- Fantastic acceleration and impressive steering (Turbo and Turbo S)
- PDK gearbox remains a benchmark
- High-speed stability and handling are excellent
- S E Hybrid is powerful, efficient
- Spacious rear seat
- Exterior styling still an acquired taste
- Interior design can be busy, button-heavy
- Driving aids sometimes interfere with driving feel
- Very expensive at upper end of the range
The 2015 Porsche Panamera keeps delivering its phenomenal balance of utility, luxury, and performance.
The 2015 Porsche Panamera is as it looks—a surprising combination of large luxury sedan and high-performance sports car. It offers a lot to love, to a wide range of potential buyers, thanks to its large and truly usable back seat, upscale interior, and brilliant dynamics, plus a range of powertrains that permit frugal plug-in hybrid operation or near-supercar performance.
Yet the Panamera isn't for everyone who can afford it; the look is polarizing—especially at the rear—and it spirals easily out of pricing control if you don't lay a judicious hand on the options order sheet. If you can handle the price and if you love the look, the Panamera's performance, its wide range of available powertrains, and its available custom touches make it a keen alternative to the likes of a BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe or a Mercedes-Benz CLS—or even an S-Class.
Last year, the Panamera S E Hybrid was added, bringing new and high-tech gas-saving features to the Panamera line. For the new model year, the Panamera hasn't been changed in any significant way—only a few cosmetic touches have been altered, and only a few features changed.
The Panamera's styling is an acquired taste. Last year, a complete though mild redesign gave a more streamlined, swept-back look thanks to revised front and rear end treatments, a shallower windshield angle, and, on Executive models, longer rear doors.
The long roofline and the arch near the rear end are supposed to call up subconscious associations with the 911, but instead it looks awkward. From most other angles, the overall effect is appealing, if somewhat super-sized for a Porsche. The cabin's sportscar touches are welcome; there's a button or a knob for almost every function, so there's no muddling around with touchscreen controls. In the back, the Panamera's an executive limo, with plenty of space and features.
From the base and Panamera 4 models, now sporting 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from a 3.6-liter normally aspirated V-6 engine, to the Panamera Turbo at 520 horsepower from a 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, to the all-new Panamera S E-Hybrid's 416 horsepower from a 95-horsepower electric motor and 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 combo, there's plenty of pep at any point in the range, with room to upgrade for those seeking more get-up-and-go.
A new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 powers Panamera S, Panamera 4S, and Panamera 4S Executive models, rated at 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. We expect this will become the new base engine soon, as Porsche plans ahead for a smaller sedan in its lineup.
All versions except the Panamera S E-Hybrid come standard with Porsche's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle-shift manual mode. The E-Hybrid gets its own eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, also with manual-mode shift controls on the steering wheel. Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive with anti-slip regulation (ASR) is standard on all-wheel drive models.
As with the previous generation, there's ample cargo space inside the Panamera with the rear seats laid flat. The hatchback-like profile adds clearance for larger packages or luggage—Porsche claims two fully-assembled bicycles will fit in the rear. Fit, finish, and materials are all held to a high standard, and the driver-centric layout of the front row controls give a sporty look and feel.
As for features and electronics, Porsche offers many standard and optional systems, including standard ParkAssist distance-sensing, standard cruise control, a standard Porsche Communication Management system with 7.0-inch color touchscreen and navigation with 3D maps. An Sport Chrono package (standard on Panamera GTS) is available, with improved performance modes; and a range of highly adjustable power seat upgrades are also available.
On the safety front, Porsche offers a full complement of side, front, knee, and curtain airbags as standard, plus additional seat belt pre-tensioners, manual seat belt height adjustment, and LATCH child seat mounts, also standard on all models. You won't find some of the advanced safety electronics systems offered by other luxury performance sedans, such as night vision or pedestrian detection, however. The Porsche Panamera hasn't yet been crash-tested by the IIHS or NHTSA.