Porsche Panam­era 2017

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Kenny Yeo

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If you are old enough to know how to use a cas­sette tape, you would know that Porsche used to be a sports car com­pany. Ob­vi­ously, they are most fa­mous for the 911, but back in the day, they make other sports cars like the 924, 944, 968, and the leg­endary 959. How­ever, the com­pany faced fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties in the late Nineties and it was saved by the un­like­li­est of all Porsche cars. It was saved by the Cayenne, which is prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing that the 911 isn't. How­ever, it had a party trick and that was its bril­liant han­dling. De­spite its size, it drives al­most like a sports car. But more im­por­tantly, it sold ex­tremely well be­cause it now meant that buy­ing Porsche didn't mean leav­ing your chil­dren be­hind when­ever you had to drive to get some­where. The Cayenne, the first four-door car Porsche ever made, saved the com­pany.

Seven years later, Porsche de­cided to ex­pand its range of 4-door cars and cre­ated the Panam­era. It was their an­swer to folks who are sick of their Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Se­ries. It promised sports-car-like han­dling with no com­pro­mise on com­fort and it duly de­liv­ered. It is a fan­tas­tic car on most ac­counts, but it had one pretty big prob­lem - it was quite ugly.

Good thing then that Porsche de­cided to un­veil a brand new Panam­era last year. The new Panam­era, co­de­named 971, looks much bet­ter. It can still look quite bul­bous from some an­gles, but over­all, it looks much sleeker and more pur­pose­ful. It also shares more styling cues with the 911, so it looks more like a stretched 911, which I think is not such a bad thing.

There are big changes in­side too. The en­tire driver’s cock­pit has been re­worked and it looks fan­tas­ti­cally posh and high-tech. Dom­i­nat­ing the dash­board is a new high-res­o­lu­tion 12inch touch­screen that is in­cred­i­bly uid and re­spon­sive to use. The in­ter­face is not the most in­tu­itive, but most own­ers should be able to gure things out quite eas­ily. The old Panam­era’s cen­ter con­sole used to be clut­tered with but­tons, but Porsche has de­cided

to do away with most of them in fa­vor of classier-look­ing touch-sen­si­tive con­trols.

The in­stru­ment clus­ter, how­ever, is a bit more tra­di­tional with a mix of ana­log and dig­i­tal coun­ters. In the cen­ter, you have a fairly stan­dard large ana­log rev-counter, but to its left and right are dig­i­tal coun­ters that have a fair amount of cus­tomiz­abil­ity. You can, for ex­am­ple, choose to show nav­i­ga­tion in­for­ma­tion or other en­gine and car pa­ram­e­ters like en­gine oil tem­per­a­ture or tire pres­sure. Rear oc­cu­pants also get a touch­screen con­trol in­ter­face of their own too, al­low­ing them to man­age their own cli­mate set­tings.

The Panam­era is avail­able in a be­wil­der­ing num­ber of vari­ants and the one I drove was the ba­sic Panam­era; no hy­brid pow­er­train, no four-wheel drive, no twin tur­bos. Nev­er­the­less, it wears a Porsche badge, so it is still pretty quick. Power comes from a 3.0-liter tur­bocharged V6 that de­vel­ops 325hp and 450nm of torque. That’s enough to pro­pel it to 100km/h in just 5.7 sec­onds and on­ward to a top speed of 264km/h.

If you are a long­time Porsche owner and have driven the 911, Boxster, or Cay­man, then this en­trylevel Panam­era is go­ing to feel a lit­tle in­ad­e­quate. The driv­ing dy­nam­ics are fan­tas­tic (more on this later), but it doesn’t feel quite quick enough. Best to pony up the ex­tra cash and opt for the more pow­er­ful Panam­era S. The S vari­ant serves up over 100hp more, re­duces the cen­tury sprint time to just 4.4 sec­onds, and in­creases the top speed to 289km/h, bring­ing the Panam­era’s straight line per­for­mance closer to the 911’s.

For­tu­nately, even though the ba­sic Panam­era feels a lit­tle slug­gish for my tastes, it still han­dles bril­liantly. Ri­vals like the S-Class, 7 Se­ries, and the A8 are cushier, but none of them can match the sporti­ness of the Panam­era. The steer­ing feel is ex­cel­lent for a car of its class, with lots of ac­cu­racy and feed­back. There’s a well­judged amount of body roll and the sus­pen­sion never feels too busy even with the ride turned up to its stiffest set­ting. It dis­guises its size well too, and I some­times for­get that I was driv­ing a large 4-door saloon that weighs close to two tons. A car this large shouldn’t han­dle this well. The only thing that you are acutely aware of as you drive along is its long wheel­base, which is ap­par­ent es­pe­cially when go­ing over humps. But as an en­tire pack­age, the new Panam­era, like its pre­de­ces­sor, de­liv­ers a great drive that is matched by few in its class.

Porsche has thor­oughly im­proved the Panam­era. It looks more pre­sentable, it has a swankier in­te­rior, and it drives bril­liantly. If you have the means, I can think of few 4-doors sa­loons that can of­fer as much driv­ing sat­is­fac­tion.

CON­CLU­SION This is eas­ily one of the best driv­ing large four-door sa­loons money can buy.

Rear oc­cu­pants are pam­pered with their own touch­screen in­ter­face.

The 12-inch touch­screen is won­der­fully re­spon­sive to use.

The cock­pit looks thor­oughly mod­ern and swanky.

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