ROAD TEST Porsche Panam­era Panam­era shapes lux­ury four-door travel

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Motors Today - john kralevich mo­tors re­porter

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.

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