Porsche's Panamera is the entry-level model in Porsche's five-door GT range. Fitted with a 3.6-litre V6 engine, the basic Panamera begs a significant question: without the massive performance or four-wheel drive, does the Panamera's four-seater practicality overwhelm the controversial looks?
Read on for out test of the Porsche Panamera V6 to find out...
Porsche Panamera V6: the Porsche family car?
One week, two very different drives in the entry level Panamera V6. The first was a night away with the wife and two-year-old, the second a quick blast over a favourite road.
Load the family aboard and you’ll need to squeeze their belongings in the undersized boot like you’re overwhelming a sandwich toaster, and the rear seats – just the four seats total in a Panamera – are a little less spacious than you might expect.
At least the seats are comfortable, and the fit and finish impeccable. It’s a lovely place to be. Adopt a chauffeur-like attitude to family ferrying and the V6 works incredibly well.
Road- and wind-noise is near non-existent, the ride firm if perfectly acceptable, the PDK gearbox (an option) incredibly smooth and the V6 refined, its 296bhp perfectly up to the job.
Driving the Panamera V6 without the wife and kids
Drive it harder and you notice the V6 becoming breathy and feeling overworked, while the dual-clutch gearbox’s façade occasionally falters – it can thunk when you floor it at very low speeds, and takes too long to jump from seventh to, say, third when you need to overtake.
I remember the rear-drive V8’s auto feeling smoother, more decisive. But the steering is excellent, the body well controlled, the chassis agile – and, at 1730kg, it’s 240kg lighter than the all-paw Panamera Turbo, so a 200bhp deficit at the flywheel drops to 80bhp when you factor in power-to-weight.
The Panamera V6 is a good car, but the problem comes when you look at your alternatives, cars that aren’t necessarily direct competitors but ones that will be on buyers’ radars nonetheless – an equivalent Cayenne is £20k less, more spacious and more practical; a long wheelbase diesel S-class the same money; a BMW 530d is faster and roomier, and £24k less.
Looked at like that, the Panamera becomes difficult to justify, but that doesn’t stop it being a satisfying piece of kit in isolation.