ROAD TEST Porsche Panamera Panamera shapes luxury four-door travel
THERE was much curiosity surrounding the arrival of the Porsche Panamera in the company car park. The question “what is it?” quickly brought on other questions.
View it front on and the familiar bonnet shape tells you it’s Porsche. View it side on and its long swooping profile plus the four doors spells a different story to the usual sportscar performance related one.
Broad-based (2.1m wide), the Panamera is a luxury sports hatchback, its four leather-wrapped individual seats, as opposed to rear bench, is further food for thought.
Porsche claims it is a cross between a sports coupé, limousine and estate. A rounded sloping nose, side gills and two sets of twin exhausts are key styling cues, add up to a distinctly Porsche design. Purposeful, brooding even - you know it is going to deliver meaty performance, but elegant it is not.
Inside, the Panamera is sumptuous, swathed in highquality leather and wood trim, and those four seats and bags of room for all occupants.
The sloping console is littered with an array of switches operating everything from the four-zone climate control to the Sport button. This would take some getting used to, but not exactly a chore.
Get an opportunity to put the Panamera through its paces at the Porsche Driving Experience Centre, at Silverstone, under simulated conditions of low friction, rain and ice, and it excels.
The model on test, the 4S four-wheel drive variant, is a very fine performer. Given its generous dimensions – it is a whisker less than 5m - it’s as agile as any car of this size has a right to be, even in the heavier 4WD version.
It’s imbued with plenty of Porsche’s sporting DNA.
Under its skin beats the heart of 4.8-litre V8 power, naturally aspirated, delivering almost 400 horsepower. It goes like a bat out of hell, accelerating to 62mph in five seconds and on to claimed 175mph top speed.
Transfer of power is elicited via Porsche’s PDK “double clutch” auto transmission, with manual option operated via steering wheel buttons.
At mega speeds, the car is very stable, courtesy of a super chassis and the downforce provided by the 3D pop-up tail spoiler.
The car comes with air suspension and Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM), which allows you to choose between three settings – Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus. In the firmest of these, the Panamera shows its “sporting” excellence by cornering flatly, generating oodles of
grip and offering steering that is responsive and direct.
It’s good, but don’t expect the same degree of fun as you would in a Boxster or 911 - it’s simply too big for that ideal.
But in Comfort mode, it’s almost limo-like, whether you’re simply trawling through town or sitting serenely at high speeds on motorways noticing scenery whizz by. At the same time, you know there is reservoirs of potency at your toe tips should you need to pass that lumbering lorry.
Practicality is satisfactory, the rather shallow boot has 445 litres of space and, with the seats folded down, this increases to an impressive
1,250 litres. But it is sufficient to take four people and their luggage across Europe. A transcontinental express
You’ll pay £72,266 for the Standard S version, another £5k for the 4S, and £95,000plus for the whoppingly powerful Turbo.
The Panamera is mightily impressive in an ever-growing market sector. It’s almost £15K dearer than the Jaguar XFR but has more rear space, considerably cheaper than the elegant Aston Martin Rapide, less alluring than the Maserati Quattroporte.