New high-end Porsche mixes lux­ury and speed (196 mph)

- Mark Phelan

I think we can all agree that 2020’s a bum­mer, a ra­bid rac­coon that wan­dered into the back­yard and re­fuses to leave. Things can al­ways get bet­ter, right? They al­most have to, don’t they? Please? They will for sure if you’re shop­ping for a high-end Porsche next spring. I just spent an af­ter­noon driv­ing the 2021 Panam­era Turbo S sedan, a blistering­ly fast sport sedan that’s also a roomy all-wheel-drive lux­ury car. In a ster­ling ex­am­ple of Porsche’s abil­ity to walk and chew gum at the same time, the au­tomaker’s engi­neers honed this gaso­line-pow­ered large car to a ninja edge of per­for­mance at the same time the com­pany was de­vel­op­ing the fu­tur­is­tic zero-emis­sion Tay­can elec­tric sports car. The Turbo S – 620 hp and 604 pound-feet of torque, not to bury the lede – is one of four new blades in the Panam­era’s sheath for the 2021 model year. The oth­ers are the Turbo S Sport Turismo, an ex­tended-roof model that man­ages not to be com­pletely grace­less, and a pair of plug-in hy­brids, the 4S E-Hy­brid and 5.9-inch longer 4S E-Hy­brid Ex­ec­u­tive. All were de­vel­oped to make life un­com­fort­able for the new Mercedes S-Class, de­but­ing at the peak of Ger­man lux­ury this fall, and all are likely to suc­ceed. Driv­ing im­pres­sions The Panam­era’s sheer phys­i­cal pres­ence al­ways is a sur­prise, its size dis­guised by styling that leans heav­ily on the brand’s clas­sic 911 sports car. But the Panam­era Turbo S is 198.8 inches from nose to tail, longer than Porsche’s more ob­vi­ously large Cayenne SUV – not to men­tion nearly 3 inches longer than a Toy­ota Avalon. The Panam­era’s long hood, 911-style head­lights and fast­back com­bine to cre­ate the im­pres­sion of a smaller car. That changes when you slip in­side. The Panam­era is roomy, ad­vanced and lux­u­ri­ous. I spent an af­ter­noon driv­ing a pre­pro­duc­tion Panam­era Turbo S that’s so early it had Euro­pean soft­ware for smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity and nav­i­ga­tion. The com­puter man­ag­ing those func­tions is sup­posed to be quicker for ’21, but I didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence it. There’s plenty of head­room, and door open­ings big enough for easy en­try and exit from front or rear seat de­spite a rel­a­tively low roof. The front seat is roomy, with easy-to-use con­trols and plenty of stor­age. The touch screen is re­spon­sive, though some of its touch points are small enough to be a chal­lenge in a mov­ing car. Porsche’s con­fig­urable gauge clus­ter can dis­play maps and nav­i­ga­tion in­struc­tions in its right bin­na­cle. The Turbo S will be the Panam­era line’s per­for­mance king. Power is im­me­di­ate and stun­ning, ac­cel­er­at­ing to 60 mph in 2.9 sec­onds and ca­pa­ble of 196 mph — “on the track,” Porsche says with an eye on U.S. liability laws that be­wil­der Ger­man au­tomak­ers. The ad­di­tional power comes from new tur­bocharg­ers and fuel in­jec­tors on the 4.0L V8, which got ad­di­tional damp­ing to keep en­gine vi­bra­tion from in­trud­ing on the cabin. The in­te­rior is quiet at high­way speeds and in en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ing, de­spite the Turbo S’s grippy and ag­gres­sive 21-inch Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2 tires. The Turbo S’ han­dling is im­per­turbable in any sane ma­neu­ver on pub­lic roads. The steer­ing sys­tem was re-tuned to give the driver more feed­back. Porsche’s Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment sys­tem also got new cal­i­bra­tions. New equip­ment in­cludes stan­dard four-wheel steer­ing for im­proved ma­neu­ver­abil­ity and ce­ramic brakes with mas­sive stop­ping power. Vis­i­ble ex­te­rior changes in­clude new fas­cia and bigger front air in­lets. How much? Porsche won’t re­veal prices un­til the Turbo S goes on sale next spring, but ex­pect it to start around $180,000. The twin-turbo 4.0L V8, eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and per­for­mance tuned all­wheel drive are stan­dard. That’s a pretty good deal, es­sen­tially the cost of 21-inch wheels, sus­pen­sion and brake op­tions on a 2020 Panam­era Turbo, and a small premium for the en­gine up­grades, which boost horse­power 70 hp, torque 37 pound-feet, cut 0-60 time 7 sec­onds and in­crease top speed 6 mph. Ce­ramic brakes, rear steer­ing and 21-inch wheels – all op­tions on the 2020 Panam­era Turbo – will be stan­dard on the Turbo S. A full list of features and op­tion prices – it’s a Porsche; there will be op­tions – will be avail­able closer to when the Turbo S goes on sale in the spring.

 ?? PHO­TOS BY MARK PHELAN/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK ?? The styling of Porsche’s Panam­era Turbo S re­calls the clas­sic 911.
PHO­TOS BY MARK PHELAN/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK The styling of Porsche’s Panam­era Turbo S re­calls the clas­sic 911.
 ??  ?? The 2021 Porsche Panam­era Turbo S’s twin-turbo 4.0L V8 pro­duces 630 horse­power and 604 pound-feet of torque.
The 2021 Porsche Panam­era Turbo S’s twin-turbo 4.0L V8 pro­duces 630 horse­power and 604 pound-feet of torque.

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