Porsche Panamera review
The Porsche Panamera has four doors, four seats and an exceptional drive
Unveiled in 2009 the Porsche Panamera shocked the purists who saw it as a dilution of the brand. However, like the Cayenne it’s a necessary part of the business plan, and actually rather good. There’s a range of engines available including Hybrid petrol, diesel and turbocharged V8 models – the latter in particular offers startling performance. As a luxury limo that can also be enjoyed by the driver, the Porsche Panamera has few rivals, and while it doesn’t cosset as much as a Mercedes S-Class, it is a lot more interesting.
Our choice: Panamera Diesel
Believed by many to be an evolution of the Porsche 989 concept from 1988, the Porsche Panamera is held in the same regard as the opinion-splitting Cayenne in terms of its styling. It’s certainly a large vehicle, but it can’t match the class or imposing stance of the Mercedes S-Class or Aston Martin Rapide. Still, for those who love the look of the Porsche 911 but need more practicality, then the Panamera is a great substitute, with an unmistakable shape and design heritage. As with others in the Porsche range the Panamera has a vast array of personalisation options, and although standard kit can be a bit meagre, the quality of the cabin materials is top notch.
The Porsche Panamera is best enjoyed from the driver’s seat, where the high transmission tunnel, direct steering and sharp throttle response make it feel more like one of the firm’s sports cars than a luxury limousine. That feeling of involvement does mean rear passengers have to suffer slightly, as the tight body control and stiff suspension contributes to a firm ride, especially in cars with larger wheels. The PDK automatic gearboxes are smooth and quick shifting, and although it doesn’t necessarily suit the character of the Porsche Panamera, the manual gearbox has the same delightful weighting and precision to its shift as found in the rest of the Porsche range. By far the best balance of performance and economy is the diesel model, which also has the ability to travel 745 miles on a single tank of fuel.
One of the few manufacturers not to be tested by Euro NCAP, the Porsche Panamera nevertheless comes with eight airbags, Isofix child seat mounting points, Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM) and Xenon lights to aid visibility. To date there has only been one recall for the Panamera, which concerned a fault with a seatbelt mount which may become detached. And on the subject of reliability, the German brand has consistently done well in our annual Driver Power survey, currently being ranked 5th in both the manufacturer and dealer standings.
The two individual rear seats do limit the Panamera's practicality, but once installed in them they are incredibly comfortable and legroom is decent, if not class leading. Still, the hatchback style tailgate adds a dose of practicality and the boot can accommodate 445-litres of luggage. Fold the seats flat and this rises to 1,263 litres – and with many of its rivals being traditional saloons, this is one of the Porsche Panamera’s party tricks.
It’s all down to priorities here – if you’re after performance, then opting for the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is the right choice, but understandably economy is not this model’s strong point. However, even though it costs north of £100,000 the performance on offer is unbeatable, even by rivals like the Aston Martin Rapide or Mercedes S65 AMG. Instead of the Turbo S, the Panamera diesel is the one to go for if you want to try and keep costs low, as claimed economy is 43.5mpg. Better still it only emits 172g/km CO2, so road tax is a reasonable £190 annually. Remember though, that as a Porsche even the diesel will require around £500 to be spent on every service.