► Facelifted Panamera’s new flagship is Turbo S
► 621bhp V8 and slightly refreshed styling
► Makes a very convincing AMG GT Four-door rival
The Panamera has for more than a decade now proven that Porsche can build a front-engined grand tourer with as much skill as it does its rear-engined sports cars. The current model’s hardly long in the tooth, but for 2020 it’s been refreshed, with tweaks to the styling and an overhaul to the already-impressive engine range.
It’s the flagship of these updated engines we’re driving today – the throaty and staunchly non-hybrid Turbo S.
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No hybrid? Isn’t that a bit behind the times?
Porsche does still offer a hybrid in the range – a new, lower-powered 4S E-Hybrid, aimed at the pragmatists who’d rather maximum efficiency than maximum performance. The issues with the outgoing Turbo S E-Hybrid flagship being a hybrid were of weight, involvement and complexity. Put simply, though there was a frankly ludicrous amount of power, it felt as though there was too much going on behind the scenes to truly enjoy the experience.
That’s not the case here. This is no sack-cart, obviously, but it keeps things simple with a twin-turbocharged V8 up-front, eight-speed PDK gearbox in the middle, and drive to all four corners. Power is down on the old Turbo S E-Hybrid, at 621bhp to its 671bhp, but so is weight – a cool 200kg has been shaved off. Torque sits at 604lb ft.
There’s certainly no lack in performance despite the power deficit. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 3.1 seconds – 0.3 seconds faster than the old hybrid, and top speed is 196mph.
Those figures sit very favourably next to AMG’s GT Four-door, a hyperpowered sports saloon in a similar vein – with identical power and near-identical performance despite a torque deficit of around 60lb ft.
But how does it feel to drive?
Fabulous. Like the 911, Cayman, and indeed almost every mainstream Porsche, the Panamera Turbo S has an unflappability about it that’s intoxicating on the right road.
Power is obviously ample, with a muscular delivery and reserves available from as low down as you’re likely to need them. Those hoping for a bellow like you’d get from an AMG will be disappointed, though – Porsche’s tuned this for superb refinement at speed, with the payoff being a muted exhaust note for those inside.
Refinement is a strong point throughout, and even on this car’s massive 21-inch wheels it rides beautifully at speed, with the engine near-silent at low revs.
Head onto twistier roads and the acronyms begin to come into play – PASM, PDCC Sport, PTV Plus, PCCB and PSM all feature. No need to decode, but they contribute to that impressive lack of drama while still offering a good amount of communication for such a large, luxurious car.
The PCCB – standing for carbon ceramic brakes – are worth opting for, ensuring the Panamera Turbo S decelerates like you’ve just opened up a drag chute. The rear-axle steering is also a worthy option, aiding not just parking but making the Panamera shrink around you on a twisting road.
What’s it like inside?
Very little’s changed for 2020 – Porsche’s added in the steering wheel from the 911 with its floating switches and upgraded the centre infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay.
What’s not gone is the strict four-seat interior (there’s space in the rear for six-footers) or wide dashboard with a letterbox-style 12-inch screen. The interface is as slick and classy as you’d hope, but we do prefer portrait-orientated screens in use, especially when it comes to navigation.
The centre console is a little more opaque, with few discrete switches. Instead, everything’s contained under a continuous surface, which does wonders for sleekness but doesn’t aid at all in finding controls with your eyes on the road.
It’s practical, though, with space for odds and ends about the cabin, a large, flat load area (accessed via a huge hatchback – much easier than a saloon opening) and of course, top marks for solidity and perceived quality.
A fabulous long-distance cruiser, unstickable on a good road, luxurious or ferocious in equal measure – the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is a special car. As it should be, for its £135,610 starting price. Our test car, with all those acronyms, came in well over £150,000.
That price tag buys you a lot of AMG – whether you opt for the slinky GT Four-door 63 S or a more conventional sports saloon in the shape of the AMG E 63 S.
We’d find it more difficult to ignore Porsche’s other four-door sports car – the spectacular Taycan, who’s price tag is similar to the Turbo S but without the ongoing pain of a sub-20mpg fuel bill with every fill-up. With just as much space inside and the same unflappable character, albeit missing the note of a V8 as accompaniment, the Taycan is definitely a serious rival.
As petrol power goes, though, the new Turbo S is pretty wonderful. We don’t think you’ll be at all disappointed.
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