- Lumpy look is gone
- More powerful
- Promises great handling
- Beautiful inside
- U.S. doesn't get Europe's powerful diesel
- Sure to be pricey
- Still doesn't have its own design language
With better looks, more efficient and powerful engines, and a less cluttered interior, the 2017 Porsche Panamera promises to be a better carn than the fun sport sedan it's always been.
Porsche's full-size sedan, which is really a hatchback, enters its second generation for the 2017 model year. The new Panamera is a little larger than the first generation, and it's better looking. Two new engines are offered, both more powerful and efficient than those they replace. It also gets new digital controls inside, with far fewer buttons, and it adds some safety technology.
The biggest issue with the first-generation Panamera was the styling. It's roofline had a lumpy look to leave plenty of headroom for rear passengers. The new model features an evolution of that design that is sleeker, and therefore better integrated from a design standpoint. Dropping the roofline by 0.8 inch above the rear passenger compartment took care of the issue.
Based on a new modular platform known as the MSB, the 2017 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. The extra wheelbase was achieved by shifting the front wheels forward, which had the secondary effect of shortening the front overhang and lengthening the rear overhang.
The front end features a new A-shaped lower air intake, flanked by more angular outside intakes. The hood sits lower thanks to new compact engine designs. Intricate detail can be found in the LED headlights (LED matrix headlights will be optional), imparting a high-tech look.
At the rear, new LED taillights have a 3D look and resemble the units on the latest 911. In fact, the whole car's shape, from the low, flat nose to the rounded body panels to the extendable rear spoiler to the pronounced rear haunches, is inspired by the 911.
For 2017, Porsche will offer the Panamera in 4S and Turbo models, both with all-wheel drive. The base, GTS, and SE Hybrid models will not return, at least initially. A new plug-in hybrid model is likely to come, and so is a sleek wagon bodystyle.
The Panamera 4S is powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. It produces 20 horsepower more than the engine it replaces for a total of 440. Torque increases by 22 pound-feet to 406. Porsche says the Panamera 4S can launch from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, or 4.0 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package, and reach 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 horsepower. That's up 30 horsepower from the last Turbo, which was powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V-8, Torque tops out at 567 pound-feet That matches the overboost torque figure for the last engine, which had 516 lb-ft of torque otherwise. The 4.0 features cylinder deactivation to shut down four cylinders under light load conditions to save fuel. 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.
Both engines have their turbochargers located in the "hot V" between the cylinder banks, and both are linked to a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission that Porsche calls PDK.
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.
Inside, the most notable change is the loss of several buttons and gauges in favor of digital displays. In front of the driver Porsche places a pair of 7-inch instrument panel screens that flank a centrally located analog tachometer. Porsche calls this setup the Porsche Advanced cockpit. In the middle of the center stack is a new 12.3-inch configurable touchscreen that works like a tablet.
In the rear, an optional four-zone climate control system comes with its own digital screen so passengers can control the climate system and the infotainment functions. Other interior options are set to include a panoramic sunroof, massaging seats, ambient lighting, and a Burmester 3D sound system.
A 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat returns, and cargo volume is 17.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 46.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
Two new safety technologies will be offered as well. A Night Vision Assistant uses a thermal imaging camera to detect people and large animals and warn drivers of their presence. Porsche's new InnoDrive system, which includes adaptive cruise control, uses 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.
Porsche hasn't released fuel economy figures but claims the V-6 will be 11 percent more efficient in the European cycle. Porsche also says the V-8 will be up to 30 percent more efficient, but that is with four cylinders shut off.
The new Panamera is due in showrooms next January. The Panamera 4S will start at $100,950, while the Panamera Turbo will be priced at $147,950.