2010 Porsche Panamera | road test

Posted on Apr 15, 2010 by
The Panamera continues the Porsche family look derived from the 911

The Panamera continues the family look derived from the 911

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Comfortable in the back
  • Brilliant to drive
  • Superbly made

AGAINST

  • Looks aren’t to everyone’s taste
  • Slightly enclosed feeling in the back
  • Small boot

SUMMARY

The luxury sporting sedan market seems to be a growing one, and the Panamera is Porsche’s offering to take on the likes of the Aston Martin Rapide. Porsche’s approach has been to take the 911, the car that made it the company it is today, and build a sedan around the same ethos. It works brilliantly. As well as a very sporty and traditional Porsche-like driving experience, the Panamera also offers luxury and comfort with plenty of space in the back. Not only is this a Porsche to drive, it’s a Porsche to be driven in.

The Panamera has a hatch-like tailgate rather than a standard sedan boot

The Panamera has a hatch-like tailgate rather than a standard sedan boot

PERFORMANCE

Make no mistake, this is a proper Porsche. Even the base level Panamera is a very powerful car. The S and the 4S models are both quick and the top-of-the-range Turbo that we tried has some serious acceleration and a very high top speed thanks to its 4.8-litre, bi-turbo V8 engine.

It puts huge amount of power – 500bhp – through the all four wheels but even with the right foot planted to the floor it never makes the car feel like a handful. While something like a Lamborghini will punch you violently in the back under full acceleration, the Panamera prefers to push you with insistence towards the horizon. It’s far from an assault on the senses; more a rapid accumulation of velocity.

The seven-speed PDK gearbox, a dual clutch affair, is excellent with very quick and fantastically smooth changes. However, the unusual paddle/button arrangement on the steering wheel annoys us. Tradition dictates that paddle shifts consist of a right paddle for upshifts and a left paddle to change down. Instead, Porsches of late have insisted that you push forward to change up and pull back to change down on either paddle. You’ll get used to it if you own the car but if you have experience of the ‘normal’ paddle arrangements you’ll find it very annoying when you inadvertently shift down instead of up.

Despite its size, the Panamera feels like a proper Porsche sports car

Despite its size, the Panamera feels like a proper Porsche sports car

HANDLING AND RIDE

The Panamera feels like a sports car to drive. The dynamics are quite determinedly sports car. The steering is weighty and quick and the car is sharp in its response to the driver. The cars we drove features a Sport Plus mode that sharpened up throttle and responses even further.

The standard air suspension setting is firm, but not crashy. Sport or Sport Plus modes are also available, as well as a comfort setting. The former two lower the ride height and stiffen the dampers, making the Panamera a very sporty drive indeed. You can quite happily thrash it and it handles superbly despite its size. There’s lots of grip around corners and the car always feels stable, even at higher speeds than you’ll ever do on public roads.

COMFORT

The driving position in the Panamera is very much like sitting in a large 911. You sit low on the floor and look out over the familiar-looking bonnet and raised headlights. The steering wheel is quite chunky and took us a while to get used to but we liked. The instrument cluster is made up of five little sections, dominated by a central rev counter flanked by a speedometer and a very nice mini colour screen that complements the main screen at the top of the centre console and displays navigation, audio and car set up information. The driver’s area is very button-heavy but it’s all easy to navigate around once you’ve spent a few minutes familiarising yourself with them.

There's plenty of room in the back of the Panamera

There's plenty of room in the back of the Panamera

The high centre console gives an enclosed, sports car feel but despite the focus on performance, the Panamera works very well as a sedan. There’s a level of luxury that will satisfy those for whom the main purpose of the car is cruising rather than attacking bends. Everything feels immensely well made, with fine quality materials – including lots of leather and suede – screwed together by people that really know what they’re doing. It’s also very quiet inside, with first rate insulation from the outside world and road noise.

If we have any complaints about the rear of the car, it’s that the back windows are tiny, which makes it feel ever so slightly enclosed, even though there is plenty of space. If you have kids, they’ll struggle to see out, although with the number of buttons available for them to push near to hand, you may want to think twice about letting them in there in the first place.

The cockpit has a 911-like feel to it

The cockpit has a 911-like feel to it

PRACTICALITY

There’s plenty of room for two people in the back of the Panamera with lots of head and leg room. The front of the car has storage pockets in the door and a document net for the front seat passenger, as well as a cup holder in the centre console and and storage space under the arm rest. There are also door pockets in the back doors and more storage space under the rear armrest.

Rather than a traditional sedan boot, the Panamera has a hatchback-style tailgate, which isn’t as wide as the size of the car might suggest. The rear suspension mountings jut into the boot space quite a lot and the aperture is rather high. A lot of under-floor space is taken up with spares and while the rear seats fold down don’t expect huge amounts of storage space. Getting a golf bag in here would be a struggle.

FEATURES

There is plenty of kit included in the Panamera, from adaptive cruise control and iPod connectivity to rear view cameras, cooled seats and triple-zone air conditioning. The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system (standard on the Turbo model) includes satellite navigation, voice controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

The standard Bose sound system is fantastic, with 16 speakers that demand you to run through your musical back catalogue.

Those in the back have their own controls for air conditioning and their own heated seats should it get too chilly. It’s a very luxurious car and one that we’d be more than happy to be driven around in.

There's plenty of room in the back of the Panamera

There's plenty of room in the back of the Panamera

SAFETY

The Panamera Turbo comes with an advanced electronic stability control package (Porsche Stability Management) that has been specifically tuned to allow vigorous driving while still correcting mistakes or situations that could result in a crash. In Sport Plus mode, the system switches off unless the front wheel ABS is activated, in which case it immediately reacts to the situation. Functions within PSM include ABS, traction control, brake assist and a trailer stabilising system.

An active bonnet lid helps protect pedestrians by raising the lid away from the engine in the event of a crash. Eight airbags are included as standard, including knee, side and curtain bags. ISOFIX child seat fastenings are included in the rear of the car as standard, and are available as an option on the front passenger seat.

At the time of writing, no crash test data was available on the Panamera.

 

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo

2010 Turbo

COSTS

The Panamera range starts with the S at 439,100AED, while the Panamera Turbo we tested is a lot more expensive, starting from 621,600AED. However, it’s a lot cheaper and more powerful than the Aston Martin Rapide, which is more than 900,000AED.

The Panamera Turbo has an official combined fuel economy of 12.2l/100km, which should give it a range of around 655km from its 100-litre fuel tank. Drive it like the engine demands, however, and you’ll get a lot less than that.

Porsche offers  an impressive servicing schedule on the Panamera. A minor check is due at 15,000kms but the first major check isn’t until 60,000kms or four years, whichever is sooner. The cost at the time of writing was substantial; around 7,000AED to 9,500AED, including additional maintenance.

The warranty on the Panamera is two years with unlimited, although customers can purchase a longer warranty up to 10 years.

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo

Engine: 4.8-litre bi-turbo V8
Max power (bhp/rpm): 500/6,000
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 700/2,250-4,500 (770 with optional Sports Chrono Package)
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch (PDK) automatic
Driven wheels: All wheel drive
Kerb weight: 1,970
Price (AED): 621,600 (Panamera range starts at 439,100)

2 Responses to 2010 Porsche Panamera | road test

  1. Phill Tromans Reply

    April 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I think it’s fairly clear, if you read the article. It’s very comfortable in the back, with nice seats, good use of materials and plenty of space, but the small rear windows make it seem a little enclosed.

  2. Car Manic Reply

    April 19, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Either its nice in the back or its not! Why the mixed comments about it in both FOR and AGAINST!

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