The original intent of bringing the thrills 911 into harmony with the added practicality and sophistication of a luxury saloon did, for the most part, express itself masterfully with the original Porsche Panamera. While it had its detractors, most of those took issue with the car’s impetus for existence and/or exterior styling, and none could muster a convincing argument that attacked its on-road dynamics.
Zuffenhausen, then, embarked upon an all-new generation of premium super sedan, upping the ante in almost every respect. The new car would still be as otherworldly competent on its feet while being able to ferry extra passengers (and their luggage) in refined comfort and prestige.
The result is a machine that is in many ways the consummate four-door, suddenly bringing cars like not only like the Aston Martin Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte, but also BMW M5, Audi RS6, and Mercedes-AMG E 63 into greater insecurity as the Panamera was developed with the sole intent on being the best handling saloon instead of undergoing latter augmentation.
Porsche has taken the numerous lessons learned with their original Panamera to bear on this sequel, developing it around an all-new modular platform that will go on to serve multiple marques under its parent, the Volkswagen Group, together with a thumping all-new V8 and a thorough going over of its structural constitution, trimming weight and adding rigidity.
Speaking of powertrains, some carry-over motors are present as well, though they are most welcome for the most part, to power some of lower-tier variants. Also returning is the inclusion of the more city-friendly Hybrid.
It’s still an expensive machine, all told, even with contrasted against its closest approximation of rivals. But with a greater emphasis on being a luxurious and very brisk mode of travel, coupled with the addition of many new technology features, the Panamera is now perhaps able to better justify its asking price.
“The ‘realignment’ Porsche describes may not leap from the page, but closer attention reveals a conscientious effort to edge the design closer to that of the 911.” - Autocar
While this is subjective, the first generation Panamera did indeed have its share of critics when it came to looks. Porsche’s second run yielded a car that manages to balance out the more questionable proportions and cues with a genuinely more hunkered down, sporty stance.
Even the lower tier variants have a decidedly more aggressive snarl to their aesthetic, despite its size. Factor in the larger wheels and more convincing (though still subtle) aero elements higher up the food chain, and the Panamera can give any super car a good fight in terms of sheer on-road presence.
In all, its front and rear fascia do a much better job at mimicking Porsche’s signature car’s genetics, and in spite of offering more space inside as well as a nearly unchanged silhouette, the car now looks more coupe-like when viewed from the side or at a three-quarters angle from any corner. It’s now closer than ever to being a stretched 911.
The MSB platform and better use of material mean that the Panamera weighs in at just under 1,900kg - given its sheer size, isn’t bad at all. It also gives Porsche greater flexibility when catering for longer wheelbase derivatives as well as allowing for the arrival of its Sport Turismo body style, essentially a more wagon-like version of the standard car that offers additional load lugging capacity.
Engine and Drivetrain
“When the 4S performs this well, it makes you wonder whether you need the twin-turbo V-8. Then you get into the V-8 and are blown away by the power at your disposal.” - Motor Trend
As before, the standard Panamera can be had with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, both powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 that delivers 243kW and 450Nm. The 4S, meanwhile, boost output to 324kW and 550Nm thanks to a new 2.9-litre bi-turbo unit. Unlike other markets, the Diesel isn’t available in Australia.
In either configuration, the engines are remarkably refined and move the 2-tonne saloon along at an impressive rate. Naturally, ones equipped with all wheel drive will be able to accelerate more quickly off the line given the surplus of grip, but for some real neck-strain, the E-Hybrid should be called upon, especially for roll-on thrust.
Where the base car with rear wheel drive achieves a respectable 5.5 second dash to 100km/h, the 4 E-Hybrid manages that in 4.6 seconds. It’s our pick among the range for the best compromise between running costs and sheer performance despite the non-electrified (and therefore lighter) Panamera 4S managing that same sprint 0.4s quicker. Plug it in to charge up the battery where convenient and its all-electric range of 50km can be mighty useful.
While nearly all Porsche models are now technically turbocharged, the Panamera Turbo continues this naming convention to denote the most powerful variant of a given model. Equipped with an all-new 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine capable of 405kW and 770Nm, all-wheel drive, rear air-suspension, and rear-wheel steering, its means serious business with the throttle depressed while not greatly compromising its aptitude as luxury cruiser.
However, the Turbo S E-Hybrid marries the storming V8 with a 100kW electric motor. In addition to helping reduce emissions and general fuel consumption, the total system output delivers enough sheer performance to nullify any effects of additional mass caused by the battery and additional motor. Max power is now 500kW and torque is 850Nm, resulting in a dash to the century mark of just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 310km/h.
No matter the engine, though, all variants of the Panamera uses an all-new 8-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission that’s capable of some truly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shifts courtesy of clever optimisation that also markedly improves low-speed smoothness. Without it, the Panamera’s ferocious acceleration would simply not be possible.
“Inside the cabin is where the new Panamera really excels, with a beautifully crafted design and top-class materials.” - AutoExpress
Porsche has stepped up the Panamera’s credentials greatly with the car’s all-new interior. It’s a truly well-crafted space that has clearly had some careful consideration and taste applied to it. Top class materials are blended expertly with expert construction, and the button-fest that defined the older model is now replaced by an intuitive mix of tactile switches and touch-activated glass surfaces.
Depending on the chosen trim or options, the Panamera’s leather interior can be further lavished in carbon inserts, or wood, or exposed satin-finished aluminium. There isn't a terrible amount of height on offer here given the car’s low roofline, especially as it tapers toward the rear, but that said even 6-foot occupants should be able to adjust themselves into a comfortable spot.
Up front, the high transmission tunnel and low H-point really does cocoon you into the sense of being a very well appointed sports car, more effectively so than its predecessor managed, and visibility is generally good all-around.
Naturally, the larger cabin of the Sport Turismo should entice those needing to carry more luggage or ferry the family dog along, but the standard sedan’s 500-litre boot can swallow a healthy amount of cargo, accessed easily thanks to its hatchback design - just mind the load lip. . With the rear seats folded, that expands to 1,340-litres.
Behind The Wheel
From the outside it sounds superb, particularly when roaring past you, but inside a large proportion of that soundtrack feels like it has been filtered out in the interest of motorway refinement. - CAR Magazine
Armed with a greater arsenal of numbers and engineering advantages by way of its all-new chassis developed with agility and responsiveness in mind, and paired with Porsche’s apparent mastery for calibration to mask mass, it’s no surprise that the all-new Panamera drives as well as it does. The hype is real.
How a car this heavy and this able to tackle bends with such verve often seems physically unreasonable. Digging a little deeper reveals a combination of systems working together through Porsche’s 4D Chassis Control unit, variably amplifying or muting the effects of the all-wheel drive system, powertrain response, torque vectoring, rear-wheel steer angle, and suspension firmness to move the car in tune with the driver’s wishes. A lot is happening behind the scenes, but it all comes together to inspire some definite awe in the driver.
Switch it from the no-nonsense Sport Plus mode into Comfort, and the Panamera morphs into a mannered limousine in a matter of seconds. Of course, it’s not up there with the likes of the S-Class or 7-Series, but the degree to which it can convincingly alternate between those split extremes of personality is very impressive.
Safety and Technology
Porsche has moved to the ‘Porsche Advanced Cockpit’ which replaces most dials and instruments with seamlessly integrated LCD screens. The only exception to that rule is the large central tachometer. - Motoring
As its high price demands, Porsche has equipped their all-new Panamera with a raft of the latest in active safety features. Standard kit includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane change and lane keep assist, even traffic jam assist and active cruise control.
While true that it hasn’t been through either ANCAP or Euro NCAP’s barrage of trials, the Panamera does share common structural elements with other VW Group brands like Audi, a marque that consistently produces some of the safest cars out there. There’s front, knee, side chest airbags, and curtain airbags for all passengers.
A 12.3-inch widescreen display dominates the dashboard, housing the latest generation of the Porsche Communication Management system that supports Apple CarPlay and replaces many of the functions that were previously toggled by physical button, removing excess clutter. The panel itself is clear and crisp, with an slick and responsive interface that is mirrored dynamically on the screen within the instrument cluster.
The second-generation Porsche Panamera is in many ways a leap forward from the benchmark set by the original, improving on nearly every aspect. There’s more performance, a better interior, more luxury, and even has more crowd pleasing looks.
While not the prettiest of the four-door GTs, there’s a broader appeal to the new car that resonates more closely to the marque’s distinguished dedicated sports cars. Where the car excels, though, is in the department of ride and refinement.
The new platform and clever electronic wizardly work in unison have made it possible for the new Panamera to be a true dual-purpose machine, juggling between hard-edged sportiness with silky relaxation in a matter of moments. Porsche’s engineering emphasis to bridge the divide between legitimate luxury cars has paid of handsomely, and expanded their super saloon’s circle of potential buyers that little further than the niche market it feared to be relegated to.
AutoExpress - 4/5 - Second-generation Panamera improves on its predecessor with sharper styling, an exquisite interior and new engines.
Motor Trend - “It might not be as outright opulent as the S-Class, but the Porsche manages to balance luxury with true sports car performance in a way no other automaker can.”
Autocar - 5/5 “…the new Panamera’s success is in its ability to wipe away any reservations about what it is via the sheer breadth and brilliance of all it does.”
CarAdvice - 9.0/10 - Whichever way you look at it, the 2017 Porsche Panamera is a sensational machine. As stylish, luxurious, comfortable and fast as the best of them, attributes that arguably push the Porsche to the top of the luxury, executive, grand tourer tree.
Motoring.com.au 78/100 - “…for something that integrates luxury and technology so seamlessly, proudly wears a Porsche badge on its snout and has the dynamic aptitude of a (large) peregrine falcon, it makes one wonder just how far Porsche can take this concept.
CAR Magazine 4/5 - In the market for a showcase GT that can do double duty as limo? Then prepare to want one. Frankly, if you can afford the asking price you can probably afford the fuel, so personally we might place the twin-turbo petrol V6 further up the list – it’s lighter still on its feet.”