The Porsche name is synonymous with sporting performance and prestige. What started as a small motor vehicle consulting firm in Stuttgart Germany, has become a major player on the world wide automotive scene.
While Porsche has earned this reputation on the back of its iconic 911, they now offer a full range of premium automobiles. Despite protests from purists, the new, larger vehicles have quickly become the brand’s top sellers. These include the Cayenne SUV and four-door coupe Panamera.
The main reason the Panamera upset many Porsche enthusiasts is because it breaks their signature formula. While all 911’s have been light, two-door coupes with its engine mounted behind the rear axle, the Panamera is much larger, has four doors, and its engine is up front.
Since the popularity of these cars proved a market for a high performance luxury sedan exists, Porsche decided to give the Panamera a small refresh and expand the line in 2014. The additions included Porsche’s first ever plug-in hybrid, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, and luxurious Executive versions for the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S models. After these updates, 2015 doesn’t see many changes.
Even owners of past Panamera models can be excused if they fail to spot the cosmetic differences between the past generation and this one. Following Porsche tradition, styling changes have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
At the front, the air intakes are larger and the headlights are more sweeping and feature LED’s.
The biggest changes occur at the back. The rear hatch has been revised with a larger window on a steeper rake. This helps smooth out the car’s silhouette. The spoiler is also wider, licence plate holder is lower, and the LED taillights are more pronounced.
Inside, a similar theme to the exterior styling was used. The evolutionary approach and minor alterations should make current owners feel at home.
Modern Porsches have become class-leaders for interior style and quality. No longer are they sports cars with sparse accommodations. The Panamera’s cockpit is very driver focused but other occupants will be very comfortable, especially in the stretched Executive versions.
In regards to the Executive models, the wheelbase is extended 15 cm over the others. These models are the equivalent to flying in business class on the most prestigious airline.
The centre console is the command zone and is full of buttons. A touchscreen, set higher on the dash, also remains.
From the driver’s position, all the important information is clearly displayed in Porsche’s signature five gauge panel. Sticking with tradition, a large tachometer takes centre stage. The S E-Hybrid gets minor tweaks, namely bright green needles and an efficiency gauge replacing the speedometer.
The rear seat in standard wheelbase models is designed to comfortably seat someone who is 6’4”. There is only two seats in the back, but both passengers have a lot of room. For those who feel they need to offer more space and luxury to their rear passengers, they should look into the Executive models.
When you look at the Panamera’s engine options, you realize just how much performance this luxury four-door coupe offers – even the base model boasts more than 300 horsepower!
The entry-level engine (if it can be called that) found in the Panamera and Panamera 4, is a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6. It produces 310 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which is capable of hauling the rear-wheel drive cars from zero to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds; 6.1 seconds in all-wheel drive trim.
Stepping up to the S/4S models sees a drop in displacement to 3.0-litres, but the addition of two turbos. Through clever engineering, the “downsizing” increases horsepower to 420 hp and decreases fuel consumption 18%.
For a more pure Porsche experience, the GTS model retains a 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8. A new air induction system helps produce 440 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque.
The two top-of-the-line Turbo models also have a 4.8-litre V8, but add two turbos. The turbochargers are mounted parallel, one for each cylinder bank, and the cooler air boosts horsepower to 520 and torque to 516 lb-ft.
The newcomer to the range, the S E-Hybrid, is a parallel plug-in hybrid. This means it can run on its 3.0-litre supercharged V6, which generates 333 hp, or its electric motor producing 95 hp, or both, combining to create 416 hp. The lithium-ion battery can be recharged in about 4 hours while plugged in or can recuperate some electricity while driving, through brake energy recovery or by the combustion engine.
Driving the new S E-Hybrid is not much of a departure from the traditional Panamera’s. It will rocket to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, but even under hard acceleration, the gasoline engine doesn’t make much noise. Also, the steering and brakes are not quite as razor sharp, mostly due to their regenerative responsibilities.
All models, except the hybrid, come with Porsche’s seven-speed PDK transmission, which is lightning quick. The S E-Hybrid comes with an eight-speed tiptronic S gearbox.
They all come with selectable driving modes. Normal mode is comparatively softer and more comfortable. Selecting Sport mode quickens the throttle response and tightens the suspension. On equipped models, the Sport Plus mode takes everything to the next level, but is only recommended for warm, dry roads.
To make Executive models even more special, they are equipped with Adaptive air-suspension featuring Porsche Active Suspension Management. This combines the expected Porsche performance while enhancing ride comfort to please those in the rear seats.
One thing to be aware of when driving the Panamera: it is a long car, especially the Executive models. While trying to keep a sporty appearance, Porsche used smaller side mirrors which make reversing and parking difficult.
The Panamera isn’t for everyone. It truly is a Porsche sports car and being low, long and wide makes it hard to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces. However, this car is spectacular out on the open road and is a great choice for a long journey. Its driving dynamics make it just as fun as any smaller sports car, but the Panamera offers more comfort and passenger space.
The 2014 Panamera is for someone looking for Porsche performance but needs an extra two seats and likes a big, luxurious car. What do you think about it? Tell us in the comments below.