New & Used Porsche Panamera: In Depth
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The Porsche Panamera is one of the vehicles from the "other" side of the German automaker's showrooms. It's no 911, Cayman, or Boxster--but alongside the Cayenne and Macan SUVs, the Panamera hatchback makes a compelling argument that Porsche performance can take on all kinds of shapes and forms.
A high-performance luxury five-door, the Panamera joins together speed, comfort, and space that few competitors can rival. There are a number of drivetrains available, including the entry-level V-6 to a turbocharged V-8. A plug-in hybrid was added for the 2014 model year.
The Panamera competes with cars like the Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, and Aston Martin Rapide.
MORE: Read our 2015 Porsche Panamera review
The Panamera was introduced for the 2010 model year. It's been updated but not significantly changed in terms of styling since then.
That styling has been controversial, to say the least. If you believe the rumor mill, the Panamera's somewhat bulbous rear end looks like it does because a 6' 3" 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 sportscars like the 911, Boxster, and Cayman. The base engine for the 2010 model year was a 400-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 lent by the Cayenne. With twin turbos, the same engine cranked out 500 horsepower. Both engines split power to the rear or to all wheels through a seven-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--even more in the back seat, in fact. Those seats also flip forward, opening a cargo space that delivers enough room to cart a couple of bicycles even without removing the front wheels.
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 1000-watt Burmester audio system feels as powerful as the Turbo'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 seven-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.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, a new Sport Turismo concept was introduced, giving the Panamera a more wagon-like profile. While Porsche hasn't confirmed any plans for series production, 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 also possible that it forecasts the styling direction the brand will move its sedan toward.
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 model and a long-wheelbase variant called Executive. 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 has added a Panamera Exclusive Series model, which dollops extra luxury and design pieces onto a Panamera Turbo S Executive, for a base price of $260,000.