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.

Virtuozity - - Brand -

“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.

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