PORSCHE PANAMERA: SECOND GENERATION

Porsche_Panamera_frontPorsche’s stylists have achieved the seemingly impossible, giving the second generation of their Panamera the looks of a full-on sportscar, not the shape of a low-slung sedan.

The first generation Panamera, launched in Australia in September 2009, had a somewhat humpbacked roofline that created a fair bit of criticism. There’s an unconfirmed story going around that original designers penned a sleek roofline, but were forced to add a higher roof to suit the head of a 190cm senior German Porsche guy who felt squashed in the back seat.

That’s history now – if it was true in the first place. Brilliant styling has gen-two Porsche Panamera looking like a proper sportscar, not a sedan with extra height. A four-door 911? It comes pretty close to our eyes. Love it.

The really interesting thing is that the tall German gent would be able to sit in the back of the new car without damaging his hairdo. That’s because the backside-to-roof distance in the new Panamera is the same as in the superseded model. To achieve this the new roof is 20 mm higher at the front to permit the ‘proper Porsche slope’ at the back. The back seats are 20 mm lower.

There’s a big variety of powertrains: a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-petrol that’s an upgraded version of the one in the gen-one Panamera. It now produces 243 kW and 450 Nm and can be ordered in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. All other models are AWD only. It won’t be downunder until Q3 ’17.

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Every model comes with an eight-speed double-clutch PDK automatic.

Two test vehicle offered on the media launch. One was the Panamera 4S with an all-new 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol with 324 kW and 550 Nm. Torque began at just 1750 revs and continues to 5500 rpm for seemingly never ending boost.

The other, likely to be the most popular, was the 4.0-litre V8 again with twin turbos sitting between the cylinder banks, and again it’s an all-new design. With a stunning 404 kilowatts of power and 770 Newton metres of torque, the latter from 1960 to 4500 revs it has a zero to 100 time of 3.8 seconds when in launch mode by way of the Sports Chrono package.

Turbo-diesel engines aren’t as popular these days as during their peak three years back, but Panamera is offered with a stunning 4.0-litre oil burner in 4S format. Would you believe 850 Nm from not much over idle – 1000 rpm? It runs at that peak until 3250 is reading out on the tacho.

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Also coming in the third quarter of 2017 is a Panamera Hybrid with a 3.0-litre V6 and electric drive. Peak combined figures are 340 kW / 700 Nm.

Starting from Newcastle, NSW airport the media launch route covered around 400 km of excellent touring roads in the Hunter Valley winery region. Piloting a Panamera 4S on day one, and the stunning Panamera Turbo the next morning saw us emerging from the drivers’ seats with big grins on our faces.

Panamera 4S is very quick, the Turbo stunningly so. Excellent for safe overtaking on roads with more than their fair share of bends and minimal straights. There’s virtually no turbo lag in either car as the new design sees the two turbos sitting inside the engine’s V so they’re nice and close to the exhaust outlets.

The weather was very hot, in the mid 40s at times, which could have played havoc with keeping the turbos cool. Obviously there’s clever engineering to keep them at the correct temperature. It’s amazing what you can do with high-tech materials and the miracles of electronic monitoring and variation within systems.

There’s a huge amount of grip in these low-slung sports sedans and going around bends on dry roads at double the suggested speeds didn’t cause the slightest trouble.

Road noise and vibration was nicely subdued on the Panamera 4S, but the bigger tyres and even sportier setup on the Turbo did create a bit of a coarse-chip racket at times. Nothing like as bad as in the latest 911s, though.

Though Panamera can justifiably be called a four-door sedan there’s not a huge amount of space in the back. It’s certainly not a 2+2, but neither is it a limo. There are two slightly narrow seats in the rear, with a large console between them. The occupants have their own touchscreen to control things like rear cabin climate, the shades of the sunroof, the audio system and satellite navigation. The rear travellers have twin USB charge points and drinkholders.

With the driver’s seat in position for my 182cm frame there wasn’t room to sit behind myself in comfort (if that’s not too Irish!) in the back. On the other hand, two adults, one behind the other on the passenger side could come to a decent compromise.

Luggage space under the large hatch, at 495 litres, can easily cope with luggage for Mum, Dad and a couple of kids. The rear backrests fold down for added cargo management.

New Porsche Panamera is a stunning example of modern sportscar design. It looks simply stunning, goes like stink and while not exactly cheap it does provide pretty good value in this stratospheric area of the car market.

The complete Porsche Panamera range is:
Panamera: $210,000
Panamera 4: $220,400
Panamera 4 E-Hybrid: $242,600
Panamera 4S: $304,200
Panamera 4S Diesel: $312,100
Panamera Turbo: $376,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Porsche dealer for driveaway prices.

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