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New Porsche Panamera 2024 review: a brute in a suit

Porsche’s four-door flagship is more desirable than ever, but may strike the wrong balance for luxury buyers

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The new Porsche Panamera appeals to the traditional metrics of superb interior quality, high-end powertrains and an engaging chassis. This entry-level model might lack the firepower of its higher-ranking siblings, but its overarching appeal is undeniable. Just don’t go expecting Mercedes S-Class levels of comfort or refinement. 

The Panamera has a tough job operating as a flagship for Porsche. This high-spec executive car doesn’t just have to compete with traditional luxury car rivals when it comes to comfort and refinement, it must also perform dynamically – as you’d reasonably expect any Porsche model to do. Add to this a need to jostle with the latest high-end electric cars, and it’s clear the stakes are high for this new third generation.

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We say new, but despite featuring a different ‘G3’ model code, the underlying MSB chassis and platform is still shared with the previous-generation car, one co-developed with Bentley as the VW Group’s premier passenger car platform. This means that all the toys have been thrown at it in order to perform, engage and indulge in a way its £80,000 base price would demand. 

As the new generation matures in the market, more variants will be introduced, including a total of three plug-in hybrid variants. But to begin with we’re starting with the Panamera 4 (a rear-drive Panamera is also available), fitted with a perfectly sensible 348bhp twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine. 

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From the driver’s seat, the initial impression is one of impressive quality and mass. This is a big car, and in typical Porsche fashion the driving position is low – only serving to exaggerate the car’s overall dimensions.

The subtly redesigned dashboard is even more minimal than before, with most controls now relegated to the touchscreen. Key climate functions are still on-hand, however, but those with an aversion to glossy black plastic will struggle with the very scratchable centre console. 

There’s plenty of space inside for four, although two six-foot adults might find themselves a little cramped sitting behind one another. The boot is large and flexible, plus it has been subtly reshaped to comfortably fit two sets of golf clubs. Unfortunately, if you were hoping for an updated Sport Turismo estate then you’ll be disappointed, as this hatchback is the only bodystyle being offered this time around. 

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The V6 engine itself is a co-developed unit, this time shared with a few Audi RS models. But here you’ll find it in a more relaxed state of tune. This is an inherently sweet engine, with good low down response and barely any lag, thanks to relatively low boost pressures from its turbos in their hot-V layout. 

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It sounds good too, changing its tone depending on the driver mode – although this is most obvious when paired to the optional sports exhaust system. This is then linked to an eight-speed PDK transmission, which unlike many dual-clutch systems, does a brilliant job of mooching around at low speeds.

Even fitted with the entry-level powertrain, Porsche quotes an impressive 0-62mph time of just five seconds. Yet on the road its performance isn’t quite as impressive. Despite a relatively strong 500Nm of torque and a reasonable 1,925kg kerb weight, the engine needs to be worked fairly hard to maintain good progress. A well endowed six-cylinder diesel rival, such as the BMW 840d, won’t be much slower in the real world, keeping in mind that the Porsche will struggle to better 28mpg. 

Yet what the Panamera lacks in straight-line speed, it makes up for in handling talent; Porsche has done a brilliant job of imbuing such a big car with an authentic driver focus. Our car was fitted with the most basic suspension option, though in the Panamera’s case that’s still a very sophisticated dual-chamber air-system with dual-valve dampers. As such, the car corners with impressive precision – the body remains flat under hard cornering, with a surprising amount of feedback through the steering. 

There’s a phenomenal amount of front-end grip, and even when you try to push it beyond the limit, the Panamera will cling on without a hint of understeer. There’s not enough power in the V6 to be interested in rotating from the rear, though, there’s simply too much traction. The all-wheel drive system is also completely foolproof, feeling totally locked down and eminently capable, even in the wet.

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The compromise in this scenario is that it also rides like a Porsche. At low speeds, there’s enough compliance to keep things comfortable, handling things like speed humps and potholes in a refined manner. But over tougher roads, you can sense the relative stiffness in the new dual-valve dampers. Switch through the Sport and Sport Plus drive modes and the dampers get even firmer.

Road noise is also a factor, as the big Michelin tyres can generate a lot of it, despite the car’s generally exceptional overall refinement. Don’t expect Mercedes S-Class – or even E-Class – levels of overall refinement.

What’s very clear is that the Panamera feels like it’s been designed to handle double the power, which in reality it has if you’ve the means to step up to the Turbo E-Hybrid. 

But even without the high-powered engines or complex chassis systems that come with it, such as the optional Active Ride Control system, rear-wheel steering or any trick power torque vectoring differentials, the Panamera 4 still feels wonderfully composed and brilliantly engineered.

Model:Porsche Panamera 4
Price:£82,500
Engine:2.9-litre V6 turbo petrol
Power/torque:348bhp/500Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:5.0 seconds
Top speed:168mph
Economy/CO2:28mpg/230g/km
Size (L/W/H):5,052/1,937/1,423
On sale:Now
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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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