Porsche Panamera GTS
The latest Panamera packs 460 PS and a Sport Plus mode too ferocious to inflict on passengers. Yet, if you dial things down, it’s a consummate cruiser
Porsche’s multi-talented new Panamera
If you happen to be in the market for a Porsche Panamera, you now have more choices than ever. In the 400 to 500 PS bracket alone there are three models: 4 E-Hybrid (£81,141, that is, Rs 73 lakh, 462 PS, V6, plus electric motor), 4S (£90,291, that is, Rs 81.3 lakh, 440 PS, V6), and now this, the new GTS (£105,963, that is, Rs 95.4 lakh, 460 PS, V8). Why choose the GTS? Among the lesser reasons is that it’s the first Panamera with a trick head-up display showing up to six elements chosen by the driver (sat-nav, speed, warnings, etc). Thankfully, this means you don’t have to look at the dashboard — since it was redesigned in 2016, every square inch is filled with new dials, screens, buttons, switches, and touch panels. It looks great in the brochure, but is confusingly complex on the road.
The GTS gets a body-kit comprising contrasting sill extensions, full-width dark skirts front and rear, black window trim and bespoke quad tailpipes. There are also black wheels and an interior composed of charcoal Alcantara and bright polished aluminium. And just in case you forget what you’ve bought, prominent GTS logos on the headrests and rev-counter let you know.
But the main reason to splash out on a GTS is how it feels. For a start, it’s faster than the others — despite being marginally down on power compared to the Hybrid, it out-sprints the 4E to 100 km/h by 4.1 against 4.6 seconds. At 295 km/h, it is also 14 km/h faster.
However, the difference between the GTS and the 4S is not just 20 PS and 70 Nm of torque; it’s also about how the 4.0-litre V8 behaves compared to the 3.0-litre V6. The V8 is heavier and uses more fuel (9.8 versus 12.4 km/l), but it’s a much more exciting powerplant with a wider range of talents.
The first section of the torque curve looks like the north face of the Eiger, the sports exhaust sweeps the streets clean in bellowing aggro mode, and the eightspeed DCT hammers through the gears. Everything about the GTS is firmer, tighter, noisier, less compromising, and more focused. The steering works with an extra dash of enthusiasm, the chassis sits fractionally lower, the active dampers are more sportily tuned, and the rear-wheel steering increases the low-speed chuckability while enhancing highspeed directional stability. car india
The E-Hybrid, meanwhile, has efficiency written all over its inoffensive chops. It’s a torquemeister, and, at 40.6 km/l, it is, on paper, as fuel-efficient as a gently ridden moped. Up against this, the new GTS loses out in the value-for-money equation.
It’s not a lightweight special either, in BMW M5/AMG E 63/ Jaguar Project 8 style. To challenge that lot you’d have to lay your hands on the 680-PS Turbo S E-Hybrid, which doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway because top speed is almost meaningless outside Germany.
What does matter everywhere is driving pleasure and that’s where the GTS scores exceedingly well. In true Porsche style, the driving pleasure here is all about involvement and interaction, the dialogue between input and response. Although it can seat four (or, at a pinch, five) and hold 500 litres of luggage, this Panamera is first and foremost a driver’s car which tolerates passengers only so long as they are fearless and immune to motion sickness. Which can be an issue when the captain twists the Sport Response button from Normal to Sport Plus. In this mode, you’d better brace yourself for feral throttle response, truly physical gear-changes and a radical mix of very late redline-induced upshifts and shockingly early downshifts.
It can be a totally laid-back long-distance cruiser or a hardcore high-speed autobahnmeister. It weighs in with oodles of grip, traction, and roadholding and yet it won’t shake the marrow from your bones when the going gets tough. Although it has AWD, ESP, adaptive dampers and four-wheel steering, turning the drive mode selector to Sport Plus is all it takes to trigger a change of attitude.
The sound of the engine changes, but more significant is the alteration in the steering: it attempts to make the car feel lighter, shorter, narrower, and generally less of a porker. It succeeds to an extent, but a brisk turn-in puts about a tonne of front axle weight into your palms and unwinding lock at the limit calls for perfect timing. To explore the handling characteristics unique to the GTS, switch off ESP, find a secondgear corner and wait for the drizzle to turn into rain. Thanks to all-wheel drive and the senior chip controller, the change in attitude from neutral to tail-happy is progressive, balanced, and quite subtle by Porsche standards.
Instead of showing off, the brakes also simply do their job. Effort is unremarkable, pedal feel is progressive, response is immediate, deceleration is mind-boggling, fade is non-existent.
If money is no object, Porsche will happily equip your Panamera GTS with carbon ceramic brakes, a 48-volt system complete with electrohydraulic anti-roll bars, and torque vectoring. All this is nice to have but it adds weight, the dynamic improvements are marginal, and in any case this is not a g-chasing sports car. The charm of the GTS is its ability to unite the best of both worlds. www.carindia.in
( Above) GTS sits low and gains a body-kit; rear wing pops out at speed
( Above) Cruise to the track in classleading comfort, turn a knob, go loopy
( Below) Alcantaraheavy interior is just for the GTS. It’s the first Panamera with HUD