Porsche has toyed with the idea of offering a four-door sedan in the past. The company even built a couple of design studies, but if you ever saw them you would know why they never made it to production. Suffice it to say, they were ugly. Recognizing the sales potential for a sport tourer, Porsche is offering its first sedan for 2010. Developed to take on the likes of the Audi A8, BMW M5 and 7 Series, Maserati Quattroporte, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the 2010 Panamera offers luxury and interior refinement never before seen from Porsche. Whether this grandiose grand tourer is better looking than those earlier design exercises is in the eye of the beholder, but it certainly offers power and handling worthy of a Porsche. Let’s take a look at 10 things potential buyers should know when considering the new Panamera.
Photos courtesy of Porsche
#10. The Panamera is no entry-level sedan, starting at $89,000 and heading way north from there.
The Panamera is the fourth model in the Porsche stable, joining the 911, Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne. It is offered in S, 4S and Turbo models, all with seating for four and V8 power. Pricing for the S model starts at $89,000, the 4S at $93,800, and the Turbo at $132,600. The S model has rear-wheel drive, while the 4S and Turbo have all-wheel drive with a rear-drive bias. Leather upholstery is standard, as are a host of luxury amenities. And buyers who want to personalize their cars can choose from a slew of options as well as a wide array of interior trim choices. At these prices, if you want it, you can get it.
#9. With regard to design, The Porsche Panamera had to look that way.
Packaging and heritage determined the Panamera’s looks. Porsche says the Panamera had to have a coupe-like profile for a sporty look, the backseat room of a sedan, and the cargo utility of a wagon. Porsche opted for a hatchback design because it could accommodate all three criteria. The car also had to have to a family resemblance. In other words, it had to look like a 911. Those influences are obvious in the signature rear haunches, the fenders that sit higher than the hood, and the round rear end. We feel that Porsche was too married to the 911 design, though. The extra length needed for four doors makes the car look tail-heavy. In person, it looks great from some angles, and just plain awkward from others.
#8. The Porsche Panamera might have four doors, but it’s fast as hell.
The Panamera Turbo can rocket from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 188 mph. That’s as fast as a Ferrari F430. Providing the motivation is a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 making 500 horses and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. All that power knocks you back in your seat and doesn’t let up, or even diminish, until you back off the gas. The Panamera S and 4S models are no slouches either. They use a normally aspirated version of the same 4.8-liter V8 that produces 400 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. The S model reaches 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and the extra traction of the all-wheel-drive system knocks 0.4 seconds off that time in the 4S, making it quicker than a Dodge Challenger SRT8. The S models top out at 175 mph. Both engines are mated to Porsche’s new Doppelkupplung (PDK) automated manual transmission.
#7. Like a true Porsche, the Panamera tackles corners with glee.
Driving on a 4.1-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, WI, we found the Panamera feels smaller than its considerable size (it’s almost as big as a BMW 7 Series). Thanks to a lightweight body and a low center of gravity, the car dives into turns willingly, stays impressively flat midturn, and then changes directions again with ease. Porsche’s direct, communicative steering lets you place the car exactly where you want it to go, and the long wheelbase helps it remain stable at speed. The work Porsche engineers did testing the car at the historic Nurburgring race circuit really paid off.
#6. The Panamera is a demon on the track and a kitten on the street.
Employing advanced suspension technology, the Porsche Panamera is highly adaptable to various conditions. Active Suspension Management comes standard, with a Comfort mode that helps the suspension soak up road imperfections and a Sport setting that makes the ride firmer, but not harsh. Standard on Turbo and optional otherwise is an adaptive air suspension that can raise or lower the car, helping the Panamera hunker down on tracks or rise up to clear curbs. Porsche’s optional Dynamic Chassis Control firms up the anti-roll bars to counteract body lean and disconnects them to improve straight line comfort on bumpy roads. Altogether, this suspension technology at the touch of a couple of buttons lets you transform the Panamera’s character from firm and race-track ready to smooth and refined.
#5. Interior appointments make the Panamera the most luxurious Porsche ever.
The Panamera’s interior sets a new high watermark for Porsche luxury. The interior ambiance is like a well-appointed den, with an attractive design featuring a leather-wrapped dash, careful assembly with tight fit and finish, and quality trim made of real wood, carbon fiber or aluminum. Rich partial-grained leather upholstery is standard in one of three colors, and six all-leather colors are available, as are four two-tone options. Audiophiles will appreciate the $1,440 14-speaker, 585-watt Bose audio system or the super high-end $5,690 16-speaker, 1000-watt Burmester stereo. The Burmester system, especially, is so clear that you’d swear you’re riding along with live musicians. Bottom line, the Panamera interior is a very pleasant place to be and it’s worthy of the competitors the Panamera is targeting.
#4. You can add on a Porsche Boxster's worth of options to the Panamera. Literally, like $60,000.
Porsche buyers are well-heeled and the company has no problem letting them spend to their hearts’ content. Adding on every available option to the Panamera Turbo will total $193,000 -- that’s $60,000 in options! Included are several Porsche Exclusives, an option program designed to help owners personalize their cars. Among the more indulgent of extras are the $2,950 Sport Exhaust system with an adjustable exhaust note, $1,750 carbon fiber door sill guards, $675 leather-wrapped rearview mirror, $1,050 mahogany heated steering wheel and $8,840 carbon ceramic brakes.
#3. An NBA point guard could probably fit in the back seat of a Panamera.
Now-deposed Porsche president and CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, who stands 6'4", insisted that the Panamera have enough rear head room for his considerable frame. The plentiful rear head- and leg-room and the standard full-length center console make the Panamera a fine chauffeur-driven vehicle as well as an engaging driver’s car. The rear seat offers numerous amenities as well, including heated and ventilated eight-way adjustable power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a large rear center console, sunshades on the rear window and rear side windows, and dual rear DVD screens.
#2. With the Panamera you get a sports car AND a family sedan (assuming you have 2 or fewer kids).
Unlike Porsche sports cars, the Panamera can accommodate a family and their stuff. The 911, Boxster and Cayman all offer limited passenger and cargo space, but the Panamera excels in these areas. It has room for four adults and the hatchback design provides useful cargo space. With the rear seats up, there is 15.6 cubic feet of storage space in the back, about the size of a large sedan’s trunk. But you can fold those seats down and open up 44.2 cubic feet of cargo volume, which will accommodate three carry-on-sized pieces of luggage. If you need just one car and really want a fun-to-drive Porsche, the Panamera is an excellent choice.
#1. The Porsche Panamera is reasonably priced…compared to the competition.
While the Panamera is quite expensive, it’s well equipped, offers a lot for the money and compares well with its competitors. The A8, 7 Series and S-Class range in price from $74,000 to $88,000, but they’re pure luxury sedans, without the handling verve of the Panamera. The BMW M5 is a wonderful car that starts at $84,000, but not even it has the depth of rock-solid engineering that is typical for Porsche. The Maserati Quattroporte, which is closest to the Panamera in terms of handling and room, costs a minimum $120,000. Be sure to go easy on the options, though, because the Panamera loses its value proposition if you load it with extras.