Porsche Panamera Turbo, the German marque’s most luxurious model, has been given a new look, new interior and new engine options in a bid to rev up sales. The result is sleeker, yet more spacious, says Tiff Needell
For the best part of 40 years it seemed there was really only one Porsche, the rear-engined 911 sportscar that gradually evolved over several generations. Yes, there were the front-engined 944 and 928 models that tried to modernise the brand during the 1980s, but the 911 survived through it all.
Meanwhile, the company’s relationship with Volkswagen was growing ever closer and it was a shock to all when, in 2002, it borrowed the VW Touareg’s chassis and launched its very own SUV, the Cayenne – which is now its best-selling model. The next step was to move into the luxurious limousine market.
Porsche had often used Carrera, the Spanish word for race, as a model name, so they took a cue from the other half of the famous transamerica motor race and in 2009 the Porsche Panamera Turbo was launched.
While the sight of the Cayenne may have been a bit of a culture shock to Porsche aficionados the Panamera was even more so.
It looked huge by Porsche standards and, as a four-door, four-seat limo it was – and its styling did little to hide it. While very impressive under its skin, it was definitely a slow burner when it came to looks.
Now there’s a new Porsche Panamera Turbo with a new look, new interior and new engines. An all-new car that Porsche hopes will transform the slightly reluctant sales figures for its most luxurious model.
It sits on a new platform that will be shared by future generations of another VW friend – the Bentley Continental GT – and there is no doubt it’s a much better-looking car.
Deceptively, although it’s bigger than the outgoing model, it looks smaller. The front end has been slightly lowered, as has the height above the rear of the passenger compartment, giving the whole car a more streamlined look, while the aluminium panels that form the bodywork share more styling cues with the latest 911.
The new roofline doesn’t prevent this being a proper four-seater with plenty of headroom for the two individual seats in the back – even for those a few inches over six feet. The interior has had an even greater overhaul than the outside.
Most of the switchgear has been replaced by touch-sensitive controls, either on the central console or the 12.5in main screen, while there are two smaller screens providing a wide range of information within the instrument binnacle, flanking the traditional centre-mounted analogue rev counter.
There are five model options for starters with more bound to come. Top of the range is the 550hp V8 Turbo, then there’s a 440hp V6 4S, a V8 diesel 4S, the supercharged 4 E-hybrid – all with four-wheel drive – and the entry-level Panamera with a 330hp petrol V6 and a tempting price tag of just £66,386.
While it’s easy to see the improvements in the styling and the interior, plenty has gone on under the skin as well, with the standard air suspension now developed with a larger chamber that allows it to not only offer better ride comfort but also more high-speed stability.
Add to that Porsche’s advance PASM suspension system constantly working to keep you on the straight and narrow and you have as good a luxury limousine as you’ll find anywhere on the market – just don’t expect the raw fun of a 911.
Porsche Panamera Turbo slide show (click to expand)
To see it in action click here