In the hierarchy of automotive evolution, its often the top-tier sports cars that give us the first road-ready glimpse of the technology well see filter down into more mundane models.
Porsche, however, seems to be bucking the trend slightly. Whilst the upcoming 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar will become the firms halo model, it wont be the first eco-friendly speed machine from Porsche to go on sale.
Instead, that accolade belongs to this: the new Panamera S E-Hybrid.
Judging by the press release, Porsche seems to be pretty pleased with how efficient this new plug-in Panamera is when compared with the conventional Hybrid model it effectively replaces thanks to a new, larger lithium-ion battery pack and the ability to replenish it via a conventional plug socket, the claimed miles-per-gallon figure rises from 37mpg to a staggering 91mpg.
And, whilst claimed economy figures for hybrid shouldnt be taken 100% literally, the E-Hybrid will certainly cost less to tax whilst the soon-to-be replaced Hybrids 159g/km of C02 meant that car would cost 165 to tax in the first year, the E-Hybrids claimed 71g/km puts it firmly in the Exempt from VED category.
The aforementioned battery pack is also able to retain five-times more electrical power than the outgoing system, which means Porsche claims the Panamera E-Hybrid can travel up to 22 miles on EV power alone, with a max top speed in pure electric mode a Renault ZOE-matching 84mph.
(And yes, that is perhaps the first time a Porsche has ever been directly compared to an all-electric French supermini...)
Those thinking the Panamera E-Hybrids impressive eco statistics will hamper the cars sporting, Gran Turismo character, you neednt be worried, as the on-paper performance figures are equally as eye-catching.
For instance, that bigger batterys extra capacity also means it packs more of a punch, with Porsche claiming it generates the equivalent of 95hp. Which, when combined with the 333hp 3.0 V6 petrol engine, makes the E-Hybrids total max output of 428hp just a few metric mechanical ponies short of what the Panamera GTS can muster.
As a result, the E-Hybrid shouldnt exactly be a slouch: according to Porsche, the pinnacle of eco-friendly Panamera motoring should still be able to crack the 0-62mph sprint in just 5.5 seconds, and the top speed is rated at 168mph.
And, whilst the E-Hybrid is denied the critically-acclaimed PDK double-clutch transmission in favour of an eight-speed Tiptronic unit, the battery boost can still be used when the box drops down a few gears during overtaking manoeuvres on the public road.
To top it all off, the Panamera E-Hybrid introduces the facelift thatll soon be introduced to the entire Panamera range in July this year (Porsche claims this is now the second-generation model, but dont be fooled!), which consists of tweaks that include a redesigned lamps fore and aft, larger front air intakes, a flared rear bumper, an enlarged rear window and LED running lights.
Priced from: N/A
Available from: Now (Deliveries to commence in July 2013)
With hybrids slowly-but-surely becoming more commonplace in the Porsche road car range, as well as last years Panamera Sport Turismo concept car heralding a new era for Porsches premier GT model, it was always going to be a matter of time before the Panamera would be made more eco-friendly.
Indeed, when the facelift is eventually transferred to the rest of the Panamera line-up, Porsche will also be ditching the 4.8 V8s in the S and 4S models in favour of a twin-turbo, 418hp 3.0 V6 thats - we assume - similar to the unit in the E-Hybrid (though, for all you V8 burble lovers out there, the GTS and Turbo models are exempt from the engine downsizing trend for now).
But, whilst were yet to know what the UK prices for the E-Hybrid are, were very intrigued by this new, super-frugal Panamera. After all, what other sporty four-doors offer a blend of two-seater sports car performance with on-paper economy that would put many an eco-special supermini to shame?
None that we can think of off the top of our heads!
Our only big pre-launch quibble is that, with the previous Panamera Hybrid retailing from 87,000, its unlikely that the E-Hybrids eventual On The Road price will be noticeably different. And we doubt most people who can spend that much money on a new car are that concerned by how frequent their stops at the fuel pumps will be.
Still, theres no denying the E-Hybrid is a pretty nifty piece of road-legal kit, and were still gonna be pretty interested in what the critics and hopefully us, if we get the chance to try it out have to say about Porsches inaugural plug-in Panamera...