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Driven: 2010 Porsche Panamera Page 2

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2010 Porsche Panamera

The Panamera's over 4,000-pound curb weight is hard to miss, but Porsche compensates with light steering feel and well-adjusted electronic controls. Porsche Active Suspension Management adjusts ride stiffness as needed, and the optional air suspension (standard on Turbo models) improves the range of adjustability. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control uses active anti-roll bars to control body roll without requiring ride-compromising stiff springs, while a rear differential lock helps improve traction in wet or snowy weather. The total effect of the dynamic assistance systems is a lowering of 0.8 inches at speed, improving aerodynamics and lowering the center of gravity. An active spoiler also comes up at speed, adding downforce.

Once you're humming along serenely at 140 mph or more, being able to slow down quickly and calmly is important, a feat made easy with with huge disc brakes and six-piston calipers up front and four-piston rears. Grippy 18-inch tires (S and 4S models) or 19-inch (Turbo models) ensure the car has firm footing no matter what the driver asks of the car.

The electronic driver aids to leave a bit of fun to be had, and a bit of slip angle to play with, helping to keep the Panamera's sporty feel intact. While it doesn't have the feel and responsiveness of a 911 in spirited or track-day driving, the Panamera is at or near the pinnacle of modern sports sedans.

Even with the immense sport driving capability of the 2010 Panamera, however, the car is also very comfortable even in the sportiest of Sport Chrono modes, and even in the softest the steering remains communicative and quick.

Passengers won't hurt for cargo room in the 2010 Panamera, either. The rear cargo space has room for four roll-aboards, a power liftgate and folding rear seats that open up a total of 44.6 cubic feet of space--enough to hold two bicycles with the front wheels still attached, according to Porsche.

And as with all modern luxury cars, safety is a top priority for the Panamera. Standard passive safety features include dual front, side, knee and curtain airbags, an active pop-up hood to minimize pedestrian injury, and rear side airbags are optionally available. Active safety starts with Porsche's excellent stability and traction control features, but also includes rearview cameras to help when backing up, and hill-start control keep the car from rolling backwards on steep inclines.

The Panamera can also be had with nearly every option ever imagined for a production luxury sedan, including Bluetooth connectivity, a 1000-watt Burmeister audio system and adaptive cruise control. Choices of interior trim include several kinds of wood, carbon fiber, aluminum or piano-black trim, though the matte-finish wood is especially attractive. A rear-seat entertainment system offers many possibilities, while XM satellite radio and four-zone climate control help keep everyone happy. Unlike most of its German competition, Porsche's control interface remains one dominated by buttons for individual systems. Though perhaps less elegant from a design perspective, it's certainly welcome in terms of usability.

Overall, the Panamera does a remarkable job of packing in performance, comfort and useful interior and cargo space, but the awkward styling fails to inspire the way it could.

High Gear Media accepted travel from Porsche to bring you this hands-on road test of the 2010 Panamera.


 
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