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As Porsche as it can get

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Porsche states that its four-door supercar, the Panamera, is anything but your average family saloon under the skin. To back their statement, they allowed us a sneak-peek into the engineering secrets that go under this car’s bodywork.

Looking at the Panamera from the outside, you’ll be surprised at just how low the car really is. A feature that’s really difficult to make out from photographs. This car is also really wide. You simply can’t help sing this car’s praises, that is, until you come to the rear. Whatever angle you look at it from, the rear section simply doesn’t gel with the rest of the car.

The interiors of the Panamera are surprisingly as plush as that of a Bentley. It features some of the best chrome seen on a car, fine leather and plenty of shiny wood. Though huge, this car doesn’t give you a Limo feel. The full length of the central console gives it a cockpit-like feel. The dashboard, apart from the very attractive Carrera GT-like central console, could have come from any Porsche 911 variant. Rear passengers have adjustable bucket seats that are almost identical to those in the front.

We asked R&D vice-president Wolfgang Durheimer if Porsche had thought about coming up with a rear-engined, four-door car — with the 911 being the perfect donor. And the response was : “We needed to use the V8s from the Cayenne, so the rear engine was out.” Still, we think that this would have made for a much more fascinating car.

The Panamera’s current objectives are pretty clear: Raw speed, four doors and good fuel economy. The last part may surprise some , but the fact is that Porsche has recently been hammering away at getting its cars to deliver good economy, even when driven hard. Their efforts did not go in vain as the outcome resulted in fantastic fuel economy for the Panamera S and the Turbo. Porsche has pieced together many small gains to make a big difference — one of them is the dual-clutch gearbox which is programmed to shift up as early as 2000rpm in ‘Normal’ driving mode.

We were taken for a ride in the car, no pun intended, in Normal mode. With both air chambers in the air suspension open and the active anti-roll bars not exerting much effort, the cars ride quality impressed us. The car felt refined and smooth, making us feel relaxed. The long wheelbase and medium profile tyres meant bump absorption were pretty good, the suspension rounding off most of the bumps silently.

Boasting comfort for four plus luggage and sports car performance in a single package, Porsche might have just cracked the segment wide open. And how!

SHAPUR KOTWAL

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