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First Drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo

Thursday 25 August 2016

First Drive: Porsche Panamera Turbo

The Panamera has been with us for a while now, and this second-generation Turbo version of Porsche’s super-saloon is an almost completely new proposition. Not only has the styling been tweaked, but there’s more power at the disposal of your right foot, and there’s even more on-board technology.

These tweaks have caused the new Panamera to grow slightly, though. It’s 34mm longer than its predecessor, as well as 6mm wider and 5mm taller.

Under the skin, you’ll find a new 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8, which may be smaller than the old 4.8-litre V8 it replaces, but it’s 30bhp more powerful and has an extra 70Nm of torque. That means it sends 543bhp and 770Nm to all four wheels via an eight-speed, twin-clutch automatic transmission.

Looks & Image

Although it underwent its fair share of cosmetic surgery over the years, the old Panamera was often lambasted for its looks. This new model is far prettier, but it still isn’t all that easy on the eye.

A new strip of LED lights across the tail bring the flagship saloon into step with its sportier two-seat brethren, while this Turbo variant comes with trapezoidal quad exhaust tips. The Turbo has a developed version of the standard car’s deployable rear wing, too, which splits as it deploys to provide extra downforce and stability, as well as a dramatic look.

There are more changes inside, where there’s been a comprehensive decluttering that has seen the majority of the traditional switchgear removed. In its place is a black panel surface that comes hides a host of touch-sensitive buttons.

Any other buttons removed during the tidy-up have been relocated to the new 12.3-inch touchscreen that dominates the cabin. It’s the interface for everything from the air conditioning to the smartphone integration, via more mundane things like the satellite navigation and multimedia system.

Space & Practicality

Considering the Panamera’s new and enlarged dimensions, it’s no surprise to find that it’s a relatively spacious machine.

Though the roofline above the rear seats is 20mm lower than before, there’s actually slightly more space for passengers than previously.

The boot, too, is more capacious, with the 495 litres of space on offer representing a 50-litre improvement over the outgoing model. Fold the back seats down and you’ll be looking at more than 1,300 litres back there.

Behind the Wheel

Though there’s plenty of luxury and technology on show, the Panamera is undoubtedly a driver-focused car. When the going gets twisty, the all-wheel-drive system and the optional rear-wheel steering of our test car make it feel like it’s cornering on rails. The steering, too, is nigh-on perfect, with a pleasant weight to it.

For all the handling excellence, though, the big V8 up front dominates proceedings.

If you want to feel the full effect of the eight 500cc cylinders’ might, just jab the optional Sport Response button, which will draw on every last drop of the 543bhp available, as well as sharpening the throttle response and increasing the ferocity of the gearchanges. The launch control system, though, will still propel you from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds before running out of acceleration at 190mph.

It seems outrageous that a car this big can go quite that quickly, but it’s an addictive sensation. You slam your right foot deep into the firewall, wait a moment as the turbo spools up, then you’re almost a passenger as the Panamera eats the road at a licence-endangering rate of knots.

When the clear roads give way to urban sprawl, however, you’ll find the Panamera Turbo a relatively relaxing companion. It’s comfortable, refined, and actually quite easy to drive. The only drawback is a little wind noise at Autobahn cruising speeds.

Value for Money

At £113,075, the Panamera Turbo is by no means cheap, but compared to the Maserati Quattroporte GTS and the Mercedes-AMG S 63, which cost about £116,000 and £128,000 respectively, it almost looks good value.

You get plenty of goodies thrown in, too. For instance, full leather upholstery is standard, as is the 12.3-inch touchscreen and its associated satellite navigation system. Don’t go too mad with Porsche’s never-ending options list, though, because it isn’t difficult to add £30,000 to the car’s asking price with a couple of choice goodies.

Who would buy one ?

If you’re in the market for a large, luxurious saloon capable of providing quiet and comfortable transport, as well as setting your hair on fire when the mood takes you, then the Panamera will be your ideal companion.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Porsche Panamera Turbo

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 543bhp and 770Nm of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch (PDK) automatic

Performance: Top speed 190mph, 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds (3.6 with optional Sport Chrono pack)

Economy: 30mpg combined

Emissions: 214g/km CO2

Price: £113,075

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