I didn’t plan on writing this piece, which is why I didn’t take any photos to accompany it. Unfortunately, my desire to share my opinion about the 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo got the better of me, so here I am on a Monday morning crafting a story about a car I didn’t even drive.
My only exposure to Porsche this last five years has been through friends, one in particular, and through him, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the Cayman S, Cayman GT4, GT3 (all on track and public roads) and most recently the Porsche Panamera Turbo. I also went for a squirt in a 911 Turbo S last year in California, so I feel like I’ve got a decent scope on the Porsche range. However, Porsche is a brand I’ve never officially dealt with through TVG, which is a shame because I’m on the verge of obsession. An obsession that compelled me to write this.
I’ll be the first to admit; the Panamera has never excited me like other Porsche models. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But after spending three days in the Panamera Turbo, I’ve completely changed my opinion about it. I’m going to throw it out there, but the Panamera Turbo might just be the most impressive four-door car in the world.
Let’s get the appearance topic out of the way because it’s entirely subjective. You’re either on the fence about it, erring on the side of “yeah I can learn to love it”, or you hate it. Personally, I think Porsche have done an excellent job of incorporating the iconic 911 shape into the 2017 model, especially from the rear doors back. Up front, it’s a still a tad flat, but it’s a vast improvement over the previous models. What’s so fascinating about the appearance of the Panamera, and specifically the Panamera Turbo is, once you’ve been in it, it just doesn’t matter what it looks like – it’s that good. I’ve read a handful of reviews saying it’s expensive and doesn’t look great but what it brings to the table regarding all round usability, practicality and performance makes the 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo the ultimate jack of all trades.
It is expensive, somewhere in the vicinity of $450k for the model I spent the weekend in. That’s a huge chunk of change considering the Audi RS7 Performance, with 41kW more power sits around $280k. But let’s not forget that this is a Porsche, not a Mercedes or a BMW, so it’s probably more suitable to peg it up against the Aston Martin Rapide which will set you back roughly $420k. I’d hazard a guess that the Aston may do the placid Grand Tourer thing slightly better than the Panamera Turbo, but I’d confidently say there’s no way it would touch the Porsche in precision, all round driveability or tech.
Which brings me back to aesthetics. Sure it’s important to appreciate the way your car looks but once you’re in it and experiencing it; its appearance is the last thing on your mind. Climbing into the Panamera Turbo on Friday evening I was blown away. The four-seater is just sensational inside the cabin; the seats are superb, and the dash, centre console and gear shifter look like a modern Bauhaus designer took the Tron theme to a more sophisticated dimension.
The huge new LCD screen controls anything from the excellent entertainment system to advanced safety features, suspension height and exhaust settings. Rear passengers get independent seat warmers and their own console with touchscreen that you can use to control the direction of the louvres of climate control vent – none of this manual adjustment crap! Just drag your finger across the screen and watch the vent follow. With a tall driver, leg room isn’t outrageous, but it’s still a lovely place to spend a few hours.
On the highway, it’s a dream. Some might argue the ride is a little firm for a Grand Tourer, even in the most relaxed suspension but I think that’s to be expected from a Porsche, and once you’ve felt it through corners, at pace, you wouldn’t dare fault it. The adaptive cruise control is brilliant, applying the brakes swiftly if needed and getting the car back to the desired speed with seamless downshifts and effortless power. Porsche’s Lane Departure Assist is also unbelievable. The car uses cameras to detect the white lines on the road and keep you in your lane. You can literally take your hands off the wheel, and the car will drive itself, handling big sweeping turns and recognising and spacing you accordingly from vehicles in other lanes. It’s honestly some David Blaine shit.
When you get off the highway, select Sports Plus mode, dial in your favourite performance settings and give the Panamera Turbo a squeeze, you won’t believe what it’s capable of. How a two-tonne four-seater can perform the way it does is simply mind boggling. Activate the launch control and listen to the limiter pulse, before getting rocketed to 100km so quickly you can feel your abs tense. Porsche claim a 0-100 dash of 3.6 seconds from the twin-turbo V8 unit, I reckon it feels faster. From 80-110 and above, it hunts, a touch of the paddles controlling the all new eight-speed PDK dual clutch gearbox and the Panamera Turbo will deploy its transformer style rear wing and leave anything for dead, highway patrol included. Tip it into tight or sweeping corners, and it feels as focused as any sports car I’ve been in.
Our car was also fitted with optional rear wheel steering which has the virtual effect of shortening the five-metre wheelbase. Parking is easier, the turning circle is reduced, agility and stability are increased, and high-speed manoeuvres are a walk in the park. We even had a run-in with the local law enforcement after tucking the Panamera Turbo into two roundabouts in rapid and unrelenting succession.
The conversation was short and sweet.
“Apologies sir, we may have gotten a little carried away there.”
“It’s alright mate; I probably would have to.”
What a legend.
I doubt anyone has driven that section of road with the same poise and proficiency as my mate did on Saturday. Not for a moment was I out of my comfort zone over the weekend, not with the car, or with my friend driving it. Perhaps I got a unique taste of the Panamera Turbo – there’s nothing quite like pairing a truly capable car with a truly capable driver.
Every time I stepped out of the Porsche Panamera Turbo I loved it a little bit more. To consider that you can buy a four-seat Grand Tourer, fill it with mates, golf clubs and suitcases, and attack a corner with as much vigour as you would a Cayman GT4 is astounding. Would I track I Rapide, not a chance. Would I track a Panamera Turbo, 100%. It wouldn’t be as rewarding as the Cayman GT4 I’ve just referenced, but it would still hold up to anything at the hands of the right driver. This car can do it all, cruise in unparalleled luxury or compete in off camber corners.
It’s quite a wonderful anomaly.
For more information on the Porsche Panamera Turbo head to the Porsche website.