Porsche Panamera (2009): first official photos

Published: 24 November 2008

London motor show video

Today's launch of the new Porsche Panamera is a timely reminder that Porsche is no stranger to controversy. It is happiest pursuing mechanical layouts others deem impossible, turning gamekeeper and buying Volkswagen outright, and laughing in the face of cynics who deplore Porsche-badged off-roaders. The new Panamera sports saloon is going to reignite plenty more controversy, trust us.

Porsche today issues seven photographs and the full official story of the new Panamera, ahead of its motor show launch in spring 2009. The first cars will hit dealers' floors in late summer 2009, when they'll vie for the attention of buyers considering an upper-class Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-series or Maserati Quattroporte. It's a lofty ambition from Porsche.

So the new Porsche Panamera is a luxury saloon?

Not quite. Check out these photographs closely and you'll spot that this is a five-door Porsche. Yep, like the Cayenne, the Panamera has a hatchback rear end. It's the only car in its class to offer this practicality (the rear seats fold flat, making the Panamera a remarkably spacious grand tourer) and the oddball layout belies its luxury saloon tag.

Porsche styling director Michael Mauer actually calls the Panamera a 'space coupe', and the company toyed long and hard with alternative designs that bordered on estate cars.

But the end result is this five-door hatchback that looks like the offspring of a 911 getting saucy with a Cayenne behind the bike sheds. Original? Hardly, with its profusion of 911 styling details. Pretty? We'll let you call that one. Click 'Add your comment' and tell us what you think of the new Panamera luxury car.

>> Read the new January 2008 issue of CAR Magazine for the full inside story on the new Panamera – and 63 of the other hottest cars of 2009  



London motor show video

Talk me through the design of the new Porsche Panamera

Although no longer than the class average at 4970mm, the Panamera sits low (1418mm) and wide (1926mm). It's quite unnerving the first time you see one, looking like a 911 that's been squashed and stretched by a rolling pin. Or a Cayenne.

Mauer says he's deliberately designed in the usual Porsche motifs – the distinctive air intake but lack of grille, the pronounced wheelarches, the topography of the bonnet – and there's certainly no mistaking this luxury sports car for any other Germanic three-box exec. It's aero-efficient too, cleaving the air with a streamlined Cd0.29 drag figure; all models have a pop-up rear spoiler.

Is the Panamera roomy?

Cue the hatchback's ace card. The Panamera is incredibly roomy inside. It feels odd to see a luxury car sitting so squat and low, yet you can swing yourself into the rear seats and are faced with S/A8/7-style legroom. It's that roomy, and headroom is generous too. There are only four seats, both rows being divided by the mother of all consoles. All four seats recline and can be chilled or heated.

That boot is a whopping 450 litres, and the rear seatbacks tumble individually to expand that figure generously. You can even order a nifty electrically operated tow bar that swings away under the bumper and out of sight at the touch of a button. Who said Porsches weren't practical?

What does the interior look like?

Sadly, Porsche hasn't issued any cabin photographs yet, so we've reproduced the spy photos inside the Panamera. It's mostly standard Porsche fare (central rev counter, that distinctive family typeface, Germanic logic meets slightly scatty ergonomics), but the company has really gone to town with the central console. Execs dismiss multi-controllers like iDrive, MMI and Comand and insist Porsche owners want to have a button for everything. Result? We counted at least 84 buttons from the Panamera's front seat.

One mystery that remains over the Panamera is its price. The competition cited for the newcomer cost from around £50,000 in petrol V6 trim and officials acknowledge that prices will be 'above the Cayenne', whose list prices kick off at £37k for the V6. Our best guess? You won't get a 3.6 V6 Panamera for less than £50k, with the Turbo soaring to £80k.

>> Read the new January 2008 issue of CAR Magazine for the full inside story on the new Panamera – and 63 of the other hottest cars of 2009


London motor show video

Ok, so it's a Porsche luxury hatchback/saloon thang. It's going to be fast, right?

Well spotted. The Panamera heralds a new luxury sports car platform and engineering director Wolfgang Dürheimer vows it's not related to any group product. This ain't no Conti GT, Phaeton or A8 in drag.

The package allows rear- and four-wheel drive and three engines will be available from launch:

3.6-litre V6, 300bhp
4.8-litre V8, naturally aspirated, 400bhp
4.8-litre V8, bi-turbo, 500bhp

The bottom two engines are available in Rwd and 4wd, while the Panamera Turbo sends its considerable thrust to all four corners as standard. And there's a wide choice of transmissions, spanning six-speed manuals, seven-speed PDK twin-clutch (like in the second-gen 997) and, on the forthcoming 2011 Hybrid model, a regular Tiptronic auto.

Sadly, no performance figures have been quoted yet, but R&D boss Dürheimer told CAR that the Panamera was engineered for 'at least 186mph'. The benchmark – but increasingly meaningless – 0-62mph time is likely to fall into the high fours if you pick the Turbo.

That's quick. I thought the Panamera was a beached whale!

Dürheimer vows that all versions of the new five-door will weigh less than two tonnes, but he declines to make that promise for the Hybrid. To trim bulk, the bonnet and doors are made from aluminium, although the rest of the Panamera uses conventional steel construction.

Will there be a diesel Panamera? Apparently not. Porsche last week confirmed a VW derv for the chunky Cayenne, but it has ruled out a diesel for its latest model – initially at least. The battery-powered Hybrid will take up the mantle of fuel-saver and Dürheimer tells us engineers are already driving at up to 70mph on electric power and regularly surprising other road users with silent supercar performance. It uses the same tech as Porsche's Cayenne Hybrid.

>> Read the new January 2008 issue of CAR Magazine for the full inside story on the new Panamera – and 63 of the other hottest cars of 2009

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet