Reviews

2014 Porsche Panamera Introduction

Porsche Panamera offers luxury, space and performance, all in a dizzying array of model choices, configurations, and options. With its massive rear-seat space, Panamera delivers the performance of a sports car, but with luxurious room for four adults.

Porsche’s first plug-in hybrid joins the Panamera lineup for 2014. The 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is a new battery/gasoline edition that reaches past the previous Panamera S Hybrid with a more powerful electric motor and higher-performance battery. The E-Hybrid’s electric drive produces 95 horsepower, versus 47 hp from the prior Hybrid. The new lithium-ion battery is rated at 9.4 kWh, while the previous battery’s capacity was only 1.7 kWh.

Two new extended-wheelbase Panamera Executive models also are arriving for 2014. Wheelbase and overall length have been lengthened 5.9 inches, allowing even more rear-seat comfort. These big sedans come in Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive form, the former packing a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine.

Panamera GTS joined the lineup for 2013, fitting into a gap between the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. Panamera GTS uses a souped-up, 440-horsepower version of the 430-hp V8 found in the Panamera 4S.

That brings the Panamera lineup to 11 distinct models, if we count correctly, plus a dizzying array of options:

Porsche Panamera and all-wheel drive Panamera 4 are powered by a 310-hp 3.6-liter V6. Panamera S and all-wheel-drive Panamera 4S come with a naturally aspirated 420-hp 4.8-liter V8; Panamera GTS uses a slightly more powerful 440-hp version of that engine. Panamera Turbo and Turbo S are powered by a turbocharged 4.8-liter V8, issuing 520 hp or 570 hp, respectively. Panamera S E-Hybrid uses a 3.0-liter V6 paired with an electric motor; it can be charged at home or at a public facility. All come with Porsche’s 7-speed, dual-clutch PDK automated transmission.

Panamera’s exterior design is based on roominess and space efficiency, while attempting to maintain Porsche styling heritage. The look is a love-hate proposition, with little middle ground. We think it looks ungainly from the rear three-quarter view, but park a Panamera among its competition from Mercedes, BMW and Audi, and it’s the Porsche that stands out, the one that you want to get in and drive. In any case, those who can embrace the styling will be rewarded with a truly substantial, satisfying automobile.

Panamera in standard length is only slightly smaller than the BMW 7 Series, and it delivers the sporting performance of a world-class sports sedan with the comfortable ride and refinement of a luxo-cruiser. Those extremes required a lot of careful engineering. Porsche builds the body from lightweight materials, and puts the engine low and as far back as possible. The Panamera’s standard adjustable suspension can change the ride from soft but stable to racetrack-ready.

All Panamera models are fast-accelerating. The V6 model hits 60 mph from a standstill in as little as 5.6 seconds, while the V8-powered Panamera S models pull off 0-60 in 5.0 seconds. Panamera Turbo cuts that time to a sports-car bashing 3.6 seconds, with little if any turbo lag and a rush of power that pins you back in your seat. The new E-Hybrid promises 0-60 mph acceleration in an also-swift 5.2 seconds.,

Don’t think you’re giving up cabin space by choosing a Porsche. Headroom, legroom and hip room in a Panamera rival that of the prior-generation Mercedes S-Class sedan. A standard full-length center console divides Panamera into four distinct and comfortable seating positions. The feel from the driver’s seat is much like that in a Porsche 911, only slightly higher off the ground. All of the seats are supportive, without being too firm or too deeply bolstered.

The hatchback design makes the Panamera useful as a family vehicle. With the rear seats up, the rear cargo area is as roomy as the trunk in a mid-size sedan. With the seats down, the Panamera has more cargo room than a luxury wagon, with easy access to a fairly expansive load floor.

Porsche Panamera is, quite simply, one of the best cars in its class. The competition includes Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Aston Martin Rapide, and Maserati Quattroporte. The Porsche Panamera doesn’t come cheap, and options can add 50 percent to the model price. Yet on another level, given its impact and relative performance, the base Panamera V6 might be considered a deal.

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