Does it work? Porsche’s button-free, big-screen cabin on test

Published: 31 May 2017

► We test Porsche Panamera screen
► Does widescreen infotainment work?
► Porsche Advanced Cockpit review

There are plenty of good reasons to get excited about Porsche’s Panamera, including a new approach to eliminating button blindness. It’s called Porsche Advanced Cockpit – although if you’re familiar with aircraft, you’ll recognise it as ‘glass cockpit’.

All analogue instruments bar the centrally mounted tachometer have been ditched, and instead there is a 7in display mounted either side of it; the left one carries a digitally rendered speedometer and safety info while the right side delivers more general information; both allow you to flip through various pages.

Where the Panamera goes a step further is with the centre console. The 12.3in touchscreen uses a proximity sensor to bring up a series of soft menu keys while the meat of the console itself around the gearlever is made of two flush black panels – just touch to operate.

Porsche Panamera climate control run by digital screen too

You can customise the home screen with up to six configurable shortcut tiles to your favourite items (probably nearby petrol stations if you’re in a Turbo), pinch to zoom and use two fingers to spin maps around, write nav instructions on to the screen and swipe left to right through some menu pages.

Download the PCM Connect app for your smartphone and this links your data with the car, so you can send directions and locations, transfer calendar appointments and use geotagged photos as nav destinations.

That much new functionality in a single hit can be a little baffling at first, but once you’re plonked into the driver’s seat the layout doesn’t feel too Starship. The main screen is a breeze to use if you’ve handled a post-Moses tablet, especially once you know where to find what you’re after.

Porsche Panamera

Moving maps around is a cinch, and the text entry saves a little time; as soon as you’ve entered a letter it starts searching, so you rarely have to punch in more than a couple of characters.

The rest of the tech is more of a mixed success. Keeping a blend of analogue and digital is a nice touch, and the bigger mini-nav screen is appealing, while the upper section of the touch panel is smart and slick. In contrast the other section is like a giant button, clicking as you press it, which feels cheap.

Did Porsche Advanced Cockpit work?

Yes – Much of the Panamera’s new layout, while progressive rather than revolutionary, is a useful step towards your digital world linking seamlessly with your car. Configurable screens give flexibility and familiarity – both make life easier for everyone.

Getting there faster: three tricks of the Porsche Panamera’s digital system

Porsche Advanced Cockpit: draw your address entry by hand

Spell My Name
Enter a single letter in the nav screen and the Panamera starts searching for possible destinations. Two or three characters plus a quick swipe and you’re there.

Send address entry to your Panamera from your smartphone

Phone A Friend
If you still can’t find it, hook your phone up to the car and send the location straight to it. Ideal for when you can’t sleep and need to plan the day ahead.

Virtual digital dials let you configure your Porsche Panamera instruments any which way

Show Me The Way
Once loaded up, flick through the menu to bring the dinky nav screen up in the instrument display, allowing your passenger to play with the main screen and leave you in peace.

Read all our Porsche reviews here

By Matt Joy

Former associate editor of CAR magazine