The all new Porsche Panamera tested
WITH A NEW SILHOUETTE AND SOME SERIOUS TECH UNDER THE SKIN, PORSCHE HAS LAUNCHED THE SECOND GENERATION OF ITS POPULAR PANAMERA COUPE. VIRTUOZITY WAS THERE TO SEE IF IT STILL HAS THE GT SPIRIT.
“On the road, it is of course, fast, comfortable and Teutonic in the way it deals with long distance. You really can cover vast distances in a Panamera in a very short space of time.”
IF, BACK IN 2002, Porsche thought that launching an SUV was controversial, then launching a long wheelbase GT in 2009, using that famous 911 shape, was almost a push too far for picky Porschephiles. Yes, it wasn’t the prettiest, but for chewing up highway miles it was frankly devastating and could comfortably seat an entire family and their luggage.
And the numbers bear out Porsche’s decision. The Panamera was, despite its critics, a success. It appeared Porsche men really did need a GT car to move his ever growing family around. As the range of engines grew and grew, so did the width of its appeal, bringing a lot of previously non-porsche customers under the influence of that famous badge.
Porsche’s next job was to replace it after a long-ish run (for the motor industry) of seven years, but more importantly make it better than before.
At first glance it’s a sea change. Gone is that controversial roof hump, replaced with a beautiful curving line that could easily have been lifted directly from the 911. At the rear the lights wrap around from one side to the other, again a new 911 design feature, albeit one that harks back to the eighties Porsche style guide.
The front also seems tighter, with less width to the design, pulling all the lines neatly into the centre of the car. What Porsche’s designers appear to have done is to finally have created a proper fourdoor 911.
Inside, you still get those Porsche quirks that people love so much. The key is on the left of the steering wheel, near the door, as per all previous sports
“Under the hood, there’s a choice of a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine in the Panamera 4S, or a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in the Panamera Turbo.”
models. This stems from when Porsche raced at Le Mans and the drivers where still doing the sprint start, where the driver had to run across the track, leap in, start the car and get going. Putting the key on the left allowed the driver to start the car a few seconds quicker than the opposition. It’s a nice nod to the brand’s heritage, something Porsche fans will appreciate.
The infotainment system however is something very new. A huge central display houses all your onboard controls and the screen can be configured entirely to your liking. If music is more important to you than climate, then you can make one bigger and the other smaller. The whole system can be tailor-made to suit your taste. It’s also easy to use as it works on a similar principle to tablet or phone apps. You simply drag and drop.
Under the hood, there’s a choice of a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine in the Panamera 4S, or a new 4.0-litre twin-
turbo V8 in the Panamera Turbo. The figures speak for themselves with the 4S producing 440 hp, a 20 hp increase from the previous model. With the Sport Chrono Package fitted it’ll reach 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 289 km/h.
The Turbo pumps out 550 hp at 5,750 rpm, with 770 Nm of torque. That’s 30 hp more than its predecessor as well as an increase of 70 Nm. 100 km/h pops up in just 3.6 seconds, with the Sport package. Top speed is north of 300 km/h. Amazingly both cars come with lower fuel consumption levels than the previous model, despite the hike in power.
On the road, it is of course, fast, comfortable and Teutonic in the way it deals with long distance. You really can cover vast distances in a Panamera in a very short space of time. This is exactly what its built for and Porsche has got it spot on.there’s also the addition of new suspension and four-wheel steering, which when combined seem to shrink the car’s measurements when hustling it through tight turns. The Panamera now feels more like a 911 than a large GT, as the rear assistance makes it turn more sharply and allows you to be more accurate with where you place the car on the road.
One thing that will certainly have you grinning from ear to ear is the launch control system, which is one of the simplest of any manufacturer you’ll ever use. Just make sure the car is in Sport +, put your left foot hard on the brake pedal, floor the accelerator and release the brake. Just remember to brake before you hit 300.
It’s hard to find anything to dislike about the new model. Yes, the dashboard will take some getting used to, and there’s a lot going on there to distract the driver, but it’s all very clever and intuitive for anyone familiar with a tablet.
It’s also still a big car and feels big to drive. A 911 fits you like a glove, but the Panamera is more like a big, luxurious winter coat. With its curved front and rear disappearing from site, it’s hard to judge, but then there’s now more than enough technology to take care of such vulgarities as parking and reversing.
For Porsche lovers, the new Panamera may be the model to tempt them out of their 911s. But more importantly, it should tempt new customers to try the Stuttgart badge for their next GT.
So far, it seems 2017 is going to be a very good year for four-door Porsches.