A grander tourer
The second generation Panamera is everything the first one wasn’t
THE second iteration of Porsche’s Panamera is everything the first strived to be: a seriously quick, luxurykitted grand tourer that pays homage to the 911 without being an engorged derivative.
This Panamera is also, fittingly, the technology flagship of the Porsche line-up. Separate sensors at each corner monitor acceleration, yaw, suspension and body movement and electronically adjust the threechamber air springs, dampers, roll-bars and all-wheel-drive torque delivery to maximise performance in what Porsche calls “4D chassis control”.
That sort of engineering expertise is expected in a Porsche. What isn’t in an internal layout with an intuitive 12.3-inch touchscreen for most car functions and a sensor surrounding the gear lever with switches for the heating controls, suspension and seat heating/cooling, all giving off a solid haptic “pulse” through the glass when touched.
The driver’s display is likewise a big central analog tacho with an inset digital speedo, flanked by a pair of seven-inch screens showing configurable “Speed and Assist” functions on the left and “Car and Info” details on the right.
Another display between the rear seats lets those down back control their own heating system and adjust the seats. It’s a long, long way from the button-festooned interior of its predecessor and looks classy without challenging the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe for outright luxury.
A longer wheelbase contributes to the extra legroom and back seat headroom shouldn’t be an issue.
Despite the stretched platform the Panamera belies its 5-metre length, at least when fitted with the $4990 rear-wheel steering option. The rear wheels move in the opposite direction to the front at speeds up to 50km/h to improve cornering angle. The most obvious example is the tightening in turning circle from 11.9m to 11.4m when the rear-steer is fitted. At higher speeds the back wheels follow the front to help with cornering stability.
Beyond the hi-tech driving and display aids, the Panamera provides a hugely stable platform to exploit the performance of Porsche’s new engines and equally new eightspeed dual-clutch auto.
The range is being rolled out gradually, starting with the 4S, 4S diesel and Turbo variants on sale now. They’ll be joined by the Panamera and Panamera 4 in April and May, and the Ehybrid in the third quarter.
ON THE ROAD
Carsguide drove the 324kW/550Nm 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo Panamera S and the 404kW/770Nm 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo Panamera Turbo at launch and concentrated on the latter because most of the early orders are for the $379,000 flagship.
Early adopters won’t be disappointed, although the Turbo will be a $400,000 car before on-roads by the time it’s optioned with some of Porsche’s go-fast gear.
That includes the Sports Chrono pack, which for $4790 sharpens performance and trims the 100km/h time to 3.6 seconds, dynamic chassis control with torque vectoring for $10,990, composite brakes for $20,980 and a sports exhaust from $6950.
In that guise the Panamera is the fastest, most agile and driver-focused grand tourer on the market.
The Panamera is a big car and its size and heft can be felt on a flowing downhill run but the communication from the electromechanical steering and the bite from the brakes still encourages you to have a crack. Acceleration is instantaneous in sports mode and the engine is still building power until just 800rpm shy of the 6800rpm redline. For the record, the Panamera Turbo hits 200km/h in 13 seconds.
The suspension’s stretch of capability is another highlight. Leave the steering-wheel mounted mode selector in normal and the Panamera impresses by isolating the occupants from the worst of the pockmarked bitumen. Flick into sport and there’s noticeably less give in the suspension, while sports plus is best left for autobahns and track days.
Over-engineered without being over-complicated, the Panamera is the sportiest of the big coupe-styled cruisers and it finally has the looks inside and out to match the mechanicals.