Trans Europe Express (Delivery) – Part One

Cars Culture

The Panamera may not look efficient, but it IS a hybrid, so...

If you’ve ever met me before 8am – and some of you have – you’d probably have all manner of descriptive terms by which to describe me, but “grumpy” is a word that I suspect the majority of you would use.

It’s 4am on an industrial park in Reading and my new business is on the ground and ready to undertake its very first gig. A small, flat package needs transporting all the way from Berkshire to a town in the Czech Republic called Roudnice nad Labem. However, despite the ridiculous number showing on the clock, for once I’m not grumpy at all. I’m actually feeling pretty chipper.

That’s because I’m doing this properly. Edge Transport has been set up to be the finest small package logistics firm in the world and I’m determined to make it a success. No expense has been spared in getting it off the ground, starting with the transport itself. Before setting it up, I’d driven a few vans and decided that they were not really in keeping with my taste, so I solved that problem by picking a Porsche instead. More specifically, a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo – also known as ‘The Enterprise’.

You’ll already know why it’s taken on that name if you’ve been in the new Panamera. It’s an extremely advanced machine with a ton of technology and an effortless, silky ride. Lower that eyebrow, reader. Yes, Porsches aren’t as economical as a good old diesel van, but I’ve thought of that already. This is the ‘e-hybrid’ model – captained by a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor serving as first officer. I told you I was doing it properly. What we have here is an ideal business vehicle – efficient, spacious and comfortable while only five times the price of a van and about 1,000 times better in every other area. Bargain!

The route is a fairly straightforward one, we’re off to an early appointment with the Channel Tunnel – because last time I took a ferry there was an incident with a corpse (long story) – and then it’s a case of driving through Belgium and the Netherlands before stopping over in Germany for a night to enjoy some hearty food and a high-quality Helles or two. After that, the road takes us through central and eastern Germany, dipping us underneath Leipzig and across into the Czech lands before driving south to the delivery point. Almost all the journey is going to be undertaken on motorways, so naturally, I picked a car with standard air suspension, but not everything on our car is standard. The car itself? £84,404. This particular model with options? £108,408. Thank goodness for business expenses.

Words simply cannot express my love for the Channel Tunnel. It’s by far the simplest and most convenient method of travelling across that remarkably annoying sleeve of ocean between us and continent and it is worth every penny of the £99 ticket. Before you know it, you’re into France and bombing up the road to Belgium, a country that you probably can’t wait to get across. No doubt there are some really nice places somewhere in Belgium, you just won’t see any from the rough motorway network, thank goodness for the air suspension, hey? The Netherlands is a more attractive proposition and a lunch stop in the town of Venlo is my recommendation for this route, it’s close to the German border and there’s a number of trendy cafes around its charming central square that will sort you out much better than the transport driver’s traditional fast-food service station stop. Despite the Panamera’s girthy size, we also got it in and out of an underground car park with ease – helpfully assisted by the 360-degree camera system and the big purple Porsche encouraging people to keep a distance.

Germany is naturally where this car comes into its own, with 460 horses or so deployable and a fair chunk of electrical torque from the hybrid setup giving us serious levels of autobahn propulsion. Motorways in Germany feel a good decade ahead of the ones here in the UK (smart motorways can do one) and you can travel serious distances at impressive pace when you have a car like this to pilot. It makes driving incredibly easy and relaxing, a calming experience that leaves you no more tired than you began. Though, being in charge of a business we did hold back on the speed a little.

Now, I understand of course that you’ll want to ask me about the fuel efficiency. I’m just going to come out with it – across the journey, we managed 33mpg. It’s not setting any records is it, but the problem here isn’t the Panamera, it’s me. I simply couldn’t be arsed to plug it in. A hybrid should live with you, you shouldn’t have to live with a hybrid. The Panamera is incredibly clever in that it uses and charges the battery as it sees fit. You never need to plug this car in if you don’t want to, but you can, and if you want good fuel economy you should. With around 75% battery we managed an hour’s drive at 57mpg at one stage and try telling me that isn’t impressive for a large car with this level of power.

As you probably predicted at the start, my business probably isn’t going to work. With the channel crossing, fuel and driver nourishment, as well as a profit margin of around 400% (because I’m the boss), we’ll probably have to charge you around a grand. Even I can’t deny that DHL is a bargain compared to what we offer. Hashtag-advert.

Hopefully, I’ve left you wanting more here because in the second part of this I’ll take a more serious look at what this incredible car offers you, as well as why you should drive instead of fly abroad, and, ultimately, ask myself if every new car should be a hybrid like the Panamera. Oh, and if you need something delivering, give me a call, but we’re not cheap.