Much debate has raged on about the relevance of Porsche’s Panamera. Many have said that Porsche should stick to making 2-door rear-engined sports cars. A similar debate sparked when the Cayenne first debuted, but just look at how successful it is today. Buyers in the market for a premium, luxury saloon now have that option of choosing a Porsche over the traditional Mercedes/BMW/Audi flavours. First unveiled in April 2009, the Panamera is offered in a number of variants that now include both petrol and diesel mills.
Thanks to a certain Miss J, I recently had the opportunity to drive a Panamera (this one in 4WD guise) to see if it is more of a driver’s car staying true to the Porsche ethos, or if it is more a tool for bosses to travel in luxe-style. Let’s quickly dispense with the issue of styling – some will like it, and some will undoubtedly not. Beauty is of course in the eyes of the beholder and while the front of the Panamera does not do very much for me (a little plain – and looks the same as the rest of the entire line-up) it is the rear curves that help to give this long, luxurious, four-door saloon a sleeker finish. With the spoiler erect, it exudes an extra whiff of aggressiveness. To be brutally honest, visually, it certainly does not excite. The interior of the Panamera however, fares much, much better. Your senses are initially bombarded by the massive array of buttons, but in truth, they are all very easy to figure out. Essential controls are located in the centre console, clearly marked – suspension/transmission settings and what-not. Build quality is typical Porsche quality; step into the Panamera and you are immediately transported into a place of class and luxury.
Interior of the Panamera is pure luxe-class. It was too dark to get decent pics but just check out the clock and you'll get a decent idea!
This particular Panamera 4 (the numeric refers to the number of wheels that spin when you plant your foot in the accelerator) has a 3.6L V6 under the bonnet that produces 300PS and 400Nm of torque. This is mated to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch box and aids the Panamera 4 go from zerotohundred in just under 6 seconds. Spec it up with Porsche’s Sports Chrono Package (as this particular unit has) and you get launch control which shaves time off the century sprint, achieved in just 5.6 seconds. Impressive. While the numbers look on paper, you do not feel the Panamera 4’s pace out on the open roads. Even with Sport Plus mode engaged (that sharpens throttle response) you really need to plant your foot into the accelerator to really move this luxe-barge. On my regular route, I struggled to bring it past 200km/h which left me slightly disappointed, although this certainly does not mean the Panamera is slow.
Optional 20-in wheels look fantastic, filling up the arches really well.
Where the Panamera 4 really shines is in the handling department. Featuring the optional 20-in multi-spoke Sport wheels with stickier tyres and air-suspension, the Panamera is endowed with impressive corner-carving abilities. It was difficult to believe that I was able to carry such high speeds into corners, especially considering its size and weight. Steering feels light, but response is quick, precise and provides good feedback; useful when you are piloting something this long and wide. The springs provide a well balanced compromise between comfort and sport. Huge brakes come as standard – 14.2-in six-piston calipers in front, and 13.0-in four-piston calipers in the rear provide massive, fade-free braking power. Ceramics are an option of course, but seem irrelevant since most buyers would use the Panamera for transportation (and not track) purposes.
Sports Plus mode sharpens throttle response and lowers suspension. Displayed very nicely on this optional sports steering wheel.
So what exactly is the Panamera? It will not win awards in the looks department of course, but it retains most of the Porsche traits – especially the sensation of being in a proper sports car (albeit a properly large one). The base model V6 falls slightly short in raw, visceral thrills but four-wheel drive, lighter weight combined with sports car dynamics helps to make up for its flaws. Luxurious, classy, sports-car with a premium badge. Relevant for the Malaysian market? Yes – I certainly think so.
48 KB Views: 543