Vehicle Reviews

Porsche Panamera - Review of the week

Porsche's latest Panamera five-door full size luxury car will be more appealing to boardroom buyers on this Continent than ever before in its latest smarter, more engaging and more efficient guise.

The Porsche Panamera has evolved. This revitalised full size luxury car not only looks a whole lot smarter but is also bigger, more powerful and sharper to drive. Porsche may not have got it right first time, but this latest car looks to be one formidable contender in the best full size luxury car segment.

This being Porsche, we can't just rely on more efficient engines. We also want more power. So that's exactly what's been delivered here. Almost all British buyers are going to want to consider the new 4S V8 diesel, a 422bhp 4.0-litre unit that puts out an astonishing 627lbft of torque. It makes 62mph in just 4.5s (or 4.3s with launch control) on the way to 177mph. Alternatively, for petrol people, there's a 440bhp 2.9-litre V6 in the Porsche Panamera 4S and a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 in the Panamera Turbo, developing 550bhp. Initially, all Panameras will feature all-wheel drive and a ZF-sourced eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.

All variants of this full size luxury car are exceedingly quick. The petrol 4S, which shares its engine with the upcoming Audi RS4 and RS5 models, storms from zero to 62mph in a claimed 4.2 seconds; the Turbo manages it in 3.6 seconds, and in both cases, the optional Sport Chrono package shaves off a further 0.2 second thanks to its launch-control function. Stated top speed is 180mph for the 4S and 190mph for the Turbo. Underneath the sleeker bodywork lies a new mixed-material MSB platform that will also be used for the next-generation Bentley Continental GT. This is not only more rigid, but is also lighter. Optional extras include a new three-chamber air suspension, all-wheel steering and a clever cruise control system that takes into account speed limits, bends and inclines.

Porsche Panamera - Review of the week

The shape is certainly sleeker - and so is what lies beneath. The Porsche Panamera is their first full size luxury car model built off the Volkswagen Group's MSB (Modularer Standard-Baukasten) architecture, a lighter, stiffer set-up than before. As before, the sloping roofline and large rear pillars mean that rearward visibility is a little compromised. Otherwise, inside, things are also much improved. Porsche has moved many of the controls to a touch-sensitive panel, with other features accessible via a 12.3-inch colour touchscreen in the centre of the dash - though it's annoying that you have to prod away at this to alter the airflow out of the central vents. There are also a pair of configurable 7.0-inch screens in the instrument binnacle. Here, we'd still prefer a full screen set-up like Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit'.

In the back, as before, there are two sports chairs that position rear occupants for a great view out ahead. Legroom still isn't as generous as you'd get in a comparably-priced full size luxury car models though. The boot isn't as big as, say, an S-Class or a 7 Series either and has quite a high lip, though there is the bonus of hatchback practicality.

Want the cleverest of all the big super saloons? You're looking at it right here in the revitalised shape of the Porsche Panamera. Granted, not everyone loves a smart aleck but there's something about the depth of engineering in this full size luxury car that's both enormously reassuring and hugely effective. Great driving manners are a given. This is a Porsche after all. What's not quite so predictable is the way the Panamera manages to worm its way into your affections after a while.

Porsche has made great strides in improving the Panamera's efficiency, while the Plug-in Hybrid model remains an interesting, if pricey left-field option. At the top of the line-up, you still get the crazy Turbo model, while the diesel will remain popular. And overall? Well, we would never have thought it four years ago, but the Porsche Panamera might just be the car to beat as the best full size luxury car in the class.

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