rear seat space and corners as if it was born and raised on a race track.

However, the purpose of this review is not to focus on the overall car but mostly on the Panamera's electric motor, transmission, braking, accelerator calibration and plug-in charging characteristics. In other words, how does it deliver as an electric car?

The Panamera plug-in's base price is $99,000, although the car I drove had a sticker of $128,505. It combines a 3-liter, 6-cylinder engine with a 95-horsepower electric motor, both mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

It offers 16 miles of electric range, if driven very gently, and after that the efficiency is on average 25 miles per gallon. If your driving distances are mostly shorter than 16 miles, you can go on electricity almost all the time. On some days, I yielded 588 mpg and 261 mpg as examples, having charged three times a day, in whole or in part.

588 mpg in a Porsche? That's a headline right there!

There are many dimensions of how one should evaluate a plug-in electric car, whether pure battery-electric or gasoline-electric hybrid. Regardless of the type, however, what any plug-in car has in common is that it has to deliver supreme smoothness in its power delivery. Driving an electric car should be smoother and more relaxing.

What are the dimensions to this smoothness? It's all in the pedal control and lack of shifting. You should rarely have to touch the brake pedal because when you let go of the accelerator, regenerative braking decelerates the car for most everyday needs. Pressing the accelerator should yield a seamless acceleration from the first millisecond.

It is in this task to deliver a seamless and smooth electrified drivetrain that the Porsche Panamera fails. It is not the first 8-speed electric car I've driven. I drove the prototype of the BMW X5 plug-in hybrid a couple of months ago.

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