Porsche is missing some of the leading-edge features, such as night vision and accident-avoidance systems, that distinguish the 7-Series and S-Class flagships of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, respectively. But, that aside, the Panamera can also be had with nearly every option ever imagined for a production luxury sedan, cruise control; dual-zone climate control; leather seating; a panoramic sunroof; a navigation system also used in the Cayenne that has crisp displays and customizable maps; and Bluetooth control for hands-free phone operation.
Among the options are a choice of wood, carbon-fiber, aluminum, or piano-black trim (the matte wood finish is particularly fine); a rear-seat entertainment system; custom-fitted luggage; four-zone climate control; a 16-speaker, 1,000-watt Burmeister audio system; XM Satellite Radio; and the Sport Chrono package, which adds another dash-mounted gauge and lets drivers watch their cornering and speeds improve via a special display on the dash screen. Adaptive cruise control is available, as are sport seats and heating and ventilation for all seating positions. 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.
While other German car companies have moved to centralized functions and a balky controller, Porsche uses lots of buttons for vehicle functions—actually a decision to be applauded. Though perhaps less elegant from a design perspective, it's certainly welcome in terms of usability. And the roller controls on the steering wheel set the standard for tuning audio and entertainment features on the go.
The base sound system is one of the few disappointments we could find with the Panamera; while 100 watts should be enough, it seemed to lack proper bass support when we turned it up. We strongly recommend the available Burmester premium surround-sound system, as well as the nice, snug Adaptive Sport Seats, which have plenty of side support without feeling constraining. Dual-zone climate control is standard, but if you'll be carrying finicky passengers a four-zone system is available. Other options highlights include front and rear park assist, heated and ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control and, of course, a seemingly endless list of accessories, trims, and appearance packages.
The secret that you probably shouldn't spread too much word of is that prices are way more affordable for the V-6 model than for the V-8; the 2011 Porsche Panamera starts at $74,400, while the Panamera 4 starts at $78,900, not counting destination or the inevitable collection of options. Standard equipment isn't that much different between the two. There's a pretty big step up in price to the Panamera V-8 models, starting at around $91k, and the Turbo, at an entry point of $134k.