2010 Porsche Panamera Review

Consumer Reviews
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 13, 2009

The 2010 Porsche Panamera weds astonishing performance to remarkable interior space, but its styling doesn't quite gel.

TheCarConnection.com drove the new 2010 Porsche Panamera to bring you this hands-on road test review. Editors at TheCarConnection.com also compared the Panamera with other sedans and researched reviews from a wide range of reputable sources to bring you a comprehensive look at the new vehicle.

High Gear Media accepted travel from Porsche to bring you this hands-on road test of the 2010 Panamera.

Porsche builds sports cars-but with the Cayenne SUV, the German automaker put the world on notice that it had more in mind. Now with the 2010 Panamera sedan, Porsche fills out its lineup with a truly spacious four-door that makes few compromises in its search for buyers seeking shattering power, great handling, and real room for four adults. It's no four-door coupe, like the Aston Martin Rapide or the Mercedes-Benz CLS, but a true "gran turismo." On sale in October 2009, the 2010 Panamera starts from a base price of $90,750 for the rear-drive Panamera S sedan, moving up to $94,750 for the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4S, and to $133,550 for the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Panamera Turbo.

Like no other Porsche before it, the Panamera aims for a traditional sedan silhouette, for better and for worse. As the unconfirmed story goes, former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking mandated the Panamera would have room in the backseat for his 6' 3" frame. It does-but the resulting roofline takes a compelling shape and knocks it off balance. The usual Porsche front and rear fenders frame the shape and help create a low drag coefficient, and rounded headlamps and tapered tail lamps render traditional details handsomely. The front end is low-but the rear roofline isn't, which makes the Panamera seem out of proportion, even in darker tones. As with the Bugatti Veyron, the rear end has a fastback feel that may take a few years to grow familiar. It's simply not as sleek as a Benz CLS or even four-doors like the new Jaguar XJ, and the proportions play much better on the Maserati Quattroporte.

Review continues below

The Panamera's cabin is a blend of leather, wood, and plastic, with a little too much of the last. Porsche's ignition sits to the left of the steering wheel, which itself comes from the 911, but most of the rest of the dash touches on new styling themes that aren't always successful. Wide flanks of buttons surround the console and overhead controls, giving them gills-a strange touch when the wood and leather lend an appealing 1970s flair that's executed even better in the console separating the rear seats. The control stalks on the column feel wiggly and out of touch with the rest of the quality pieces, too.

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. The 4.8-liter V-8 comes as is with 400 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, or with twin turbos, 500 hp and 516 lb-ft. There's scalding performance at hand-the base engine in the Panamera S and 4S vaults the sedan to 60 mph in either 5.2 or 4.8 seconds (better traction in the 4S shows up on the stopwatch). The Turbo charges to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. 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.

A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic is the sole transmission, and it has right and left paddles that act identically, allowing drivers to choose down- and upshifts by hand, if they prefer. 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. The Panamera will operate in manual mode with the Sport Chrono package, allowing drivers to push right to its 6,700-rpm redline and stay there through difficult corners. 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. There's also a stop/start function that can be enabled to save a little more fuel. Winding around road courses at 140 mph, the Panamera doesn't generate the flat-six ripple of the 911; instead, it's more of a machined whir that's still distinctly Porsche.

The Panamera's a hefty car at more than 4,000 pounds, but Porsche dials in electronics and light steering feel to give it a different, more nimble sensation than traditional Porsches. 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-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 its way 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. The Panamera wears massive six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes, with optional carbon ceramic rotors. 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. 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.

It sounds a bit unusual, but the rear seats are more comfortable than the front chairs in the 2010 Panamera. There's plenty of room and support in either set of buckets-and the driver's seat is the one you'll arm-wrestle for-but the rears have more width, thanks to the slimmer center console, and plenty of headroom and foot room, too. It's a little amazing to have more headroom in a Porsche rear seat than in a 2010 Ford Taurus, but it's true here. The front seats ride 4 inches above the ground and feel tightly cocooned, but the rear seats sit higher and have a great view of the road, thanks to narrow front seatbacks. The rear seats have power adjustments and ventilation like those in front, though on some versions leather is applied just to the seat surface, not the sides. Behind the backseats is a cargo area that's roomy enough for four roll-aboards, and it can be easily accessed from a power tailgate with a rear window shaped like those on Porsche sports cars. All four doors have unique holders that maintain a set position on any incline, for easy exits and entries. The backseats also flip down to expose 44.6 cubic feet of cargo space, enough for two bicycles with front wheels still attached, Porsche says.

Porsche goes to other extremes to guarantee the Panamera's performance in accidents. The four-door comes with standard dual front, side, knee, and curtain airbags, as well as an active hood that pops up to mitigate injuries in car-pedestrian accidents. Rear side airbags are an option. Rearview cameras assist when backing up, and the multifunction display in the gauges allows drivers to toggle through car functions and displays, including navigation, while keeping more focus on the road ahead. All-wheel drive is a safety benefit on its own, even more so in the ferociously powerful Panamera Turbo-and Porsche permits drivers to cycle through various traction and stability control modes for all kinds of driving situations. A hill-holder feature keeps the car from rolling back on inclines when starting.

The exhaustive list of features fitted to the Panamera include 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; Bluetooth control for hands-free phone operation; and roller controls on the steering wheel that set the standard for tuning audio and entertainment features on the go. 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. While other German car companies have moved to centralized functions and a balky controller, Porsche uses lots of buttons for vehicle functions-a decision to be applauded.

7

2010 Porsche Panamera

Styling

The 2010 Porsche Panamera is ungainly from the outside, but more beautiful inside.

With the 2010 Panamera sedan, Porsche fills out its lineup with a truly spacious four-door that makes few compromises in its search for buyers seeking shattering power, great handling, and real room for four adults. It's no four-door coupe, like the Aston Martin Rapide or the Mercedes-Benz CLS, but a true "gran turismo."

Styling is a major controversy point. TheCarConnection.com's editors and reviewers from around the Web find the shape awkward. The Panamera's front fenders and rear lines help create a low drag coefficient, and rounded headlamps and tapered tail lamps render traditional details handsomely. The front end is low-but the rear roofline isn't, which makes the Panamera seem out of proportion, even in darker tones. Despite the obvious comparisons to Porsche's iconic 911, Edmunds says that the Panamera "isn't a four-door 911 - the engine's in the front, for one thing - but the 911's spirit is alive and kicking" in the Panamera, a common sentiment among reviewers surveyed by TheCarConnection.com. Edmunds also calls it an "undeniably sleek and sporty automobile," but others don't share that enthusiasm. Motor Trend in particular points out that "the controversial exterior styling is still awkward from side on," although they do concede that, "on the road, in the traffic, it's a striking looking car." Cars.com is less polite, griping that what Porsche has done "isn't styling - this is some kind of weird enlargement surgery you go to South America for."

The Panamera's cabin is a blend of leather, wood, and plastic, with a little too much of the last. Porsche's ignition sits to the left of the steering wheel, which itself comes from the 911, but most of the rest of the dash touches on new styling themes that aren't always successful. Wide flanks of buttons surround the console and overhead controls, giving them gills-a strange touch when the wood and leather lend an appealing 1970s flair that's executed even better in the console separating the rear seats. The control stalks on the column feel wiggly and out of touch with the rest of the quality pieces, too. Edmunds laments that there are "more center stack buttons than a button factory." Motor Trend reports that the 2010 Porsche Panamera's cabin "is truly gorgeous," combining materials and styling elements "in ways that will have Audi's interior designers sitting up and taking notice." Cars.com adds that the "four-seat interior design is the best on the market," while Autoblog christens the cockpit "unique and innovative." Several other reviewers return to the Edmunds criticism of the interior layout, although Autoblog notes that, "while intimidating at first glance, the sea of buttons are logically placed into quadrants" according to function, and "after some familiarization, their individual operations are readily absorbed."

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9

2010 Porsche Panamera

Performance

The 2010 Porsche Panamera shatters performance-sedan barriers with a supple ride and steering, as well as phenomenal Turbo power.

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.

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2010 Porsche Panamera

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Porsche Panamera is astonishingly practical and crafted from high-quality materials.

It sounds a bit unusual, but the rear seats are more comfortable than the front chairs in the 2010 Porsche Panamera. There's plenty of room and support in either set of buckets-and the driver's seat is the one you'll arm-wrestle for-but the rears have more width, thanks to the slimmer center console, along with plenty of headroom and foot room, too.

Although the 2010 Porsche Panamera is a large four-door sedan, Edmunds reports that the Panamera has "only four seats" in its "surprisingly spacious interior." Up front, Edmunds says that the driving compartment is "eminently accommodating," while Autoblog raves that "all seating positions are extremely comfortable and supportive." The rear seats score very well with reviewers also, and Motor Trend proclaims that the Porsche Panamera's "rear seat is terrific," as it "swallows a pair of six foot adults with ease." Edmunds observes that rear passengers have "head- and legroom to spare" as they relax in seats that "can be optioned with eight-way power adjustability, heating, cooling and, believe it or not, a refrigerated box." It's a little amazing to have more headroom in a Porsche rear seat than in a 2010 Ford Taurus, but it's true here. TheCarConnection.com's editors also note the rear seats have power adjustments and ventilation like those in front in many versions, though on some Panameras, leather is applied just to the seat surface, not the sides.

In addition to offering voluminous passenger space, the 2010 Porsche Panamera provides a large trunk that compares favorably with everything else in the class. Behind the backseats is a cargo area that's roomy enough for four roll-aboards, and it's easily accessed from a power tailgate with a rear window shaped like those on Porsche sports cars. All four doors have unique holders that maintain a set position on any incline, for easy exits and entries. The backseats also flip down to expose 44.6 cubic feet of cargo space, enough for two bicycles with front wheels still attached, Porsche says. Edmunds reports "the trunk is accessed via a power hatchback and measures an impressive 15.7 cubic feet." If you're making that monthly bulk grocery run, Motor Trend says that the Porsche Panamera's "rear seats fold to boost the luggage capacity from 15.7 cu ft to 44.6 cu ft, just under what you can fit behind the third row of a Chevy Suburban." The 2010 Porsche Panamera also "offers a roof rack and a trailer hitch," according to Motor Trend, which should allow you to find room for just about anything your weekend-or weeklong-escape requires.

In keeping with its near six-figure base price, the 2010 Porsche Panamera is bathed in top-notch materials that Cars.com calls "exquisite." Edmunds similarly raves about the "beautiful cabin quality," and Car and Driver feels that "the cabin is stitched with such impeccable savoir-faire that it more than compensates for any cheese puffery in the design." Porsche Panamera drivers have a choice when it comes to interior materials, as Autoblog finds that the Panamera "pampers its occupants with yards of leather, fine wood (or carbon fiber), aluminum trim, and high-quality plastics."

Unlike the purebred Porsche 911, the Porsche Panamera emphasizes a quiet, refined ride, and it shows in the interior decibel levels. Motor Trend is impressed to find that, even while running down the autobahn at 130 mph, there is "little more than a rustle of wind around the A-pillars and a muted hum from the tires, allowing you to enjoy a quiet conversation with your passengers." Autoblog records similar results, claiming that "at U.S. highway speeds the Panamera is a very stable platform nearly absent of wind noise." Some people crave an audible representation of their speed, however, and for them Car and Driver says that Porsche includes "a button to make the otherwise somewhat hushed exhaust louder."

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2010 Porsche Panamera

Safety

The 2010 Porsche Panamera hasn't been crash-tested, but offers a long list of safety equipment and options.

Porsche goes to other extremes to guarantee the Panamera's performance in accidents. Though neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has tested its crash safety, its extensive list of standard safety features earns a high score from TheCarConnection.com.

ConsumerGuide confirms "safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags"; Edmunds adds "front knee airbags" are on the list of inflatables. There's also an active hood that pops up to mitigate injuries in car-pedestrian accidents. Rear side airbags are an option.

Rearview cameras assist when backing up, and the multifunction display in the gauges allows drivers to toggle through car functions and displays, including navigation, while keeping more focus on the road ahead. All-wheel drive is a safety benefit on its own, even more so on the ferociously powerful Panamera Turbo-and Porsche permits drivers to cycle through various traction and stability control modes for all kinds of driving situations. Depending on your confidence level, Autoblog reports that the "stability control raises its intervention threshold based on the driver selected sport settings," although the "stability control may be completely defeated at the touch of a button." A hill-holder feature keeps the car from rolling back on inclines when starting.

Despite its impressive list of safety credentials, the 2010 Porsche Panamera isn't perfect; in fact, its driver sightlines are rather poor in some directions. While Autoblog finds that "visibility out the front and side is good," the "three-quarter view over the shoulder is a bit limited by the thick C-pillar."

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9

2010 Porsche Panamera

Features

The 2010 Porsche Panamera swaddles occupants in high-tech luxury, which shouldn't come as a surprise at this price point.

There are few stones left unturned in the 2010 Porsche Panamera's features and options portfolio. The exhaustive list of features fitted to the Panamera include 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; Bluetooth control for hands-free phone operation; and roller controls on the steering wheel that set the standard for tuning audio and entertainment features on the go.

The base Porsche Panamera S starts at just under $90,000 and features "a sunroof, adaptive bi-xenon headlights...eight-way power front seats," and a standard "hard-drive-based navigation system and an 11-speaker CD audio system," according to Edmunds. The navigation system itself is intuitive and looks good, but the best part is that Cars.com says the system includes "a second navigation display embedded in the instrument panel." The 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S features a similar equipment list, but it gets a four-wheel-drive system that boosts the base price to $93,800. Edmunds reports that the ultra-exclusive Porsche Panamera Turbo adds "front parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, 10-way power front seats and adjustable lumbar support," as well as a "14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system."

For those who want more than the "base" amenities on the 2010 Porsche Panamera, Edmunds says that the lineup is "highly customizable," but both Edmunds and other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com warn customers to "watch out for price-inflating options." Among those options, Motor Trend raves about "the sparkling clarity of the optional 1000 watt, 16 speaker Burmeister high-end sound system," while Cars.com points out that "a dual-screen entertainment system is available for backseat-passenger enjoyment." The sound system scores particularly highly among reviewers, with Cars.com claiming that it provides "the best road-going audio [they've] ever heard." All versions of the 2010 Porsche Panamera can be equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, which ConsumerGuide says will allow drivers to adjust "powertrain and suspension tuning to suit high-performance driving." Other options include 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; and XM Satellite Radio. Adaptive cruise control is available, as are sport seats and heating and ventilation for all seating positions.

A final note: while other German car companies have moved to centralized functions and a balky controller, Porsche uses lots of buttons for vehicle functions-a decision to be applauded, though it clutters the Panamera's dash.

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May 27, 2015
2010 Porsche Panamera 4-Door HB 4S

Best Performing Full Size Sedan!

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Beautiful interior, roomy rear seats, and best handling of all sedans that I have driven in $100K class. If you like the “ Baby Got Back” rear, you will love this sedan. You can dive into corners with this... + More »
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