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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
Ready-for-anything combination of performance and practicality
Impressive electronically-controlled double-clutch transmission
Unmatched handling prowess
Reviewers at TheCarConnection.com and around the Web rave over the stunning acceleration and confident handling of the 2010 Porsche Panamera. Few cars may look like it, and few cars perform like it, it seems.
The Panamera's ignition sits to the left of the wheel-part of Porsche tradition-and it fires up direct-injection engines related to those in the Cayenne SUV. Yet it breaks with some traditions. ConsumerGuide observes that, "unlike Porsche's 911, Boxster, and Cayman cars, Panamera has a front-mounted engine." The pair of "scintillating front engines" on the Panamera lineup includes "a 400-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 in base models" and a "500-hp version in the Panamera Turbo," according to reviewers at Edmunds. Both powerplants provide stunning acceleration, as Motor Trend reports a "0-60 mph time of under 5.4 sec for the two wheel drive S, and under 5.0 sec for the all-wheel drive 4S." The Porsche Panamera Turbo, with its twin-turbo V8, rockets to 60 mph in just 4 seconds flat, according to Porsche estimates, which leads Autoblog to caution "even the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG...pales in performance." With an optional Sport Chrono pack and its launch-control feature, acceleration times drop to a claimed 5.0 seconds, 4.6 seconds, and 3.8 seconds-and enthusiast magazines have clocked 3.3 seconds, equal to times in the Nissan GT-R or Porsche's own 911 Turbo. Top speed is a lofty 175 mph on non-Turbo cars, 188 mph on the Turbo.
Regardless of which engine you choose, all 2010 Porsche Panameras come with the same seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Like the units in Audi and Volkswagen cars, it uses nested clutch packs to pre-select gears in alternating order, so shifts are quick and invisible. Reviewers love this transmission, which Motor Trend says "slips imperceptibly between [the seven] ratios, ensuring a seamless surge of acceleration." Autoblog calls the transmission "impressive," and reviewers there are impressed that it allows for the driver to decide "whether to leave the shifting in full auto mode, shift with the center console-mounted lever, or shift manually via sliding levers on the steering wheel spokes." With the combination of the PDK gearbox and engines, Porsche says it avoids gas-guzzler taxes as it nets 16/24 mpg with non-Turbo cars, and 15/23 mpg in the Panamera Turbo. ConsumerGuide adds, "all models have an engine stop and start feature that shuts off the gas engine when the car is stopped," similar to other systems featured on many hybrid vehicles.
The Panamera's a hefty car at more than 4,000 pounds, but Porsche's dialed in electronics and light steering feel to give it a different, more nimble sensation than traditional Porsches. Edmunds declares that, for a four-door sports car, the Porsche Panamera offers "unmatched handling prowess." Cars.com agrees, christening the Panamera the "best-handling big sedan in the world," while Car and Driver calls it "so technically gifted and dynamically competent that you just have to take a look."
Autoblog says that Porsche's Active Suspension Management system comes standard, allowing drivers to choose from three suspension modes: "Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus." The basic setup has the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system to tailor the suspension from softer to firmer settings. Turbos also get air suspension (optional on other models) to further aid ride control. The Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system has active anti-roll bars for handling prowess, and a rear differential lock that improves traction in wet weather. With the dynamic assists, the Panamera lowers itself 0.8 inch at speeds and deploys an active spoiler to boost its grip-and still, the suspension and electronics are configured to allow a little slip and to preserve the Panamera's sporty credentials.
With the Sport Chrono package, the Panamera can be set up as a real track performer, with the tautest engine, transmission, and suspension settings-though the variable steering setup remains light and nicely weighted in all versions. The electronic systems feel less direct in non-AWD cars, from TheCarConnection.com's point of view-there's a definite level of faith to be placed in them since they react more quickly than a driver can. In all-wheel-drive cars, the Panamera simply claws around corners with endless enthusiasm in a predictable, game-changing way. It may not be classically 911, but it is almost without equal in sedans unless Bugatti builds one again.
Ride quality is comfortable in most modes, with a distinct sense of tire motion and reactions making its way through the steering. It's akin to the ride quality of the tightest BMWs, and it's well suited to the Panamera's stunning capabilities.
Motor Trend says the "Panamera Turbo is beautifully controlled on the air suspension," and there's "not much wrong with the standard steel spring set up." To top it all off, the 2010 Porsche Panamera boasts world-class brakes-massive six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes, with optional carbon ceramic rotors-which Motor Trend describes as simply "bulletproof." To match, Porsche fits 245/50-ZR18s front and 275/45s on back in non-Turbo cars; the Turbo wears 255/45-ZR19 front tires, and 285/40-ZR19 rears, for awesome traction.
In a nod to its aim of producing a practical four-door sports car, Porsche endows the Panamera with a towing capacity that Motor Trend lists at "4850 lbs [for a] braked trailer," or 1,654 pounds unbraked.
The 2010 Porsche Panamera shatters performance-sedan barriers with a supple ride and steering, as well as phenomenal Turbo power.