We’ve already driven the Porsche Panamera S. The comfort oriented, two-wheel drive, normally aspirated version of the new four-seater left us feeling less than infused. Enter the Panamera Turbo, the twin-blown 4.8-litre V8 pinnacle of Porsche’s supercar-cum-limo.
Could the £100k Turbo be the Panamera we were hoping for?
Behind the wheel of the Panamera Turbo
Drop yourself into the Porsche’s seat and you find yourself sitting go-kart low in one of four identical, deeply contoured buckets. Despite measuring just 1418mm from road to roof, the Panamera Turbo does not suffer from a shortage of room.
On the beefy transmission tunnel sits a mass of buttons – the iDrive revolution seems to have gone unnoticed here. And because of the extra-dry ride, finding the desired spot on the faraway touch-screen monitor is quite a hit and miss affair. You’ve no choice but to use it, as the dozens of console buttons don’t control everything.
Porsche Panamera Turbo – do you notice its namesake?
The Turbo variant of the Panamera boasts 493bhp at 6000rpm (99 horsepower more than the Panamera S), and a whopping 516lb ft of torque slugging it out between 2250 and 4500rpm. On the road this shows.
The Porsche will happily kick down into sixth at an indicated 175mph. We know, because we drove the Panamera Turbo on the autobahn. Then, with the rev counter pegged at 6700rpm, the digital speedometer shows a spectacular, if slightly optimistic, 200mph. Perhaps a little irrelevant on British roads, but in Germany, this performance makes all the difference.
More impressive than this, however is Porsche’s dynamic chassis control, which combines active yaw and roll via switchable anti-roll bars. A clever rear diff also apportions torque from side to side. The Sport Chrono pack is also a useful tool. A ‘Sport Plus’ mode tunes the engine, transmission and suspension, whilst launch control and a turbo overboost that comes in under full acceleration are also good assets.
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Porsche 911 looks, parts, performance?
The Panamera Turbo does desperately want to play the family-sized 911 card. As such, Porsche mercilessly applied 911 styling and effectively ruined what could have been a very handsome car. Inside, the story is much the same, as the instruments and some of the switchgear are pure 911. Good or bad? That depends where you’re coming from.
Look past the styling and concentrate on the car underneath and you find that it does indeed perform like a 911. At least, in its huge grip and unbreakable traction, as well as its dislike of transverse ridges and manhole covers. Luckily, what hasn’t translated into the four-seater is a scary lack of weight over the front wheels, awful crosswind stability, lift-off throttle histrionics and horrific tramlining.
Unfortunately though, the Panamera still marks a missed opportunity on behalf of Porsche. It could and should have conceived the world’s first lightweight four seater. Instead, the top-spec Panamera weighs in at about the same as Audi’s S8 and is over 200kg heftier than the benchmark BMW M5.
Could the Panamera still be a practical performance Porsche?
The Porsche Panamera Turbo does boast good performance with a recorded top speed of 188mph (that 200mph read out was optimistic, remember) and a 0-60mph sprint of 4.9sec. Part of this performance is thanks to Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK gearbox, which is quick, responsive, and a generally efficient way of swapping cogs.
In terms of comfort and practicality, however, PDK is disappointing. Taking off on a steep hill is tricky and when under full throttle it feels less than smooth. The Panamera also uses the awkward shift paddles from the 911, so the ergonomics are terrible. On the upside, the fuel-saving start/stop system works well.
Practicality is championed by the boot, which with the split rear seats folded, is large enough to rival some estates. Accessibility to the 432-litre load space is good thanks to the large tailgate. However, the high boot floor means bespoke luggage is a must. And while luggage will climb aboard without complaint, passengers won’t.
After spending time with the Porsche Panamera Turbo it becomes clear that to enjoy Porsche levels of performance, significant options must be fitted. Adaptive air suspension is standard, but Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, Sport Chrono pack, sports exhaust and ceramic composite brakes are not. Add a sunroof, comfort seats, some more leather and the Burmester sound system, and the total figure becomes obscene.
This raises a significant point. Unless hellbent on using this performance at every possible opportunity, you are almost certainly better off waiting for next year’s Panamera V6. And even if you do want the performance, think very carefully before buying the Turbo when Porsche is readying a 550bhp Panamera Turbo S. That one will be seriously quick.
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