Formidable piece of machinery
That V8 engine immediately takes centre stage thanks to its burbly soundtrack and super flat torque curve. You’ve basically got 620Nm to play with from 1,800rpm all the way up to nearly 5,000rpm, which gives it some enviable punch when exiting corners.
It’s put down well too: Porsche’s active all-wheel drive system makes sure all that muscle is delivered to the tarmac without any tyre-smoking drama. Complemented by a long wheelbase you get a car that feels incredibly stable when you turn the wick up — especially through the faster high-speed sweeps. Gear changes are handled by the firm’s excellent eight-speed PDK transmission that, when set to Sport Plus Mode, has your back through all bends. Even though there are paddles on the wheel you will never need to use them — it’s that good.
Night falls and my second session is held under artificial light. The layout has been switched to the full-fat Formula One circuit and there are a few tighter and more complicated corners thrown into the mix.
And the GTS hides its heft well when chucked through them thanks to its trick sports chassis. Not only does it sit 10mm lower to the ground than the regular Panamera but the active three-chamber air suspension system has been tweaked to deliver sharper handling on the ragged limit. Turn-in is mightily impressive for such a large machine while body roll is barely distinguishable.
You could be forgiven believing you were in a smaller vehicle. Yet for me the star of the dynamic show is the braking performance. Equipped with the optional carbon ceramics there is zero fade present here — even after three hot laps that include braking from 240km/h to about 60km/h in less than 100m. It’s quite astonishing.
THAT V8 ENGINE IMMEDIATELY TAKES CENTRE STAGE THANKS TO ITS BURBLY SOUNDTRACK AND SUPER FLAT TORQUE CURVE
But then the whole package is. Well, at least from what I can tell after driving it for a few short hours. You’re getting all the luxury of the lesser models plus a sportier exterior partnered to the kind of performance potential few owners will ever dream about channelling.
And if Porsche does land the Panamera GTS range at under R2m when it arrives here next year, well, then it’s something of a bargain too. See it then as the thinking man’s Turbo. Just not in Bahrain though: racetrack aside I think I’d be more comfortable taking a taxi.