Most people tend to think of Porsches as two-door sportscars with styling overtones of the original 911 models from way back in 1963. The ones with the engine behind the back wheels that could cause inexperienced drivers to lose control.
But the legendary German company has also branched out into the four-door sports sedan and station wagon field (and Cayenne SUVs, but that’s another story).
The Porsche Panamera range recently received an upgrade – which gave us the opportunity to enjoy one of our all-time favourite four-door sedans. Our test car was the GTS with all-wheel-drive.
Okay, it has to be said, the Panamera looks like a Porsche – anything else would have been sacrilegious and caused Porsche enthusiasts to storm the doors of the design studio.
Though it’s relatively tall in the front to make space for a V8 engine it still looks shapely. The roof starts to flow down from just above the B-pillar (more about that in a moment). The rear also looks 911 and the tail-lights are full width.
Inside there are four individual seats which are shaped for body support during hard cornering. Those in the rear shouldn’t be overly tall and legroom is limited if those in front want their seats well back.
Comfort hasn’t been overly compromised to provide body support and long country trips will leave all occupants feeling fresh. That’s if the driver hasn’t been practicing for the hot laps of the Nurburgring…
The twin drink holders favour the passenger side rather than being switched over to suit Aussies and others who drive on our side of the road.
The instrument panel sees the tachometer take pride of place in the centre, with the speedo to its left. Smaller circular dials provide information on car functions and car settings.
Smartphone integration allows a connection from a smartphone to the Porsche and get some of the apps directly on the Porsche Communication Management screen. Both Apple CarPlay (wireless available) and Android Auto (wired only) are supported. Voice recognition is good and lets the driver use apps while driving.
The Bose Surround Sound System has 14 loudspeakers including subwoofer, 14 amplifier channels and a total output of 710 Watts. It sounds exceptionally good.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Arguably the biggest news in the 2021 Porsche Panamera is that the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 now produces 353kW and 620Nm. That’s a 15kW increase over the superseded model, but torque remains the same. Torque is there from 1800 to 4000 rpm, meaning that it’s at its peak for most of the time in normal driving.
Power is sent to all four wheels though an eight-speed Porsche PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission,
It hasn’t been tested by outside authorities but it seems likely the Panamera GTS would gain a high score well into five stars.
Standard equipment includes driver and front passenger airbags, knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, front-side airbags, side airbags for rear-seat passengers, full length curtain airbags and adaptive cruise control with Porsche Active Safe.
The Panamera’s engine fires up with a real V8 grumble that gives you the message that it’s ready to provide real driving pleasure. All Australian imports have the excellent sound of the Sports Exhaust System, which makes sense because we live in a country where any speed over 110 km/h is regarded as dangerous. But don’t get me started on that…
Acceleration is all-but instantaneous because it has a four-litre capacity (double that of many turbocharged engines these days). When the Porsche’s turbos get up to full pressure there’s rocketship-like performance that presses you back into the seat.
Zero to 100 takes just 3.9 seconds and it goes onto to a top speed of 290 km/h where conditions permit.
Handling is impressive with very good feedback through the wheel. It turns in promptly but keep in mind that this is a two-tonne vehicle not a two-door sports machine so you probably won’t take it to track days. Or would you, just for the hell of it?
Road noise is low even on the rough n’ ready country roads that are part of the route on when we test our cars. There’s some bump-thump over concrete joins on bridges but on established motorways this is minimal.
The speedo and other important information is shown on the windscreen. But if you wear polarising sunglasses, as I do, it’s only visible if you tilt your head. Which is ridiculous, other car makers don’t require you to do this.
Porsche’s updated Panamera offers the performance of a sports car in a four-door sedan that can be used on a day-to-day basis for work or taken on high-speed country trips that will bring a smile to your face.
AT A GLANCE
Panamera 3.0 RWD sedan: $203,500
Panamera 3.0 AWD sedan: $213,700
Panamera 2.9 E-Hybrid AWD sedan: $249,500
Panamera 3.0 Executive AWD sedan: $223,100
Panamera 2.9 E-Hybrid Executive AWD sedan: $258,900
Panamera 2.9 4S E-Hybrid sedan: $294,600
Panamera 4.0 GTS AWD sedan: $312,900
Panamera 4.0 GTS AWD sedan: $415,700
Panamera 4.0 Turbo S E-Hybrid AWD sedan: $426,500
Panamera 3.0 4 Sport Turismo AWD wagon: $221,000
Panamera 2.9 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo AWD wagon: $256,800
Panamera 4.0 GTS Sport Turismo AWD: $320,200
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Porsche dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Porsche Panamera 4.0 GTS AWD four-door sedan)
Capacity: 3.996 litres
Maximum Power: 353 kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 620 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): Not supplied
CO2 Emissions: 267 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed dual clutch automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5053 mm
Wheelbase: 290 mm
Width: 1937 mm
Height: 1417 mm
Turning Circle: 11.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 2020 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 90 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres