BUYERS’ GUIDE: PANAMERA
Porsche’s Thunder Saloon analysed
Once Porsche knew it had weathered the storm of protest that greeted the launch of what was not only its first four-door car but also a chunky SUV of no great beauty, the road to entering the prestige saloon market was cleared. Porsche purists did not like the idea of a Zuffenhausen off-roader, but it sold like hot cakes and all the fuss now seems absurd given that the big profits from the car aimed at US and Asian markets generates the profits that allow Porsche to indulge in sports cars like the GT3 and 918 Spyder.
The second step in Porsche’s aim of becoming a 100,000 unit per year carmaker was to build a Mercedes and BMW chaser, a spacious four-door car that the prosperous 911 owner might like in the garage, too, for when family or business duty called. That was to be called the Panamera which, after a protracted period of teaser photos and information being dripfed to the media to soften the blow of Porsche moving yet further away from its sport car roots, made its world debut in late April 2009 in China, at Auto Shanghai.
The idea was to offer something more than another executive cruiser, but something that looked like a luxurious, fourdoor 911. Like the stillborn 989, a frontengined, four-door GT styled on 911 lines and shown in 1998, in fact.
The “Grand Turismo” car, as Porsche labelled it, went on sale in mid-september 2009, and within three months 10,000 had been built at the Leipzig plant it shared with the Cayenne. Nine years on, and with a second generation model on sale since 2013, the Panamera is an established driver of the Porsche money making machine, accounting for a significant proportion of the company’s sales.
Of course, when a manufacturer of prestige cars suddenly extends production it can have a nuclear effect on product quality and secondhand values – just ask Mercedes-benz and BMW. So has Porsche fallen into the same trap, the result large numbers of depreciated cars on the market that used car buyers shun, or has Zuffenhausen pulled off the trick of selling large numbers of Panameras while keeping it exclusive? Here we look at the first generation Panameras and outline what to look for and how much to pay.
The Panamera was launched in a three model range: the Panamera S and fourwheel-drive 4S using the same Cayennebased 4.8-litre, normally aspirated V8 engine producing 395bhp and 369lb ft torque, and the Turbo powered by a twin turbo V8 of the same capacity good for 493bhp and a hefty 516lb ft torque (increased to 567lb ft on Sports Chrono overboost). Both engines had the new Direct Fuel Injection of the time, plus the also then new fuel saving device, Auto Start Stop which cuts the engine in stationary traffic. The seven-speed PDK automatic transmission was standard on all three cars (although the S could be ordered as a sixspeed manual), while adaptive air suspension was standard on the Turbo.
Much was made of the rear seat luxury, there being two individually sculpted seats, with eight-way electrical adjustment as
standard and various other options such as adaptive and comfort seats available. Fourzone air-conditioning was offered as an extra, allowing each occupant to set up their own “climate”. No effort was spared on the sound system, the 1000-watt, 16speaker system designed by Berlin Audio specialist Burmester. Prices ranged from £72,300 to £95,300, slightly above the 911.
The first additions to the range came in June 2010 in the form of new entry models, the Panamera and Panamera 4, both using an all-new, Porsche-designed 3.6-litre V6 (Porsche had previously been embarrassed over its use of a VW V6 in the Cayenne) producing 296bhp/295lb ft torque, and the 4 with the 4S/turbo’s “active” all-wheel-drive.
Then in September of that year the Turbo was offered with a Powerkit – the twin turbos were uprated, and the ECU tweaked – delivering an extra 40bhp, shaving the 0–62mph down from 4.2 to 3.9sec. A Porsche Exclusive factory option at £11,118, it could also be retro-fitted. At the same time, the Sport Design Package bodykit was offered for £2500, as was a sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles, an alternative to Porsche’s original and unsatisfactory steering wheel button shifters. Both these items were also factory order or retro-fit.
In February 2011 the Panamera went electric, the new S Hybrid model using the Audi-derived 3.0-litre, supercharged V6 producing a combined 375bhp/428lb ft torque when the electric motor kicked in. It could go a whole 1.3 miles on battery power alone. One month later a model at the opposite end of the spectrum – and which saw a favourite Porsche “sub brand” extended – was introduced, the Turbo S. This was effectively a model with the Powerkit, featuring turbochargers with titanium-aluminium turbine wheels, giving 542bhp and 590lb ft torque on overboost.
Always a reluctant builder of diesel cars, Porsche slipped the Panamera Diesel into showrooms in August 2011, another model to borrow Audi power, the 3.0-litre V6 rated at 247bhp/406lb ft torque. The oil burner did 0–62mph in under seven seconds, made 150mph and gave close on 40mpg.
Another flavour badge, GTS, was attached to the Panamera in February 2012 to produce a super-sporty, normally aspirated model. The 4.8-litre engine was uprated to 424bhp/384lb ft and sat in an airsuspended chassis lowered 10mm and with tauter damping. A Sport-design body kit upped the visuals on the outside, and special trim, including “GTS” logos on the headrests, adorned the cabin. The gen 2 Panamera appeared in April 2013.
DRIVING THE PANAMERA
The Panamera drives as you would expect it to. You sit almost as low as in a 911 and have the same surroundings, only more space. Familiar Porsche instruments are ahead, and driver and passenger are separated by the usual huge transmission tunnel covered in rows of switches. The interior feels solid and high quality, possibly more so than in a Mercedes of the same era.
Sharp steering and fairly stiff suspension make the Panamera agile and enjoyable, its considerable size seeming to shrink around you with familiarity. The Turbo and Turbo S are a feast of power and torque, and the atmospheric S model isn’t short of breath either, while the V6 petrol and diesel have more than enough pace for every day driving. Seat comfort is excellent, but the firm suspension and big wheels are
there to remind you that you’re in a Porsche, giving a firm ride.
WHAT YOU’LL PAY
You’ll find lots of diesels for sale, because they accounted for over half of all new 970s delivered in the UK. Panameras, regardless of model, are still expensive, Porsche having had the good fortune to sell relatively high numbers without inducing heavy depreciation, at least compared to rivals. For example, a Panamera S from 2009 with 70,000 miles has a “retail” or forecourt price of £28,300, and a “trade” value (equal to what a private seller could expect) of about £23,000; the nearest Mercedes-benz equivalent costing the same new, a CLS 63 AMG, of the same age and mileage would be £16,700 retail and £14,150 trade.
The very cheapest model with average mileage will be a 2010 Panamera, which is going to cost a little over £20,000 privately, with used car dealers asking £26,000. If you want the S or 4S, add around £4000 to both figures, and if it’s to be a Turbo, expect to pay at least £30,000 privately and £36,000 on the forecourt. To buy below £20,000, the only likely possibility is the 3.6-litre car, an early, 2010 example and probably with high mileage, likely to fetch £17,000 in a private sale or at auction. Note that the Panamera Diesel is only Euro 5 emissions spec, and therefore will incur the heavier penalty in London’s forthcoming extended Ultra Low Emissions Zone.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ENGINE
The powertrain is the main, and possibly so far the only, significant trouble spot on any of the Panamera models, according to Steve Mchale, director at Hertfordshire based Porsche specialist JZM. ‘The early V8 S engines suffer from heavy carbon build-up on the backs of the inlet valves, and they are also prone to injector clogging,’ he tells us. ‘This will cause a misfire and possibly an engine warning light. ‘He adds that it is worse if the Panamera has the PDK automatic gearbox – that’s most if not all UK cars –
possibly because these Panameras, despite their motorway-eating ability, seem to get a lot of use in town, where revs rarely exceed 2000rpm.
Another common issue, and one very familiar to these who work on Cayennes with the same V8s, is the likelihood of a coolant leak from the engine. ‘Early eightcylinder engines had poorly designed water coolant pipes in the middle of the vee under the inlet manifold, which tend to fail and leak,’ Steve explains. ‘But you can get a modified set from Porsche.’ Some Porsche specialists offer alloy pipe upgrades. Engine ancillaries that fail include the high-pressure fuel pump and the ignition coil.
Glitches affected the first cars’ seven-speed gearbox. ‘Early cars had PDK transmission shift issues,’ Steve reveals. ‘Re-programing and shift adaption [checking the clutch bite point and the gear shift rod movement] can go some way to fixing the problem – but there is a risk of the ECU and or the gearbox crashing midway through the process, resulting in the need for a gearbox and ECU replacement.’
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES
Steve reports no particular issues, though high mileage cars need to be checked out carefully. ‘Shock absorbers are likely to be worn out on high mileage cars, and because the cars are heavy, they get through discs and pads quickly, and they also wear out their tyres quickly.’
For the Porsche enthusiast who can no longer fit everything into a 911 or a Cayman or Boxster, the Panamera is a logical step. It retains a genuine “Porscheness”, offering a sporty drive but also incorporating the refinement you’d expect.
With even the earliest Panameras only eight years old, the usual problems we regularly report do not apply. You should not see any bodywork rust, serious electrical problems or tired looking interiors. However, the early cars do have their problems so need to be checked out properly, especially as – unlike most other prestige cars nearing a decade old – values remain relatively high. But find a good one, of which there are many for sale, and you won’t be disappointed. PW
SPOTTED FOR SALE
Private seller 2011/11 Panamera 4S, blue, grey leather, Bose sound, 77,355 miles, £26,995, Kent
Prestige car specialist 2010/10 Panamera V6, Blue, ivory leather, 19-inch Turbo wheels, 47,000 miles, £30,989, Surrey jct9.com
Porsche Centre 2013/63 Panamera Diesel, brown, grey leather, 20-inch Sport wheels, 53,800 miles, £36,490 Porsche Centre Bristol
The Panamera has serious road presence if not good looks, with its rather blunt nose. It is, however, a fine way to travel
This is a luxury car and a Grand Tourer, so the interior refects that. It also introduced the elevated style centre console, which has been a staple of Porsche interior design now across all models. Right: 4.8litre, 395bhp V8 in Panamera 4S
It’s actually a hatchback! Tailgate offers impressive practicality and the seats fold to give a useful load area
With its styling cues taken from the 911, the Panamera looks quite unlike anything else on the road and is certainly distinct from its opposition