The updated Porsche Panamera 4s blends the sportscar and luxury saloon experience
Porsche’s Panamera has been claimed by the carmaker as a sportscar that can be used for everyday driving. And as true as that held for the older car, the updated one, if anything, only improves upon it. It’s very comfortable to live with and, at the same time, makes no compromises about the Panamera’s sportscar character.
I’m driving the latest Panamera in Germany and, on the outside, it doesn’t look very different from the old car. The odd boat-like dimensions are the same. I drove the Panamera 4S, which now comes with a 3.0-litre V6 motor instead of the V8. It has lost 1800cc and two cylinders to the outgoing model, but Porsche has replaced them with twin-turbochargers, and the motor now makes a whopping 414bhp. Not only does this motor produce 19bhp more than the old car, Porsche also claims that it’s cleaner and more efficient too. But it’s the way this engine responds to anything you ask of it that impresses the most. And unlike the old engine, which needed to be worked hard to give its best, this motor generates a whopping 53kgm of torque from just 1750rpm, making performance more accessible in real-world driving. Just a tap on the throttle and the 4S takes off like a 1.8-tonne car shouldn’t, and even short bursts of acceleration are addictive.
The seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox is lightning quick with its shifts and, as ever, you can use it in manual mode, gears shifting up only when you pull the right paddle.
Flat-out performance is uncannily rapid, with 100kph taking a claimed 4.8 seconds. Tone it all down and the Panamera is still equally impressive.
On some of the more congested streets in Munich, it’s quickly apparent with the 4S in the Comfort setting, that this car is as civilised as any conventional luxury car. But when you show this big Porsche a winding road, it simply blows your mind. The Panamera demonstrates an eagerness for corners that you would never expect from a car of this size and weight.
Body control is exceptional and the adaptive dampers are great at reacting in an instant to all but eliminate roll, pitch and dive, and deliver nimble handling. The chassis is remarkably neutral and the steering impresses because it makes it so easy to accurately place this big, wide car on the road.
There’s a price to pay for this good handling though, and that’s in the way the Panamera rides. Initial impressions are that it feels a little too jittery. Small, sharp ridges occasionally cause a cross-cabin vibration and it doesn’t isolate you in the way a conventional luxury saloon can. It is even more apparent in Sport mode, where the car feels too stiff, and unless you are going to drive it on a racetrack (which is unlikely in India), you are better off with Comfort mode. The ride is much more supple in Comfort, and except for sharp ridges, most other undulations are taken smoothly. There are minor changes to the new Panamera’s cabin and, apart from the small windows, there’s little to complain about. Its cockpit-like design, brilliant quality and supremely comfortable seats make it feel special. And yes, your passengers will be comfy in the back too. Just request them to travel light though, because the Panamera’s 445-litre boot can’t hold much. That’s one of the compromises you have to live with when you buy something that’s part-sportscar and part-luxury saloon.
The updated Panamera is expected to be priced similar to the current model (Rs. 1.5 crore, estimated, ex-showroom, Delhi. But then, if it’s a Porsche experience you want, that extra price will definitely have to be paid.
Price Rs 1.5 crore (est. ex-showroom, Delhi)
Kerb weight 1870kg
Engine 2997cc V6 petrol
Installation Front, longitudinal, AWD
Power414bhp at 6000rpm
Torque53kgm at 1750-5000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed, dual clutch
Fuel tank100 litres
Boot 445 litres