Porsche Panamera 2017
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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.