The Car Connection Porsche Panamera Overview
The Porsche Panamera is a five-door hatchback with a gently sloping roofline and alarming performance in some versions. It's one of the most practical vehicles made by Porsche and proved versatility may not require compromise.
The Panamera competes with cars such as the Aston Martin Rapide, Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, and the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe.
For 2018, the Panamera lineup grows considerably to a total of 15 different variants including two wheelbases and a choice of standard and shooting brake-like Sport Turismo body configurations. A new base model joins the lineup with rear-wheel drive, while a pair of hybrid models offer two different definitions of efficient performance.
MORE: Read our 2018 Porsche Panamera review
The new Porsche Panamera
The latest edition of the Panamera has grown, and has adopted a striking new design that eliminates its hunchbacked look in favor of a much sleeker shape. Inside, the dash drops dozens of buttons and switches for a pair of 7.0-inch screen in the gauge slot, and a 12.3-inch tablet screen on the center console.
Two new engines are offered in the 4S and Turbo models. Both come with standard all-wheel drive. (Many more models, from a wagon to a plug-in hybrid, are expected.) The Panamera 4S is powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 with 440 horsepower, good for a 4.0-second 0-60 mph time and a top speed of 180 mph.
The Panamera Turbo comes with a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 spinning out a healthy 550 hp. According to Porsche, the Turbo accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds or 3.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono package, and tops out at 190 mph. An 8-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only transmission offered.
Available suspension and performance options will include electronically controlled dampers, rear-wheel steering, torque vectoring, active roll compensation, and a three-chamber air suspension. The air suspension will be standard on the Turbo. The 4S will come with 19-inch wheels, the Turbo will get 20s, and 21s will be optional.
The latest Porsche Panamera's body is made almost entirely of aluminum, though there are also some optimized steel alloys. It also grows for 2017. It is 1.3 inches longer for a total length of 198.8 inches, and the wheelbase grows 1.2 inches to 116.1 inches. Width and height both increase 0.2 inch to 76.3 and 56.0 inches, respectively, though the extra roof height can be found up front.
New safety technologies include InnoDrive, a system that blends adaptive cruise control with navigation data and signals from radar and video sensors to compute and activate the optimal acceleration and deceleration rates, gear selections, and coasting phases for the next 1.8 miles.
For 2018, Porsche grew the Panamera lineup considerably with a new Sport Turismo body style that offers a wagon-like look and a little more utility. Additionally, two E-Hybrid variants—one aimed at efficient performance and a Turbo S E-Hybrid flagship inspired by the 918 Spyder—also joined the lineup.
Porsche Panamera history
The Panamera was introduced for the 2010 model year. It has been steadily updated mechanically, but the styling has remained largely the same, with one mild visual refresh having arrived for 2014.
That styling has been controversial, to say the least. If you believe the rumor mill, the Panamera's somewhat bulbous materialized because a 6-foot-3 former Porsche chairman demanded the new car be roomy enough for his comfort in the rear seat.
Many Panamera models are offered, ranging from the base Panamera and Panamera S to the Panamera 4 and 4S, the Panamera GTS, and the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S, as well as the Panamera S E-Hybrid.
The Panamera's performance makes it a true companion to Porsche sports cars like the 911, Boxster, and Cayman. The base engine for the 2010 model year was a 400-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 borrowed from the Cayenne. With twin turbos, the same engine cranked out 500 hp. Both engines split power to the rear or to all wheels through a 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Handling in any Panamera is spectacularly balanced, with steering that's lighter than in some Porsche models. Though it is a large car, it retains a nimble feeling aided in many models by extra electronic systems for the chassis, suspension, and powertrain.
The Panamera's spacious interior is unexpected. It delivers the usual Porsche performance despite a long body and a long wheelbase. Four adults will find plenty of room—more in the back seat than the front, in fact. Those rear seats also flip forward, opening a cargo space that delivers enough room to cart a couple of bicycles with their front wheels still in place.
Porsche fits plenty of standard safety and luxury features to the Panamera, from curtain airbags to Bluetooth. Owners can specify custom trim or choose from a range of wood or metallic finishes, as well as some finely stitched leather—and matching fitted luggage. The optional 1,000-watt Burmester audio system feels as powerful as the Turbo S's scalding thrust.
In the 2011 model year, the Panamera became a little more attainable, with the introduction of a new base model powered by a V-6. With the 3.6-liter V-6 (which Porsche builds on the same line as its V-8), the Panamera can get to 60 mph in a respectable-enough 5.6 seconds. The engine works well with the same 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission as in other models.
For 2012, a new Turbo S model pushed the power rating up to 550 hp and a GTS version added 30 hp to the S, while an all-new Panamera S Hybrid model was also introduced. All but Panamera base, S, and S Hybrid models come with all-wheel drive standard.
In the 2013 model year, Porsche offered a new Platinum Edition model, which adds unique paint, trim, and equipment to yield a more custom look.
An update arrived for the 2014 model year, freshening the Panamera's looks and equipment, as well as adding a new Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in model in place of the former hybrid and a long-wheelbase variant, dubbed Executive. The longer Executive package is available on 4S, Turbo, and Turbo S cars. The Panamera S and 4S models also received a new twin-turbocharged V-6 to replace the former naturally aspirated V-8 engine.
For 2015, Porsche added a Panamera Exclusive Series model, which dollops extra luxury and design pieces onto a Panamera Turbo S Executive, for an extraordinary base price of $260,000. That's a hefty 60 grand over the price of a Turbo S Executive, but with Porsche options it could easily be pushed past $300,000. And even this most luxurious of Panameras is capable of a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, just a tenth behind a short-wheelbase Turbo S.
The 2016 Panamera was available in an Edition trim. It packaged 19-inch Panamera Turbo wheels, black window trim, a two-tone interior, and several other options together for less than what they'd all cost separately. The Edition was available on the base V-6 Panamera and Panamera 4, costing $1,900 or $1,500 more than the respective car.