Porsche’s Thun­der Sa­loon an­a­lysed

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

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.


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.


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.


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.’


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


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

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

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