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First Drive: Porsche Panamera S manual. Image by Kyle Fortune.

First Drive: Porsche Panamera S manual
Manual transmission adds more enjoyment to Porsche's Panamera S. Shame nobody will buy it then.

   



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| First Drive | East Sussex, England | Porsche Panamera S manual |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

It's not that we're strict traditionalists here; indeed we welcome progress. But give us a stick and a clutch over an auto all day long. Porsche did exactly that with a Panamera S, and proved our point. And some.

Key Facts

Pricing: 77,453
Engine: 4.8-litre, V8, petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A7 Sportback, Maserati Quattroporte
CO2 emissions: 293g/km
Combined economy: 22.6mpg
Top speed: 177mph
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Power: 400bhp
Torque: 295lb.ft

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Okay, so it's a divisive one this, but in white with optional 20-inch 911 Turbo II wheels I'm sticking my neck out and saying I like the Porsche Panamera. A good few of you seem to concur too, as little we've driven recently has turned heads quite so convincingly.

The Panamera signalled a sea change in Porsche interiors. Gone are the slightly iffy plastics of old, with the Panamera's materials feeling like they belong in a car costing north of 70,000. It's all very neatly designed, too, with everything sensibly positioned and clear in its operation. It's comfortable as well, even in the back, though there's not much of a boot if your passengers want to bring luggage.

Driving it: 5 5 5 5 5

That the Panamera S drives well is no surprise. We've tested it before, and it's always impressed. What is remarkable is how different the driving experience is with the removal of the automatic PDK transmission. The interaction and involvement are on a different level than a finger-flicking, paddle-shifted drive. The six-speed manual changes gears with an oily, quick precision that Porsche excels at, the mechanical action as the stick springs though the gate making every gearchange a pleasure.

That gearshift is more than ably backed up by the free-revving response of the 4.8-litre V8 engine and the smooth operation of the clutch. Press the button for the louder, rousing bark of the Sports exhaust (a 1,772 necessity) and heel-and-toe downshifts are not just a pleasure at your feet and hands, but a rev-matching, ear tickling delight.

It's the interaction behind the wheel that so increases the intensity of the driving experience. It's you, rather than the electronics blipping the accelerator, while it's possible to measure out the V8's ample power with the clutch. It's less abrupt, more interesting and rewarding. As a result the six-speeder utterly transforms the driving experience. The steering remains as direct and quick as ever, with levels of feel on offer that rivals don't get close to, while the PASM suspension balances fine control with surprising comfort.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

Your 77,453 buys you the best driving Panamera we've experienced - which makes it pretty much the best super saloon around. The money you've saved on the auto can be better spent on that Sports exhaust, while it's worth splashing out a couple of grand on those tasty 20-inch 911 Turbo II wheels too. Other than that it's got everything you could possibly want already - with leather, climate control and satnav included in the standard equipment.

Worth Noting

Underlining the Panamera's more usual automatic form is the electronic parking brake. Push to hold the car, pull to release - it's pretty hopeless in traffic. There's a hill-hold function though, which means mercifully you don't need to use the parking brake except for parking.

Summary

We like a decent manual transmission here and the Porsche Panamera demonstrates exactly why. It enhances the driving experience significantly, giving back control to the driver. In a car that drives as well as the Panamera S that's a very good thing. We'd have one, though we'd have to keep it forever, as nobody would buy it from us afterwards. It's time to remove those auto-only blinkers in this marketplace to reclaim and enjoy the simplicity and interaction a good manual gearbox can bring. Residuals be damned.


Kyle Fortune - 21 Apr 2011



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2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera S. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 






 

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