Porsche Panamera Turbo S

Supersaloon scores on luxury as well as pace

If you want a prestigious express that can carry four adults in comfort, yet show a high-performance coupé a clean pair of heels, the Porsche Panamera’s a compelling proposition – especially in flagship Turbo S form. Its twin-turbo V8 produces more power and torque than the new Bentley’s, and the car has an extra pair of doors, giving easy access to the generous back seats.

Those extra doors do the styling no favours, however. The Porsche measures 16cm longer than the Bentley and looks great from the front, but its humped-back shape and stretched body won’t attract as many admiring glances as the sharply styled Bentley. Neither are we fans of the four individual LED lights in each headlamp, which act as daytime running lights. They’re a bit too showy.

The cabin is more restrained, and here the Panamera covers the basics brilliantly. There’s loads of space – including limousine-like legroom in the back – and the driving position is excellent. Quality is top notch, but the central console that runs the length of the interior is covered in an initially bewildering array of buttons.

Once you get used to it, the layout is less confusing, and the touchscreen control system in the centre of the dash is child’s play. A decent boot, wide-opening tailgate and flat-folding rear seats give the Porsche the advantage on versatility, too, but overall, the Turbo S’s cabin is no match for the upper-crust GT’s.

The engine and gearbox combine to maximise the Panamera’s performance potential. Use the simple launch control function, and it’s easy to rocket off the line. The Turbo S dismissed the 0-60mph sprint in just 3.6 seconds – which is four-tenths quicker than the GT V8. Its fast-acting PDK transmission serves up rapid-fire shifts, but the system’s longer ratios blunt in-gear pace at higher speeds. The Bentley was faster in all but one of our tests, and the Porsche’s engine doesn’t sound as good – it lacks the deep-throated V8 rumble of the Continental. It feels efficient and clinical rather than engaging and enjoyable.

In reality there’s little between these two cars against the clock, and the Porsche is clearly more capable on twisty roads, where its adjustable suspension delivers tighter body control and more agile responses. The Panamera also has a slick gearbox, powerful brakes and weighty steering. It’s refined on the motorway, too, and on a par with the GT V8 at the pumps.

Downsides? The firm ride can jar around town, and on concrete roads tyre noise is a problem. Also, its PDK transmission doesn’t always do what you want it to. It doesn’t sound as good as its rival, either, but if you need a five-door supercar, the Turbo S fits the bill.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: If you want a luxurious four-seater that can blow proper sports cars into the weeds, the Panamera packs a mightier punch than most.

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