PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO
VALUE This is expensive, even by Porsche standards. The flagship of the new Panamera range attracts about $100,000 in luxury car tax and it will be $404,500 on the road. The price climbs rapidly once a few extras are added, such as sports exhaust ($6950), 21-inch wheels ($6540), rear axle steering ($4990), sport chrono lap timing package ($4790), 18-way electrically adjustable front seats ($3190) and adjustable rear seats ($4690). The list goes on. DESIGN In Porsche’s second attempt at a sedan; the exterior styling is more cohesive than the first (2010-16). Greatest improvements are inside. The super high-resolution touchscreen has iPhone-style functionality and clarity. You can drag and drop favourite radio stations in the display. Metal switches and a “floating” piano-black panel for the aircon controls ooze luxury. The touchscreen adjusts the direction of the central air vent — that’s too complicated. Rear occupants have their own screen to view the navigation and more. ENGINE The twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 (404kW/770Nm) is matched to an eight-speed twin-clutch auto and all-wheel drive. It does a solid job of shifting the 2070kg sedan, doing 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds (we matched this using satellite timing gear). Even with the optional sports exhaust, it’s muted compared with the Mercedes. SAFETY Ten airbags are standard, as are automatic emergency braking and crash mitigation linked to radar cruise control (the beacons are in place of fog lights). Braking performance is incredible — six-piston calipers on metal discs pulled up from 100km/h to 0 in our test in a smidgen over 34m — up there with the best sports-cars and shorter than the AMG with optional F1-style carbon ceramic discs. DRIVING Despite the sporty looks, it’s a serene machine. Riding on air suspension, it feels like you’re on a pillow-top mattress. It rolls on the same Pirelli P Zero tyres as the AMG (albeit a different size). The Panamera is quieter than the Benz, possibly due to having more sound deadening material. The accuracy of the steering defies the senses. Downsides? The auto shifting can sometimes be too abrupt, thumping between changes.