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

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Ge­org Kacher

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

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