New-gen Panamera promises more Porsche DNA
When Porsche revealed its four-door sports sedan, the Panamera, back in 2009, the package seemed, well, just a little underwhelming. Despite attempts to endow the luxury cruiser with some 911-style visual elements, the result was aesthetically awkward and unconvincing.
In fairness, the driving experience wasn’t nearly as compromised as the shape and size of the Panamera suggested, proving that under the skin, Porsche’s engineering prowess had been employed to good effect. But the original Panamera was never going to get hearts beating faster in the same way a 911 does, or even a Cayman, for that matter.
Still, the Panamera has been a very real contributor to Porsche’s continued growth, and while that contribution hasn’t been as significant as that of the Cayenne (which propelled the brand into an all-new market with spectacular sales results), the four-door has offered luxury sedan buyers a very real, exclusive and dynamically engaging alternative.
After seven years, you’d expect the new Panamera to improve on its predecessor, and by all indications it has – and substantially so. While it’s larger than the first-gen car, and probably weighs about the same, the new car’s shape is sleeker, sexier – and certainly more Porsche.
The design cuts a finer, smarter and sportier figure, mainly due to the smoother roofline, while the new car’s extra length, width and wheelbase are convincingly disguised by an overall impression of cohesion.
Make no mistake: this is a big car, tipping the scales at just short of two tons, and targeting the likes of Audi’s soon-to-be-replaced and the tech-drenched BMW 7-Series. But its intentions remain unequivocally focussed on delivering dynamics true to the Porsche badge.
Assisting that intention are major changes to the drivetrain, which see increases in power and torque across the board. For now, the entry-level Panamera is the 4S, powered by a 2,9-litre bi-turbo V6 credited with 324 kW and 550 Nm, while the Panamera Turbo’s V8 twin turbo is good for 404 kW and 770 Nm.
Also new is a specially developed eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, linked to the Panamera’s all-wheel drive system. Vitally, the platform employed is the VW Group’s latest modular MSB design, which also underpins the upcoming Audi A8, and promises improved rigidity and lower mass.
The cabin treatment is all-new, too, with a less cluttered design and a focus on intuitive ergonomics, including touch-sensitive ‘virtual’ buttons with haptic feedback. Quality remains an overriding hallmark, linked to four-seater comfort and convenience – including a 500 litre boot.
The Panamera Turbo’s performance figures confirm its sports car-rivalling intentions, despatching the 0-100 km/h dash in just 3,8 sec – or even 3,6 sec when fitted with the customary Sport Chrono package. Quoted top speed is 306 km/h.
At 4,4 sec (or 4,2 sec with Sport Chrono), the ‘junior’ 4S is no slouch, either, linked to a 289 km/h maximum speed.
A turbodiesel version, as well as more accessibly priced rear-wheel drive models are likely to be added to the range next year, as will a specifically performance-focused GTS model. South African sales are unlikely to start before early next year, with prices still to be confirmed.