POISE AND POWER: RE­VAMPED PANAMERA BOOSTS PORSCHE’S FOUR-SEATER SA­LOON

Porsche has com­pletely re­worked its lux­u­ri­ous four-door Panamera sports sa­loon. We take the top of the line­turbo model for a spin to see how it fares

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY SI­MON DAVIS

PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO

WHAT’S NEW? Pretty much ev­ery­thing, re­ally. The sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Panamera Turbo has been com­pletely re­worked from the ground up, fea­tur­ing im­proved styling, a more pow­er­ful en­gine and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy.

The new Panamera’s pro­por­tions have in­creased over those of the first-gen­er­a­tion model. The car is now 34mm longer, 6mm wider and 5mm taller, while the wheel­base has also been length­ened by 30mm.

Un­der the bon­net, Porsche has fit­ted a new four-litre, twin-turbo V8, which pow­ers all four wheels through an eight­speed, twin-clutch PDK gear­box.

While the Turbo’s pow­er­plant may have shrunk in com­par­i­son with its pre­de­ces­sor’s 4.8-litre V8, power is up 30bhp to 543bhp.

The Panamera Turbo now has more pulling power than ever be­fore, too, with the new car pro­duc­ing 770Nm com­pared with the old model’s 700Nm.

LOOKS AND IMAGE De­spite a num­ber of face lifts over the years, the first-gen­er­a­tion Panamera was never much of a looker.

While the new car has been dra­mat­i­cally im­proved in the looks depart­ment, you would still be hard-pressed to la­bel it a prop­erly at­trac­tive car.

Styling cues such as a new LED light bar that stretches across the rear end of the car help to link the Panamera to the rest of the cur­rent Porsche range — a sim­i­lar fea­ture also adorns the new 718 Boxster and Cay­man mod­els.

In ad­di­tion, trape­zoidal quad ex­hausts help dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Panamera Turbo from the new 4S and 4S Diesel mod­els.

The Panamera Turbo also fea­tures a new ex­tend­able rear wing, which splits as it de­ploys. Not only does this help with down-force and sta­bil­ity, it also looks in­cred­i­bly cool.

The Panamera’s in­te­rior has also been com­pletely re­worked. The ma­jor­ity of the tra­di­tional but­tons that fes­tooned the cen­tre con­sole on the old car have been done away with. Touch-sen­si­tive but­tons housed in smart-look­ing black panel sur­fac­ing now con­trol the ma­jor­ity of the Panamera’s fix­tures and fit­tings.

Although these new con­trols may not be as easy to use (or find) while on the move as tra­di­tional but­tons are, they cer­tainly make for an in­cred­i­bly at­trac­tive and lux­u­ri­ous-feel­ing cabin. The Panamera’s in­te­rior more than makes up for any mis­giv­ings the car’s ex­te­rior might in­spire.

Those fea­tures that aren’t op­er­ated through the but­tons on the cen­tre con­sole are con­trolled through the new 12.3-inch touch­screen in the cen­tre of the dash — even the air con­di­tion­ing. Other fea­tures con­trolled via this large, re­spon­sive screen in­clude the on­line sat nav, Ap­ple Carplay in­te­gra­tion, and chas­sis set-up con­trols, to name but a few.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY Like any ve­hi­cle that caters to­wards the pre­mium end of the sa­loon car sec­tion of the mar­ket, the Panamera will cer­tainly not leave you want­ing for space on the in­side.

Don’t be fooled into think­ing that the 20mm re­duc­tion in roof line height above the rear pas­sen­ger com­part­ment has in­fringed on space, as Porsche claims there is now more head­room avail­able for back seat pas­sen­gers than ever be­fore.

This is a win-win sit­u­a­tion, as the lower roof line makes the car ap­pear longer, lower and ul­ti­mately, bet­ter look­ing. Rear pas­sen­gers also won’t feel short­changed when it comes to head­room. As you would ex­pect from a car of this na­ture, rear legroom is plen­ti­ful.

From a prac­ti­cal­ity point of view, the Panamera has been im­proved yet again. Boot space is up by 50 litres over the old model, reach­ing 495 litres with the rear seats in place. Fold the back seats down and this fig­ure is in­creased to 1,304 litres of lug­gage ca­pac­ity.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL One thing rapidly be­comes ap­par­ent the mo­ment you set off in the Panamera Turbo: the huge amount of power the 4.0-litre V8 is ca­pa­ble of putting down on the road. Pro­duc­ing 543bhp, this new en­gine helps shift the car from 0-62mph in 3.8 sec­onds and on to a top speed of 190mph.

In a car this vast, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such ac­cel­er­a­tion feels rather sur­real, yet in­cred­i­bly ad­dic­tive. There is the tini­est amount of turbo lag when you first plant your foot, but as soon as the tur­bos kick in you’ll find your­self rock­et­ing up to speeds that cer­tainly wouldn’t please the lo­cal con­stab­u­lary. While the V8 doesn’t make the an­gri­est or most ex­cit­ing noise in the world, at the end of the day it’s still a V8, which means it sounds good — if a lit­tle re­served.

The op­tional Sport Re­sponse but­ton is also a great toy to play with, sum­mon­ing the Panamera’s max­i­mum power for 20 sec­onds. Once pressed, the en­gine’s re­sponse is dra­mat­i­cally sharp­ened, as is the shift fe­roc­ity of the PDK gear­box. This all adds up to you be­ing thrown into the back of the com­fort­able, sup­port­ive seats.

Through the cor­ners, all-wheel drive cou­pled with the op­tional ac­tive rear­wheel steer­ing sys­tem we had on our test car mean you never re­ally feel like you’re go­ing to run out of grip. The car’s steer­ing is also well weighted and gives a pleas­ing amount of feed­back.

Trundling around town, the Panamera is in­cred­i­bly re­fined and com­fort­able, with road noise kept to a min­i­mum.

Put the car on the mo­tor­way and it’s much the same story. This is a great cruis­ing ma­chine, with wind noise be­ing the only intrusion you might no­tice as you push on. That said, even at speeds of up to 125mph on the German au­to­bahn you still won’t find the in­creased wind noise all that an­noy­ing.

VALUE FOR MONEY Com­pared with its clos­est ri­vals, the Panamera Turbo could al­most be con­sid­ered some­thing of a bar­gain. Porsche throws in plenty of kit as stan­dard for the £113,075 you’ll pay for a Panamera Turbo.

This in­cludes fea­tures such as full leather up­hol­stery, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion dis­played on the large 12.3-inch touch­screen, DAB ra­dio, Blue­tooth and Ap­ple Carplay for easy iphone con­nec­tiv­ity. You can even make your Panamera a wire­less hotspot for in­ter­net ac­cess on the fly.

Con­sid­er­ing that a Maserati Qu­at­tro­porte GTS or Mercedes-amg S63 will set you back at least £115,980 and £127,675 re­spec­tively, the Panamera does make a fairly strong case for it­self. Be wary of Porsche’s in­fa­mously ex­pen­sive op­tions list, how­ever...

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? The Panamera Turbo will ap­peal to any­one who is after a large, lux­u­ri­ous sa­loon that is both ca­pa­ble of fer­ry­ing them around in a com­posed and com­fort­able man­ner, yet pow­er­ful enough to give them a proper adren­a­line rush when the mood takes them.

Re­mem­ber, this car con­quered the Nur­bur­gring in 7 min­utes 38 sec­onds, so if you want a car you can spend a day blast­ing around a track in be­fore cruis­ing leisurely back home, this could be the one for you.

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