The Car Connection Porsche Panamera Overview
The Porsche Panamera is a five-door hatchback that's styled to look more like a sedan. One of Porsche's most conventional vehicles—at least in its form—the Panamera may be distinct from the brand's sports cars, but its performance can be nearly as exhilarating.
With the Panamera, Porsche makes a compelling argument that its flavor of performance can take any shape, as long as the vehicle is influenced by its standard-setting sports cars. For the 2017 model year, Porsche is expected to bring out an all-new Panamera, which will be constructed on a new platform that will underpin several high-end Volkswagen Group models.
The Panamera lineup offers a number of drivetrains available, from the entry-level V-6 to a twin-turbocharged V-8. Even a plug-in hybrid has been available since the 2014 model year.
The Panamera competes with cars such as the Aston Martin Rapide, Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, and the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe.
MORE: Read our 2016 Porsche Panamera review
The Panamera was introduced for the 2010 model year. It has been steadily updated mechanically, but the styling has remained largely the same, with one mild visual refresh having arrived for 2014.
That styling has been controversial, to say the least. If you believe the rumor mill, the Panamera's somewhat bulbous materialized because a 6-foot-3-inch former Porsche chairman demanded the new car be roomy enough for his comfort in the rear seat.
Many Panamera models are offered, ranging from the base Panamera and Panamera S to the Panamera 4 and 4S, the Panamera GTS, and the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S, as well as the Panamera S E-Hybrid.
The Panamera's performance makes it a true companion to Porsche sports cars like the 911, Boxster, and Cayman. The base engine for the 2010 model year was a 400-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 borrowed from the Cayenne. With twin turbos, the same engine cranked out 500 hp. Both engines split power to the rear or to all wheels through a 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Handling in any Panamera is spectacularly balanced, with steering that's lighter than in some Porsche models. Though it is a large car, it retains a nimble feeling aided in many models by extra electronic systems for the chassis, suspension, and powertrain.
The Panamera's spacious interior is unexpected. It delivers the usual Porsche performance despite a long body and a long wheelbase. Four adults will find plenty of room—more in the back seat than the front, in fact. Those rear seats also flip forward, opening a cargo space that delivers enough room to cart a couple of bicycles with their front wheels still in place.
Porsche fits plenty of standard safety and luxury features to the Panamera, from curtain airbags to Bluetooth. Owners can specify custom trim or choose from a range of wood or metallic finishes, as well as some finely stitched leather—and matching fitted luggage. The optional 1,000-watt Burmester audio system feels as powerful as the Turbo S's scalding thrust.
In the 2011 model year, the Panamera became a little more attainable, with the introduction of a new base model powered by a V-6. With the 3.6-liter V-6 (which Porsche builds on the same line as its V-8), the Panamera can get to 60 mph in a respectable-enough 5.6 seconds. The engine works well with the same 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission as in other models.
For 2012, a new Turbo S model pushed the power rating up to 550 hp and a GTS version added 30 hp to the S, while an all-new Panamera S Hybrid model was also introduced. All but Panamera base, S, and S Hybrid models come with all-wheel drive standard.
Porsche introduced a Sport Turismo concept at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, giving the Panamera a more wagon-like profile. While the company hasn't confirmed any plans for series production of a wagon-fied Panamera, we wouldn't be surprised to see this variant join the range in the next few years, perhaps when the next-generation model is announced. It's design lightly influenced the face lift that came for 2014 and may also forecast the model's styling direction in the future.
In the 2013 model year, Porsche offered a new Platinum Edition model, which adds unique paint, trim, and equipment to yield a more custom look.
An update arrived for the 2014 model year, freshening the Panamera's looks and equipment, as well as adding a new Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in model in place of the former hybrid and a long-wheelbase variant, dubbed Executive. The longer Executive package is available on 4S, Turbo, and Turbo S cars. The Panamera S and 4S models also received a new twin-turbocharged V-6 to replace the former naturally aspirated V-8 engine.
For 2015, Porsche added a Panamera Exclusive Series model, which dollops extra luxury and design pieces onto a Panamera Turbo S Executive, for an extraordinary base price of $260,000. That's a hefty 60 grand over the price of a Turbo S Executive, but with Porsche options it could easily be pushed past $300,000. And even this most luxurious of Panameras is capable of a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, just a tenth behind a short-wheelbase Turbo S.
The 2016 Panamera is available in a new Edition trim. It packages 19-inch Panamera Turbo wheels, black window trim, a two-tone interior, and several other options together for less than what they'd all cost separately. The Edition is available on the base V-6 Panamera and Panamera 4, costing $1,900 or $1,500 more than the respective car.