Once again Porsche silences critics
Purists thought the Panamera sedan would dilute the Porsche brand, instead it appears to prove naysayers wrong by selling well and adding a lucrative extra revenue stream, just as the Cayenne does, writes DAVE MOORE.
Many people criticised Porsche for moving away from its stock in trade sports cars during the late 90s, as rumours broke through about its dabbling with SUV designs.
The howls of derision were loud and numerous when the resulting Cayenne model broke cover in 2001 and the noise was only slightly stifled when it proceeded to sell like hot cakes, filling driveways of Porsche fans wanting something they could take fishing or to the beach with a badge they could identify with.
The fact is Porsche got it so right with the Cayenne that they got it wrong. They underestimated the demand and had to go into overdrive to fulfill it and became at the time the only luxury/sports car company to have such a delicious problem where demand was outstripping reasonable supply.
The Cayenne was designed to replace the SUVs with other badges that 90 per cent of its sportcar owners already had, thereby improving the streetcred of their car fleets overnight while making sufficient money for the brand that could be invested in maintaining the heady standards and future development of its sports cars. Mission accomplished.
Porsche’s way of saying ’ We told you so!’ was to develop the possibly even more polarising Panamera sedan. The previous whingers erupted again – ‘‘They’ve really done it this time!’’ But no. The Panamera looks exactly what it was intended to be, a Porsche sports car with four doors and room inside so it can compete with the luxury sedans from other marques that the company had also spotted were tending to populate 911, Boxster and Cayman owners’ driveways.
Job done again, with sales going through the roof. As a result the Panamera and the Cayenne have become the most popular Porsches of all.
Since its inception in 2009, when the Panamera offered two and all wheel drive and a choice of turbo and nonturbo V8s, with naturally aspirated V6s following the next year, the model has gradually added other power units. Turbodiesel V6s and a supercharged V6 hybrid have joined the lineup, while after a gentle facelift in April this year, brand- new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6s have been adopted, replacing the model’s previous naturally aspirated V8s.
They may not have quite the sound signature of those units, but the new V6s are definitely not short of stoke, with 309kW available at peak, while from 1750 rpm right up to 5000 rpm there’s a huge 520Nm wedge of torque and while the big twinturbo V8 remains the lineup’s performance champ, the most useable performance is in fact delivered by the new six, for nigh-on six figures less in terms of sticker price.
The ordinary 3.6-litre V6 can be had for well under $200,000, but they lack the responsiveness and urge of the new twinturbo units, which work so well with the seven- speed PDK transmission unit that it could have been built for them.
The styling and design of the Panamera have polarised selfappointed style councillors for years and I used to have a simple conundrum for them: ‘‘How would you design a four seater that has to have a visual connection with the 911?’’ Well I reckon it would look something like the way it does, who ever tried it. From inside the car, it doesn’t bother me and I have to say that since the car has become established, I’ve warmed to it so much that next to the three- box lack of imagination shown by nearly every large luxury sedan maker – save possibly for Jaguar–- it looks lithe and muscular. In other words it looks as it drives.
For its mid- life facelift, Porsche has sharpened the car’s headlamps, enlarged and reshaped its air intakes, added neater rear lamps, blended the plate better into a reshaped rear bumper and made available a selection of striking new alloy wheels.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. What seemed to jar a touch three years ago, has settled into something much more attractive. No complaints.
One out of the box: The Panamera is not a conventional-looking sedan and standsout among traditional three-box engine, cabin and boot designs.