Price: R2 441 000 / 0-100 km/h: 3,44 sec / Power/Torque: 404 kW/770 N.m / Top speed: 306 km/h / CAR fuel index: 11,28 L/100 km / CO2: 164 g/km
In some significant ways, what you are looking at here is less of a car than its predecessor. It’s the second-generation Porsche Panamera and it is visually smaller, the cabin has far fewer dials and buttons, and it possesses a smallercapacity turbocharged engine. Has this downsizing strategy created a better vehicle? After all, in terms of its performance and dynamic handling, that predecessor was considered the benchmark in this rarified niche of four-door luxury performance sedans. Yet, this 2017 Porsche Panamera shares only three things with that original car: the Panamera name, the Porsche crest on the hood and the goal of being the fastest luxury sedan globally.
One area where it certainly wasn’t considered the benchmark was its styling. The previous Panamera was rear-heavy, with far too much sheet metal occupying the last third of the car and a silhouette that looked more suited to a shooting brake (which, ironically, has just been launched) than a sedan.
Thankfully, the Stuttgart design department has given the new car a more gracefully curved roofline that is 20 mm lower at the rear, as well as a shorter front overhang and a longer rear equivalent. The bonnet is also marginally lower and sharper than the blunt nose presented by its predecessor and, especially with the new taillamp cluster design, the Panamera – finally does have the appearance of a four-door 911. The overall aesthetic impression is of a successor that is sleeker and more agile.
The interior has been through a similar paring-down process, with the previous array of buttons that lined the centre console replaced by a smaller suite of touch-sensitive controls on a gloss-black surface that operates such essentials as ESC on/off, damper settings, front and rear window demisting and the seat warmers. There are also four beautifully bevelled roller dials gracing the climatecontrol panel.
The instrument binnacle now features a sizeable analogue rev counter flanked by two additional seven-inch digital screens; the left is the speedometer and the right can scroll through a series of displays, from engine data to a sat-nav map and the (optional at R40 030) night-vision camera.
At the centre of the dash between the driver and passenger is the latest Porsche Communication Management’s (PCM) 12,3-inch touch display that now houses the functionality those previous dash-mounted buttons used to operate. And then some.
Given the myriad settings and customisation options that can be applied to almost every aspect of the new Panamera, there are a host of levels and sub-menus within the PCM that, as the car’s owner, will require some time until you are completely familiar with them. That said, the menus are intuitively structured, and once you have configured everything to your liking, you are unlikely to have to delve too deeply again.
Needless to say, being a Porsche, the interior’s perceived build quality is of the highest order. Our test model was specced with the optional carbon-fibre trim inserts, adding to the cabin’s upmarket ambience, as well as immaculately stitched leather, scratch-resistent gloss plastics and alloy strip accents that cover many of the surfaces and occupant touch points.
Don’t, however, be fooled; all this high-end luxury won’t cause you to forget what this car is capable of. Scooching down into the low, superbly comfortable bucket seats, with the essential driver controls a thumb-touch away on the thick, leather-bound multifunction steering wheel, the Panamera feels every inch the performance vehicle.
And what performance! Under that long bonnet, replacing the previous 4,8-litre engine is a new 4,0-litre V8 with twin-scroll turbochargers mounted centrally within the Vee and therefore closer to the cylinders for quicker response. Smaller and lighter (by 9,5 kg) this engine may be, but it’s also more powerful, boasting outputs of 404 kW and 770 N.m of torque available from just 1 950 r/min.
Given the previous car’s 382 kW/700 N.m stats, the new engine’s power-to-litre ratio has jumped from 79 kW/L to 101 kW/L. This increase in power translates into brutal acceleration, with our test team twice recording a best 0-100 km/h time of 3,44 seconds … that is 0,16 seconds quicker than Porsche claims for the car. Our thunderous in-gear figures show how just how much grunt this Panamera has between 2 000 and 4 500 r/min. Coupled with the new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission that debuts in the Panamera range, this unit delivers times of 1,16 and 1,54 seconds for those crucial 100-120 km/h and 120-140 km/h highway-speed overtakes respectively.
Beyond the odd supercar, there is nothing on our roads you won’t be able to overtake. Stopping power – thanks to the optional (R153 440) ceramic brakes with their massive 420 mm ceramic plates and 10-piston calipers – is prodigious and the average time recorded for our series of 10 emergency braking tests from 100-0 km/h was 2,80 seconds, registering an “excellent” rating on our scale.
These figures are particularly impressive when you consider both the vehicles’s size and mass. Visually more svelte it may be, but at just over five metres in length and a smidge under two metres wide, this is still a big vehicle. It’s a relatively heavy beast, too, with a mass that – by our reckoning – is a mere two kilograms lighter than the car it replaces (Porsche lists the previous Turbo’s mass as 2 038 kg and we weighed this new one at 2 036 kg).
But, while the performance figures seriously impressed us, they were outshone by the new Panamera’s driving dynamics. The car is the first in the VW Group to use the new aluminium-and-steel MSB platform (it will underpin the next Bentley Continental GT and Audi A7) that is suspended on double wishbones at the front and a multilink arrangement at the rear. On the Turbo model, this is controlled by standard adaptive dampers and a revised air-suspension system that comprises Porsche’s Active Suspension Management.
There’s also an active suspension system (PDCC Sport), a torque-vectoring system to the rear wheels (PTV Plus), an active all-wheel-drive system (PTM), and finally an optional rear-axle steering system that was fitted to our test vehicle.
It’s something of a acronymic maelstrom to get your head around, but it’s all overseen by Porsche’s new 4D-Chassis Control system that integrates it for you, so attacking a mountain pass is as easy as a thumb turn of the alloy dial on the steering wheel from normal to sport+. The culmination of all the systems makes for optimal turn-in properties, maximum agility and stability. A spirited drive through the twists and turns is both an engaging and comfortable exercise. Thanks to the active suspension system and air dampers that now have three instead of two air chambers per strut and around 60% more air volume, the chassis feels both firm and supple.
Turn-in for low-speed corners also belies the Panamera’s lengthy wheelbase thanks to an all-wheel-drive system that can send up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels, plus rear-wheel steering that, at speeds below 50 km/h, swivel in the opposite direction to the fronts (up to 2,8 degrees).
Such is the Panamera’s performance and agility that it’s easy to forget that the car comes with an extra set of doors and two extra, comfortable bucket seats aft that offer leg- and headroom you’d find in a luxury sedan.
It also has a sizeable boot that provides 281 litres of luggage space that may be on the shallow side, but will accommodate a set of golf clubs. Drop the 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench and utility space extends to 816‑litres.
Granted, you may argue that a car like the Mercedes-AMG S63 provides a more comfortable ride, but if you prefer the emphasis of a luxury performance sedan to be on sportscar-like dynamics, then the Panamera Turbo has no peers.
This practicality, combined with improved performance and handling, not to mention the more appealing design aesthetics, con firms the Panamera Turbo as the nest luxury performance sedan we have tested.
Performance was a given but now looks more fluid, too / Ian McLaren
A four-door, super-luxurious supercar / Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Such speed and agility on a big luxury saloon beggars belief / Steve Smith
Clockwise from right Digitalisation of Porsche cockpits first seen in the 918 Spyder now comes to the Panamera; the entire side body and roof panels are made from aluminium; rear-seat entertainment includes a 32 GB internal memory; surprising amount of room in the rear.
The interior’s quality is of the highest order.
Beyond supercars, there’s nothing you won’t overtake.
PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO 971
Price R2 441 000
cyl/capac (cm3) V8/3 996
power (kW/r/min) 404/5 750-6 000
torque (N.m/r/min) 770/1 960-4 500
0-100 km/h (sec) 3,44
max speed (km/h) 306
fuel index (L/100 km) 11,28
luggage capac (L) 281/816
serv/maint plan M3/90 000 km
Designed from the start to be the quickest four-door sedan round, the fact that Porsche has been able to imbue it with even higher levels of comfort, space and luxury mean it easily keeps its crown.
MERCEDES-AMG S63 7G-TRONIC W222
price R2 605 338
cyl/capac (cm3) V8/5 461
power (kW/r/min) 430 kW/5 500
torque (N.m/r/min) 900/2 250-3 750
0-100 km/h (sec) 4,20 est
max speed (km/h) 250
fuel index (L/100 km) 12,10
luggage capac (L) 384
serv/maint plan M6/100 000 km
Approaches the niche from the angle of luxury, a peerless attribute in the S-Class. Will the soon to- be-launched facelifted version move closer to the Panamera in terms of dynamics?
BMW M760Li xDRIVE STEPTRONIC G12
price R2 679 836
cyl/capac (cm3) V12/6 592
power (kW/r/min) 448/5 500-6 500
torque (N.m/r/min) 800/1 500-5 000
0-100 km/h (sec) 3,70 est
max speed (km/h) 250
fuel index (L/100 km) 15,40
luggage capac (L) n/a
serv/maint plan M5/100 000 km
Appears to be a genuine contender given the inherent driving dynamics possessed by BMW’s big 7 Series. Certainly has the grunt and grip, but will the extra weight of that V12 and AWD system detract?
USED OPTION 2yrs ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE S
You can pick up a nearly new example of this bespoke Brit for around R2,2 million. Offers far more of a sense of occasion and rarity value than the Germans. clockwise from top The new 404 kW engine means the Panamera Turbo has a power-to-weight ratio of 198 W/kg; rear-bench backrests fold in a 40:20:40-split; clever (but ungainly looking) rear wing extends after it emerges from its housing below the boot lid. opposite Panamera now echoes 911’s iconic “ yline” roof silhouette.
Airbags: front/side/curtain/knee Air-con: dual-zone climate Audio system: radio/MP3/aux-in/USB/Bluetooth Cruise control: std Sat-nav: standard Park assist: std Windows: all-electric Trip computer: std Driver seat adjust: electric incl. height Folding rear seat: 40:20:40 split Upholstery: leather Iso x anchorages: outer rear Steering adjust: electric rake + reach Steering audio controls: std Tyre sensors: std Wipers auto-on: std Headlamps auto-on: std
Cylinders V8, longitudinal
Fuel supply electronic direct fuel injection, turbocharged, intercooled, petrol
Bore/stroke 86,0/86,0 mm
Cubic capacity 3 996 cm3
Compression ratio 10,1 to 1
Valvegear d-o-h-c, four valves per cylinder
Max power ISO (kW) 404
Power peak/Red line (r/min) 5 750-6 000/6 900
Max torque (N.m) 770
Torque peak (r/min) 1 960-4 500
Type eight-speed dual-clutch
1st gear /2nd gear 5,97/3,24 to 1
3rd gear/4th gear 2,08/1,42 to 1
5th gear/6th gear 1,05/0,84 to 1
7th gear/Top gear 0,68/0,53 to 1
Reverse gear 5,22 to 1
Final drive 3,15 to 1
Drive wheels all
Driver aids ESC (Electronic Stability Control), hill start
Front 420 mm ventilated discs
Rear 390 mm ventilated discs
Hydraulics ABS with EBD and EBA
WHEELS AND TYRES
Tyre make Michelin Pilot Sport 4
Tyre size) 275/40 R20 (f); 315/35 R20 (r)
Spare – type and location none, mobility kit
Type rack and pinion, electric power assist
Lock to lock 2,5 turns
Turning circle diameter 11,9 m
Front independent, double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear independent multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
WARRANTY & SERVICE INTERVALS
3-year/100 000 km warranty
3-year/100 000 km maintenance plan
Services according to onboard computer
PARTS PRICES (incl. VAT)*
Oil filter R341,40
Air filter R735,40
Left headlamp R33911,40
Left rear tyre R6982,50
Brake pads (front set) R11185,80
Camchain (incl. tensioner) R5249,40
Total parts basket R68‑854,90
*Prices as recommended by manufacturer
MAXIMUM SPEED (km/h)
Manufacturer’s figure 306
Speedo calibration 60 80 100 120
True speed 58 78 98 118
Odometer error 0,05% under
0-60 0-80 0-100 0-120 0-140
1,69 2,47 3,44 4,62 6,02
OVERTAKING ACCELERATION (seconds)
Manufacturer’s figure 9,40 L/100 km
CAR fuel index 11,28 L/100 km
Fuel route 12,90 L/100 km
Estimated tank range 798 km
Taxable CO2 rating 214 g/km
10 stops from 100 km/h measured in seconds.
Best/worst stop 2,58/2,98
Average of 10 stops/rating 2,80/excellent
Average stopping distance 36,14 m
Power/mass (W/kg) 198
Power/litre (kW/litre) 101
Torque/litre (N.m/litre) 193
Engine speed (at true 120 km/h in top gear (r/min)) 1 503
Cabin noise level at Idle (dBA) 49
Altitude at sea level
Ambient temp/barometric press 26 °C/1 014 hPa
Test car’s odometer 5 280 km