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Week at the wheel: Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.

Week at the wheel: Porsche Panamera Turbo
Epic, but not perfect, the Porsche Panamera Turbo is trumped by versions lower on the food chain.

   



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| Week at the Wheel | Porsche Panamera Turbo |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

In most ways the Porsche Panamera Turbo is a phenomenon. It polarises opinion, it will always generate a reaction of some sort and there's nothing quite like it. It's furiously rapid, while being spacious and comfortable enough to be genuinely considered to be a luxury car. Our issue is one of expectation, though; we expected more given how impressed we were with the Panamera S.

Anodyne is probably the wrong word to use, but from a 500bhp super-saloon we want a hint more craziness. Our advice: buy an S with the Sport Chrono Pack Plus.

Inside & Out: 5 5 5 5 5

Yes, yes, we know that almost everyone thinks that the Porsche Panamera is ugly. But it isn't, ok. It was designed using a full size Play-Doh model of a 911 and a tug of war team at either side, obviously, but we challenge anyone to find a more imposing saloon. More beautiful, easy, but more road presence - that's different.

And for a car so low and sleek (though admittedly bulbous in places) it's awfully roomy, comfortably seating four proper adults. Its boot isn't huge, granted, but the tailgate is, and it's big enough to accommodate the needs of most families. Ergonomically the Panamera is spot on too. 'Too many buttons' has been the cry, but it actually takes about five minutes to work them all out, so stop crying about it.

Ride & Handling: 4 4 4 4 4

Comparing the Porsche Panamera to the 911 leads to disappointment, which is why it's a bad idea (they're completely different sorts of car anyway, so we've never understood the logic). When we drove the rear-wheel drive Panamera S we lavished praise upon it for its driver involvement and sharpness, especially given its size and weight. Sadly, though, this Turbo variant feels big and heavy, despite its sharp steering and colossus engine.

That's much to do with specification, though. Our S was equipped with Sport Chrono Package Plus, which gives the car a Sport Plus mode, sharpening up the throttle, steering responses, and gear shift points, to an extent that really makes a dynamic difference. Fizzing the V8 to the redline in that mode was compelling. In the Turbo, however, without that mode a44nd with the torque-rich low-end delivery of this engine, the driving experience seems detached. The amount of give in the springs makes it a car that feels more luxurious than sporty, which is against expectation and therefore slightly unfulfilling.

Engine & Transmission: 4 4 4 4 4

The 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine is an absolute powerhouse, make no mistake, but the issue we have here is that it seems a little too dampened. For a two-tonne car to hit 62mph in 4.2 seconds - and feel calm doing so - is an engineering masterstroke in itself, but it's not what you expect. Fireworks are what you want, but instead comes this smooth power delivery that belies the car's turn of pace. You can only tell it's going so quick because the world as seen through the side windows goes a bit blurry just after you've mashed the throttle.

We have a couple of issues with the seven-speed PDK transmission, too. It's very quick to change, but it pulls away in second a lot of the time and the initial pickup seems to be delayed - and slightly jerky. For a car that's inherently relaxing in character (which we'll get to), it's an irritation.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Here's the thing. Our test car came in at a whopping 109,000 including about 11,000 of options. That's a lot in anyone's cheque book, particularly when the V8 S is around 20,000 cheaper.

However, it does feel lavishly equipped (you'd expect that) and compared to cars you might feasibly consider next to it, it's a positive bargain. The Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG is 160,000; the Aston Martin Rapide is 150,000; the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is 130,000. See, cheap as chips. And we genuinely believe (based on road user reaction) that the Panamera is the equal of each in terms of prestige and presence.

During our week we suffered economy in the high teens, though its official rating is a relatively respectable 23.2mpg.


Mark Nichol - 12 Sep 2010



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2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.



2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 

2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Image by Porsche.
 






 

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