- Fantastic acceleration and impressive steering (Turbo and Turbo S)
- PDK gearbox remains a benchmark
- High-speed stability and handling are excellent
- S E Hybrid is powerful, efficient
- Spacious rear seat
- Exterior styling still an acquired taste
- Interior design can be busy, button-heavy
- Driving aids sometimes interfere with driving feel
- Very expensive at upper end of the range
The 2015 Porsche Panamera keeps delivering its phenomenal balance of utility, luxury, and performance.
The 2015 Porsche Panamera is as it looks—a surprising combination of large luxury sedan and high-performance sports car. It offers a lot to love, to a wide range of potential buyers, thanks to its large and truly usable back seat, upscale interior, and brilliant dynamics, plus a range of powertrains that permit frugal plug-in hybrid operation or near-supercar performance.
Yet the Panamera isn't for everyone who can afford it; the look is polarizing—especially at the rear—and it spirals easily out of pricing control if you don't lay a judicious hand on the options order sheet. If you can handle the price and if you love the look, the Panamera's performance, its wide range of available powertrains, and its available custom touches make it a keen alternative to the likes of a BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe or a Mercedes-Benz CLS—or even an S-Class.
Last year, the Panamera S E Hybrid was added, bringing new and high-tech gas-saving features to the Panamera line. For the new model year, the Panamera hasn't been changed in any significant way—only a few cosmetic touches have been altered, and only a few features changed.
The Panamera's styling is an acquired taste. Last year, a complete though mild redesign gave a more streamlined, swept-back look thanks to revised front and rear end treatments, a shallower windshield angle, and, on Executive models, longer rear doors.
The long roofline and the arch near the rear end are supposed to call up subconscious associations with the 911, but instead it looks awkward. From most other angles, the overall effect is appealing, if somewhat super-sized for a Porsche. The cabin's sportscar touches are welcome; there's a button or a knob for almost every function, so there's no muddling around with touchscreen controls. In the back, the Panamera's an executive limo, with plenty of space and features.
From the base and Panamera 4 models, now sporting 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from a 3.6-liter normally aspirated V-6 engine, to the Panamera Turbo at 520 horsepower from a 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, to the all-new Panamera S E-Hybrid's 416 horsepower from a 95-horsepower electric motor and 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 combo, there's plenty of pep at any point in the range, with room to upgrade for those seeking more get-up-and-go.
A new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 powers Panamera S, Panamera 4S, and Panamera 4S Executive models, rated at 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. We expect this will become the new base engine soon, as Porsche plans ahead for a smaller sedan in its lineup.
All versions except the Panamera S E-Hybrid come standard with Porsche's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle-shift manual mode. The E-Hybrid gets its own eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, also with manual-mode shift controls on the steering wheel. Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive with anti-slip regulation (ASR) is standard on all-wheel drive models.
As with the previous generation, there's ample cargo space inside the Panamera with the rear seats laid flat. The hatchback-like profile adds clearance for larger packages or luggage—Porsche claims two fully-assembled bicycles will fit in the rear. Fit, finish, and materials are all held to a high standard, and the driver-centric layout of the front row controls give a sporty look and feel.
As for features and electronics, Porsche offers many standard and optional systems, including standard ParkAssist distance-sensing, standard cruise control, a standard Porsche Communication Management system with 7.0-inch color touchscreen and navigation with 3D maps. An Sport Chrono package (standard on Panamera GTS) is available, with improved performance modes; and a range of highly adjustable power seat upgrades are also available.
On the safety front, Porsche offers a full complement of side, front, knee, and curtain airbags as standard, plus additional seat belt pre-tensioners, manual seat belt height adjustment, and LATCH child seat mounts, also standard on all models. You won't find some of the advanced safety electronics systems offered by other luxury performance sedans, such as night vision or pedestrian detection, however. The Porsche Panamera hasn't yet been crash-tested by the IIHS or NHTSA.
2015 Porsche Panamera
The 2015 Porsche Panamera continues to polarize with its styling, with details that mostly work, and a somewhat awkward rear roofline.
Updated slightly for last year, the 2015 Porsche Panamera’s exterior look goes into the new year essentially unchanged—which means it remains an unusual configuration of curves. For those who appreciate it, it’s handsome at best, with many attractive details; for others, it can seem downright ungainly, particularly from the rear three-quarters view.
The only new looks for the 2015 model year are: exterior colors, including Jet Black Metallic and Sapphire Blue Metallic; new interior colors, including standard Black/Luxor Beige, optional Saddle Brown or Black/Saddle brown leather; and Panamera Executive models get Brilliant Silver air outlets and intake slats, Executive badging on the D pillar, and a Brilliant Silver active rear spoiler. New optional aesthetics include a 20-inch 911 Turbo Design wheel.
Despite the lack of updates, last year’s tweaks keep the Panamera’s look fresh, with crisper lines and more dramatic accents in the form of wider air inlets and a more sharply radiused power-dome hood. From the front, the Panamera resembles a larger-scale 911, but that’s where the similarities end. A long roof line (even longer on Executive models) drops toward the tail with a bubbled curve, making fantastic room for rear seat passengers, but at the expense of the exterior’s grace. The rear view is simple and largely unadorned, but suffers from the unusual rear roof and window area. Still, on the whole, the Panamera is comely—it’s just not for everyone.
Once inside the Panamera, however, the story is different: a fully modern Porsche environment provides stylish, high-tech looks over a clean design dominated by straight lines and flat surfaces. A button-heavy center console layout looks like a veritable control center, but its function is undeniable—no digging through touchscreen or wheel-driven menus, just tap a button and get back to the driving.
2015 Porsche Panamera
The Panamera range offers most of the 911's sporty fun on the street, while greatly expanding comfort, luxury, and practicality.
Porsche offers a wide range of models in the Panamera line: the standard Panamera, Panamera S, Panamera GTS, Panamera Turbo, and Panamera S E-Hybrid form the core of the range. Panamera and Panamera S models can be had with all-wheel drive in 4 and 4S models. The high-performance GTS and Turbo models come standard with all-wheel drive; the S E Hybrid is rear-drive only. Panamera 4S and Turbo models can also be had in long-wheelbase Executive form.
At the entry point, the Panamera keeps its familiar 3.6-liter V-6 engine. With 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque on tap, it's the slowest Panamera, clocking 6.0-second 0-60 mph times with rear drive (5.7 seconds with Sport Chrono) or 5.8 seconds with all-wheel drive in the Panamera 4 (5.5 seconds with Sport Chrono). The Panamera S cuts acceleration times to 4.9 seconds (4.6 with Sport Chrono) and the 4S manages 4.6 seconds (4.3 with Sport Chrono). Adding the 5.9-inch wheelbase (and attendant weight) of the Executive to the 4S adds two tenths of a second back to the 0-60 mph time. The GTS is the second-quickest of the Panamera range, hitting 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, 0.3 seconds behind the Panamera Turbo, which Porsche lists at 3.9 seconds (or 3.7 seconds with Sport Chrono). The S E-Hybrid slots right about in the middle of the range, hitting 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
The V-8 engine previously used in S and 4S models was replaced last year with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 offering more power and greater efficiency. Rated at 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, the new V-6 is up to the task, whether cruising to the mall or bombing down the Autobahn.
The most high-tech drivetrain is found in the Panamera S E Hybrid. A supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine joins an electric motor with plug-in charging capabilities. Rated at 416 combined horsepower, which includes the output of the 95 horsepower electric motor, the S E Hybrid doesn't feel as sprightly as the non-hybrid S models, due to the extra weight--about 550 pounds--of the hybrid system and its 9.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That said, the S E Hybrid is quick for a hybrid, and despite the extra heft, Porsche's suspension tuning excellence helps the big car handle well.
The S E Hybrid can also run for up to 22 miles (claimed) in all-electric mode, and do so at speeds up to 83 mph. It can recharge from a 240-volt outlet with the included charger cable in about 2.5 hours, or, if you'd rather be fully charged upon arrival at your destination, the E-Charge system can give a full charge to the batteries while driving, drawing power from the gasoline engine.
The GTS is the driver's pick of the Panamera line, its strong and sonorous 440-hp 4.8-liter V-8 engine cranking out 384 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and the best steering of the Panamera range further enhance performance. The steering improvement in the GTS is particularly noticeable when switching between models, with the GTS's solid, connected feel a strong contrast to the somewhat overboosted, floaty feel of much of the rest of the range.
The Panamera Turbo gets a 520-hp twin-turbo take on the 4.8-liter V-8, making it undeniably quicker than the GTS in a straight line, but it's a more relaxed, less pure driving experience.
Whichever model you choose, the Panamera's chassis remains an able basis, delivering better handling than you'd expect from its 4,000-pound-plus curb weight. The strong basis is aided by Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), and, if equipped, the Sport Chrono package, which add electronic enhancement that improves handling as well as safety.
In addition to improving efficiency at the root with the engines themselves, Porsche offers automatic stop-start and a new coasting function. PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions are standard on all models except the S E-Hybrid, which uses an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission.
2015 Porsche Panamera
Comfort & Quality
The Executive model's roomy rear seat expands the already comfortable and spacious cabin, while Porsche's high-tech luxury suits the Panamera's character.
Roomy and spacious in standard wheelbase form, long-wheelbase Executive model (available on 4S and Turbo variants), introduced last year, adds 5 inches of room. Aimed at the executive sedan crowd, it doesn't offer all of the rear-seat amenities of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series, but owners who are drivers at heart, or who simply wish to stand out from the crowd, will find the Panamera an attractive alternative.
In standard wheelbase models, the rear seats are plenty spacious and quite comfortable. Despite the fastback-like profile, getting in and out of the back is easy, even for taller passengers. Executive models offer more recline angle and more leg room due to a redesigned seat back.
All Panamera models offer a surprising amount of cargo space, behind the seats and under the hatch. The rear seats fold down to add even more space.
The front seats are comfortable, too, and the driver-focused dash still allows the passenger access to the touchscreen and other controls. Throughout the cabin, headroom, legroom, and hip and shoulder room easily meet the demands of six-footers and 200-plus-pounders.
Priced from about $80,000-$160,000, you'd expect fit, finish, and materials to impress, and the Panamera does. If you poke and prod around the less-accessible parts of the cabin (around the B-pillars, and below the knee-line) you'll find quite a bit of hard plastic, but all of the touch points are leather-clad or soft-touch and luxurious.
Porsche's advanced PASM and PDCC suspension and chassis control systems (explained in more detail in the Performance section of this review) help maximize ride comfort while keeping a sporty feel.
2015 Porsche Panamera
The 2015 Porsche Panamera offers plenty of advanced safety equipment, despite a lack of official crash test ratings.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Porsche Panamera, a common situation for expensive luxury cars.
Last year saw the addition of an available Surround View 360-degree display for parking and low-speed maneuvering in tight situations, plus lane departure warning. Other safety-related options include adaptive cruise control with Porsche Active Safe (PAS).
The Panamera's strong set of standard safety equipment includes dual front, side, knee, and side-curtain airbags, and an active pop-up hood for pedestrian protection, which should inspire confidence in the luxury sedan's safety.
Porsche's well-tuned electronic stability and dynamics controls, plus all-wheel-drive (available; standard on some models) enhance traction and improve inclement weather safety and emergency maneuvering.
2015 Porsche Panamera
It may lack some of the ultra-high-tech features of the executive sedan competition, but the Porsche Panamera is still well-equipped and luxurious.
Porsche added some new features to the Panamera line last year, but for 2015, carries forward with only a few new options--but the Panamera has never lacked for features or equipment.
New for 2015 is standard SiriusXM radio with HD Radio receiver and Porsche online services, with Turbo models also getting Porsche Dynamic Lighting System (PDLS), and GTS models available without the GTS emblems on the doors.
Porsche's Car Connect app, standard on Panamera S E Hybrid models (and available on all other models), offers three types of remote access: Porsche Vehicle Tracking; Remote Services, which offers information on the car's status; and hybrid-specific E-Mobility Services for the S E Hybrid; plus a variety of other remote vehicle functions.
All models get standard Bi-Xenon headlights, and optional LED headlights were added last year. The Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus comes with the LED headlights (now standard on Turbo models), adapting the beam to oncoming traffic, reducing glare for other drivers. Four-point daytime running lights are also included with the LED package.
Lane departure warning and Surround View cameras (both optional) use camera and radar systems to enhance safety and convenience. Adaptive cruise control with Porsche Active Safe is optional, controlling following distance during cruising and assisting with braking in emergency situations.
Inside the Panamera, new upholstery colors available for 2015 include the now-standard Black/Luxor Beige combo, or optional Saddle Brown or Black/Saddle Brown two-tone leather. Executive long-wheelbase variants for the 4S and Turbo continue for 2015, extending the wheelbase by 5.9 inches and leg room by 4.7 inches, which allows for increased recline angle of the electronically adjustable rear seat. Heated and ventilated seats are standard in all models, controllable from both front and rear, and four-zone automatic climate control adapts each position for individual comfort.
An available Burmester sound system offers crisp, clear audio--a noticeable upgrade over the standard system. The previously available Bose audio system is discontinued for 2015. A Sport Chrono package boosts performance-focused features and adds a dash-mounted multi-function timer/clock.
A wide range of available exterior and interior colors and combinations are available, as well as wood, aluminum, and carbon fiber trim elements. In fact, the Panamera is a highly configurable car; the only caveat is to be wary of the bottom line as you tick boxes--the price can grow more quickly than you might expect.
2015 Porsche Panamera
The Porsche Panamera's gas mileage is impressive in the context of performance and luxury, but the greenest option is clearly the S E Hybrid.
Porsche's Panamera offers an expansive powertrain range, making an option for almost everyone. That huge powertrain range also means a wide variance in gas mileage, too.
The base Panamera V-6 scores 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined per the EPA; adding all-wheel drive with the Panamera 4 brings the rating to 18/27/22 mpg. The higher-performance Panamera S rates 17/27/21 mpg, and the Panamera 4S downsizes the V-6 and adds a turbo to yield EPA ratings of 17/27/21 mpg; the long-wheelbase Panamera 4S Executive scores 17/26/20 mpg. The driver's car, the Panamera GTS, scores 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined with its 4.8-liter V-8.
The only hybrid in the Panamera range, the high-tech Panamera S-E Hybrid, is rated two ways: with electric-only and gasoline-hybrid mode combined, it scores 50 mpg combined city/highway; in gasoline-only mode, it scores a combined 25 mpg. For a large, high-performance vehicle, both of those ratings are impressive--at least in context.
The extremely fast Panamera Turbo does better than most would expect, with EPA ratings at 15 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. The nearly bonkers Panamera Turbo S yields the same 15/24/18 mpg gas mileage, whether in standard wheelbase or long-wheelbase Panamera Turbo S Executive form.
The Panamera range, on the whole, is not a truly green choice, but for its levels of performance and luxury, it can be very efficient.