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2012 Porsche Panamera Performance

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For 2012 there are five core variants of the Panamera: the rear-drive Panamera; the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4; the Panamera GTS; the Panamera S Hybrid; and the Panamera Turbo. The Panamera, Panamera 4, and Panamera Turbo additionally get higher-performance and higher-spec S variants.

Along with the five core variants are five core powertrains: a 300-horsepower V-6 in the Panamera and Panamera 4; a 400-horsepower V-8 in the Panamera S and 4S; a 430-horsepower V-8 in the GTS; a 500-horsepower turbocharged V-8 in the Turbo; and a 550-horsepower turbocharged V-8 in the Turbo S. All Panameras share a PDK seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox except for the S Hybrid, which uses an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic.

Standard Panamera and Panamera S models as well as the S Hybrid are rear-wheel drive, while the Panamera 4 and 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, and the GTS are all-wheel drive.

The 2012 Porsche Panamera is an impressive performer, and ragingly quick in Turbo S guise.

Now that we have that sorted, what about how they run? Generally speaking, fantastically. The 300-horsepower versions are breathtakingly quick, but they do well with what they have. The V-8 models are where the fun lives, though, particularly with the Turbo and Turbo S, which are borderline supercar-level in acceleration. The Turbo S scrabbles to 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds, has a top speed of 190 mph, and generates 553 pound-feet of torque--or 590 lb-ft in overboost. It also retails for a starting price of $173,200. Even the base Panamera is engaging, however, with 6.0-second 0-60 mph runs and a 160 mph top speed.

Handling, however, is even more impressive in the Panamera, especially given its 4,000-pound-plus curb weight. The advanced electronics systems manage the chassis and power application so seamlessly it's easy to drive; steering is light and almost nimble-seeming (though in reality it's slightly artificial and over-boosted); and at high speeds, the big sedan is impeccably stable and confidence-inspiring.

Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Dynamic Chassic Control (PDCC), and, when equipped, the Sport Chrono package, are responsible for this electro-mechanical wizardry. Together they manipulate damper stiffness, body roll, yaw rates, and more to lower ride height, improve grip, and generally do whatever suits the driver's requests, while still allowing enough room for the driver to play a bit before being reined in. All-wheel drive variants are particularly tenacious and capable.

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