Test Drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo is truly a four-door sports car
Weighing two tonnes, sporting 550 PS, and packing a whole bunch of electronic wonders, the new Panamera is truly a four-door sports car
What just happened? One second we're doing 60 km/h in traffic, a couple of blinks later, the whole bunch of vehicles are a distant speck in our rear-view mirrors and the needle is well into triple digits. Looking at the road, there's absolutely no way of telling how fast you're going. The 14-way adjustable, ventilated seats have kept us in harmony, akin to strolling on grass in a park at 1.9 km/h. Glance sideways, and you get clues as to how fast you're actually going. The Porsche Panamera Turbo is a seriously incredible car. It will devour miles and glide over all kinds of roads with ease. The standard three-chamber air suspension and plush, ventilated, perforated leather seats, front and rear, provide for cabin comfort par excellence. So far, as dynamics are concerned, there was never really anything wrong with the Panamera.
Porsche Panamera Turbo
The grille-less 911-inspired design continues, as do the big wheel-arches with equally big wheels. The roofline is new. The bulbous stretched look is gone, and a swooping new line comes in and it's a thing of beauty. It has dramatically changed the profile of the Panamera, giving it a sleeker, sportier, less bulky look, more in tune with the iconic 911 sports car. Another element that elevates the dynamism quotient on the Panamera Turbo is the active split rear wing. As the speed climbs over 100 km/h, a three-piece creation on the boot-lid rises and extends, forming a spoiler that provides additional downforce.
Inside, all is calm and serene. The plush leather interior, piano black panels, and abundance of digital displays tell you're in a modern grand tourer that values comfort and luxury equally for all four seats. However, while ergonomics for both front and rear passengers are absolutely brilliant, there has been a significant, and disturbing, departure from convention. Electronics are part of the safety net, the music system, the suspension and dampers, but basic controls? Most of the controls for the various car functions are available only via the massive touch display. For instance, controls for simply turning the centre air vents has you navigating through options on the touchscreen, which is not something you want to do in a car that goes from 60 to 80 km/h in less than a second.
Giving it its get up and go is an all-new twin-turbo V8, with an equally new eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) twin-clutch automatic transmission. It's sportier and turned out quick indeed, and efficient. It's also the first engine from Porsche to feature cylinder deactivation. Porsche says, "The deactivation and reactivation of the cylinders are controlled by VarioCam Plus with a two-stage sliding cam system. The valve gear of cylinders two, three, five and eight can be deactivated or reactivated as required. The intake and exhaust valves of these cylinders are completely shut down in four-cylinder operation. Cylinder deactivation is operational over an engine speed range from 950 to 3,500 rpm and up to a torque limit of 250 Nm." The claimed top speed of 306 km/h is achieved in sixth. That top speed doesn't seem unlikely one bit, considering the Panamera Turbo can rocket up to 200 km/h in less than 14 seconds from standstill.
Porsche claims a 0-100 km/h time of 3.6 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono pack. In real-world conditions we managed 4.54 seconds, with a near full tank and two occupants, with a bit of luggage, in Sport Plus mode. Whichever way you look at it, the Panamera Turbo is a deceptively quick machine. And, that holds true even in the bends. Rear-wheel steering is available as standard on the long-wheelbase Executive, but being given the miss on this options list didn't really make our experience any less exciting.
It's a proper everyday car. It's immensely comfortable, unbelievably quick, and even rather efficient. We worked out five km to the litre in the city, with a very reasonable nine on the highway. That's down to the smart engine management, slick new transmission, and optimised aerodynamics with a low drag coefficient. Cruise at a relaxed pace at around 3,000 rpm and you'll be coasting on four pots, completely oblivious to anyone inside. With the 90-litre tank and an overall six, that's a range of 540 km — with 75 per cent city driving. Besides, rear-seat passengers will travel in complete comfort. They have everything at their fingertips, too. The centre console offers a full touch display and a couple of buttons to provide controls for pretty much all of the functions available at the front, including the two-zone climate control, the Bose audio system, and the panoramic sunroof. It can be a family car, or a business saloon.
What really is a gripe is the price. The base price for the Porsche Panamera Turbo is R1.93 crore (ex-showroom). With the optional extras — Sport Chrono, 20-inch wheels with 315-sec tyres, Panoramic Sunroof, sport exhaust, seats with massage and ventilation — the price goes up to about R2.18 crore, again before tax. Stack up on options and it keeps heading north. However, if you want a GT for four that delivers sports-car shaming performance, we don't see anything challenging the second-generation Panamera Turbo. It's simply a ballistic missile with leather seats and climate control.
Porsche Panamera Turbo
Engine: 3,996 cc, V8, twin-turbo, direct-injection, petrol
Weight: 1,950 kg
Max Torque: 770 Nm @ 1,960-4,500 rpm
Max Power: 550 PS @ 5,750-6,000 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed, twin-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Price : Rs.1.93 crore (ex-showroom)
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