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Porsche Panamera: Test Drive Review

Date: 15 September 2009   |   Author:

Category: Luxury
P11D price: £77,269
Key rival: BMW 7-series

This has been another controversial introduction for the German sports car brand.

Porsche's Panamera is a coupe-cum-sporting saloon designed to fill the gap between the 911 sports car and the Cayenne large 4x4, and the styling is certainly something that has got people talking.

At launch only large-engined 4.8-litre options are available, 400PS in normally-aspirated form and 500PS turbocharged, though there will be a 3.0-litre 300PS version next year and a hybrid to follow in 2011.

So from launch, 45% of sales will be the eye-wateringly-priced £95,298 Turbo, with the same percentage plumping for the four-wheel-drive 4S version at a far more reasonable £77,269. There's also an entry two-wheel-drive S version at £72,266 which is the only one of the three not to come with Porsche's double-clutch PDK automatic gearbox as standard.

The Panamera is designed as a large sporting four-seater that provides an alternative to everything from coupes through luxury saloons and executive estates to performance saloon cars.

Though it wouldn't be hard, the car does look more imposing and less ugly than in the pictures Porsche released earlier this year, though there's still a lot of metal work to the rear in particular. The front is very much part of the Porsche family though, and the car as a whole looks a lot lower and wider than expected.

It's also a surprise to drive, even for a Porsche, proving to be a lot more nimble than expected, hiding its 1860kg weight much better than its rivals manage.

That divisive rear-end styling does though cause practical problems, as the narrow rear window hinders rear visibility, especially when the rear spoiler pops up to help high-speed stability. There's also no standard wash-wipe on the rear windscreen wiper to clear away the grime.

Open the boot and there's less room than premium German saloons, though it has rear seats that fold flat to allow larger loads through, increasing the luggage size to 1250 litres. The boot itself appears visually shallow, and the cheap-looking luggage cover has the appearance of an afterthought. There's plenty of room in all four seats though, certainly a load more than the executive BMW 5-series and the like classed as rivals.

A little trump card that helps the 4S to a reasonable, if still maximum BIK band, 260g/km and 25.4mpg is the first stop-start system connected to an automatic gearbox. Come to a halt with a foot on the brake and the car automatically cuts the engine, firing up again when it detects the driver starting to release the throttle. It works well, though doesn't kick in if too many functions such as aircon and audio need power.

The key to the Panamera's success is its looks. If buyers, more than half of which are expected to use company money, can reconcile themselves with the slightly ungainly and bulbous appearance, there's very little else than will turn them off. But there will be some that can't.

Porsche Panamera 4S
P11D price£77,269
Model price range£72,266-£95,298
Fuel consumption25.4mpg
CO2 (tax) 260g/km (35%)
BIK 20/40% per month£451/£901
Service interval20,000mls
Insurancegroup 20
Warranty2yrs/unltd mls
Boot space (min/max)445/1250 litres
Engine size/power4806cc/400PS
Top speed/0-62mph175mph/5.0secs
On sale September 2009
VerdictGreat to drive, reasonable emissions
for the power, but from some angles
the looks are very much an acquired
taste, if better in the metal than in pictures


Great to drive, reasonable emissions for the power, but from some angles the looks are very much an acquired taste, if better in the metal than in pictures