New Porsche Panamera Turbo S 2020 review

We drive the new range-topping Porsche Panamera Turbo S super saloon

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

Beautifully finished, dynamically accomplished and astonishingly rapid, the Panamera Turbo S feels worthy of its hefty price. But it also feels like it was created for fast autobahns, not crowded British B-roads. So while UK buyers might be comforted by knowing that they have got the fastest Panamera, they’re unlikely to get anywhere near enjoying its full performance. 

Porsche has been busy electrifying key parts of its line-up – including introducing the all-electric Taycan, which is now arguably the flagship of its range. But that doesn’t mean the German brand has forgotten how to do combustion-engined performance – and to prove this, it has just launched an updated Panamera Turbo S.

It sticks with V8 power, but its retuned motor has some stonking outputs: 621bhp and a whopping 820Nm of torque – gains of 79bhp and 50Nm over the old edition. The new model’s key figures are 0-62mph in just 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 198mph – pretty astonishing for a car this big.

And you feel it as you drive it, for the new Panamera Turbo S definitely has to be filed in that category of cars that are Difficult To Drive Slowly. Even pootling around town, you only have to give the right-hand pedal the smallest of inputs and you’ll find yourself pushing 40mph, not 30mph. 

But it’s the haste with which the Turbo S goes from those speeds to, say, 70mph, that is both shocking and impressive at the same time. There’s almost no lag whatsoever from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo motor, and the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox is well tuned, with rapid shifts. So you can accelerate from legal to licence-losing speeds in just a few seconds. 

The chassis feels like it’s been tuned to cope with this pace – although this brings pros and cons. We’ve no doubt that at 150mph on a German motorway the Turbo S would feel totally planted, reassuringly solid and with any body movement kept firmly in check. But this set-up is a little stiff for most of the UK’s roads; you’ll feel potholes and road scars thudding through to the cabin too often, as the Panamera’s air suspension simply runs out of capacity to cope with them.

The steering is impressively direct and has a reassuring amount of heft, while the left-hand pedal has way more feel than you have any right to expect in a big cruiser like this. Start holding gears in manual mode and you’ll get a decent noise out of the V8, too – although it still sounds a little better from outside the cabin than it does in it.

But you can’t avoid the car’s size; our test vehicle was a German model, yet even with the nearside wheels in the gutter, we could often hear (and feel) the offside pair clipping the cat’s eyes in the middle of the road. 

Model:Porsche Panamera Turbo S
Price: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol
Engine:£135,610
Power/torque:621bhp/820Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:3.1 seconds
Top speed:196mph
Economy:21.4-22.1mpg
CO2:298-289g/km
On sale: Now
Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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