The Porsche Panamera Turbo: Big on Both Power and Comfort
Posh and powerful, the Porsche Panamera Turbo is something no one expects to see boasting over 500-horsepower, yet here it sits, with a 4.8 liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood and half the cow hides in Texas upholstering its cabin. Hitting 520 horsepower at 6000 RPM, and zero to 60 in just 3.9 seconds via 516 pound feet of torque, the Panamera Turbo offers to rocket executives to the office at a top speed of 189 miles per hour. If they’re really late for a luncheon all they must do is engage the “Sport Chrono System” and an over-boost function will temporarily increase the turbo pressure by 10%, thus giving the active all-wheel drive, stability management, automatic brake differential, and anti-slip systems one hell of a field day.
This car may look over-sized for a typical Porsche (which it is), but it is far more nimble than one might expect. The variable steering ratio is surprisingly direct as it lessens feedback from the road when going in a straight line. But when the steering wheel gets turned the ratio becomes more pronounced to allow easier cornering and parking. Top that with an electronically controlled dampening system that actively adjusts the dampening force on each corner based on road conditions and driving style, and you’re off to carve up some canyons. Porsche also uses an adaptive air suspension system in this car that levels, lifts, and adjusts ride-height so that execs can safely clear speed bumps and hug corners on the way to their yacht.
But it’s not all performance and power in this over-sized sedan, as it exudes a distinctly Porche level of posh that is hard to ignore. That same button that gives us stiffer suspension can also offer us a cushier ride once pressed, and there is a general sense of purpose to how everything is arranged within the car. It is way better on fuel than one might expect as well, with an average highway fuel economy of around 24 miles per gallon, which isn’t bad for a 520-horsepower car that weighs almost 4,000 pounds. Porsche utilizes a coasting function in these cars, which enables the engine to disconnect from the transmission to prevent deceleration caused by engine braking, and once engaged drops the RPMs to idling levels.
And while many Porsche purists continue to call the Panamera an abomination, Magnus Walker told the Cheat Sheet in an exclusive interview that he considers these cars to be “executive hot rods,” and that these non-traditional models are a much needed, and utterly inevitable evolution of the brand. Just look at it: With its suave lines, aggressive stance, raked roof, and unmistakable head and tail lamps there is no confusing this car for anything other than a Porsche. Oh, and did we mention that it has the ability to stop on a dime and give you 75¢ change? Those massive six- and four-piston aluminum monoblock calipers aren’t just for show, as this heavy-hitter needs more than just big rotors to grind its way to a halt.
But if we wanted uninterrupted adrenaline we would go buy a Dodge Hellcat and hit the local drag strip. The Panamera is not meant for such tomfoolery, as its $141,300 price tag would rather encourage us to fold the rear two seats down so that we may put our custom Porsche luggage inside without incident. Make no mistake, there’s an undeniable sense of German refinement and order within the cabin, as all the car’s key controls are grouped into logical sections in order to keep the driver from having to scroll though a sub-menu that is longer than a copy of War and Peace.
The custom options are endless as well, as buyers get to choose everything from the exterior color to the kind of leather stitching they want. They get to choose from a wide range of wood, aluminum, and carbon fiber finishes, and the Turbo version receives a special headliner that comes completely wrapped in Alcantara.
Automatic climate control with separate temperature controls for all four passengers is available, and if the 14-way power seats are not comfy enough, then bask in the glory of Porsche’s optional “Adaptive Sports Seats,” with their firmer bolstering and 18-way adjustability. The overindulgences don’t stop at the front either, as the back seat gets an eight-way power seat option and features sporty side bolsters to go along with a heating and ventilation feature. Noise-insulated thermal glass is another great option on this car that we like, as it helps maintain privacy while matching the VIP feel of those electric roll-up blinds.
Back up front the standard multifunction steering wheel offers all the amenities we need like gearshift switches, audio and telephone controls, and navigation functions. But this is a turbo version, so if you want a simplified approach to driving, Porsche offers a “SportDesign” steering wheel that keeps the paddle shifters and ditches the rest. There also is plenty of security that comes along with this car, and standard features include a 360 degree-view camera, park and lane change assist, a reverse camera, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings. But who really wants to play it safe all the time when they have that much power coursing to all four wheels? We certainly wouldn’t be found puttering about in this thing, especially when we know that a 570-horsepower Panamera Turbo S Executive edition is available for just a measly $60,000 more.