Stuff that has everyone all agog with excitement
Adulting is inevitable. The habit of learning to make practical decisions over pleasure-oriented ones, often involving more than just ourselves, is something most of us have to grow into. For a Porsche lover cum owner, it may entail benching or giving away their beloved 911 or Boxster for a more pragmatic vehicle like the Panamera.
What we see here is the facelifted version of the second generation Panamera. Most recently, we got to spend nearly 100 hours in the GTS variant. And here’s what we think of the 4-door coupe from Stuttgart!
Design & aesthetics
Porsche always attempts to embed the essence of their coveted 911 in each of its models both in terms of styling and driving experience. And this second generation Panamera is a successful attempt at that grafting process. It is a magnified version of what is possibly the world’s favourite sportscars, with 2 extra doors, actual rear seats, and a usable boot. It also gets a properly smooth, raked roofline, unlike the hunchback of gen 1. The seductive lines blend sporty 911 implants with an executive outlook that is hard to resist, and it is especially fetching in this Carmine Red paintwork, which by the way, is a Dh13,750 option. And the fancy 3-piece retractable spoiler, which is functional at speed also works as a party trick to impress the ‘boys’, who may also drool over the asymmetrical, gun barrel-styled exhaust pipes.
This revamped model gets a few tweaks here and there, including a rear lamp that runs continuously from side to side. And the GTS tag adds black trims everywhere. One thing is certain, the Panamera GTS won’t be mistaken for being any other sedan on the streets, German or otherwise, and being distinctive is speaking the rich man’s language.
The spiffy interior is an amalgamation of high-end materials put together beautifully. Again, they know how to make the rich feel rich. The leather upholstered surfaces feel smooth, the glossy wood trims have an incredible visual texture and the satin metallic trims add a gentle sheen to it all. There is no starter button, instead, it has an ignition knob on the left of the steering wheel, a nod to Le Mans racers of the past and turning it awakens a growling V8. The driving position is decidedly perfect, very much like a 911, with plenty of power adjustments for the seats (18 to be precise) and steering which make it easy to get it right and the aggressive seat bolsters will hug you tighter than a long-lost friend around corners.
The instrument cluster blends the traditional with the new age, keeping the tachometer central flanked by customisable digital ones that can display the nav map, vehicle stats etc. While multimedia duties are handled via a large 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with a UX design that is both legible and engaging. Below it is a futuristic sloping glass interface housing digital buttons that offer haptic feedback on clicking but attract fingerprints.
Powertrain & performance
By ditching the last generation’s naturally aspirated V8 for a turbocharged V8, Porsche has won big favour in the numbers department and amongst keyboard warriors. This is a biturbo 4.0-litre V8 that churns out 620 Nm of torque available from 1,800 rpm all the way to 4,000. The flat torque curve gives it ample grunt even in low-speed situations. And this motor loves to redline too. Together it strikes the perfect balance between everyday drivability and track car thrust. Porsche has figured out a way around turbo lag as well.
And the noise! It rumbles and crackles like a mechanical symphony. You’d wake up early and drive the long route to work just to hear that growl. This is another place where the incredible 8-Speed PDK transmission comes into effect. It allows one to play with the exhaust notes like a musical instrument via the lightning-quick shifts triggered by clicking the paddles. But for the most part, we left it to its own devices and let the near-flawless shift algorithm do its thing. With Launch Control engaged, it will rip to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds. And will continue to push all the way to the magical 300 km/h mark.
But unlike the 911, this ‘baby’s got back’ which means you can feel the 5053 mm length from the driver’s seat. The good news is, as the speed climbs this apparent length and mass disappears. The body follows steering input with remarkable accuracy thanks to the well-calibrated steering mechanism and traction offered by the rear-biased all-wheel drive system. This allows you to hit the apexes of sharp corners almost every single time and maintain the racing line over long sweeping arcs. Having the ride height lowered by 10 mm helps and the trick optional rear-axle steering helps greatly.
Carbon ceramics brake discs are a near-Dh40,000 option, but the standard steelies are all you need. The GTS stops on a dime without complaint and with plenty of feedback. The air suspension helps the GTS maintain composure over all sorts of tarmac conditions, keeping it very well-damped without being overly floaty. But if you’re looking ‘waftability’, other German sedans may offer better ride comfort.
Attempting to match Porsche’s claimed fuel economy of 10-something km/l takes great amounts of discipline, which is opposite to this car’s spirit, but even if you are the kind that redlines his or her way to the grocery store, you can be rest assured that there will be plenty of petrol left. It does have a giant 90-litre tank after all.
Practicality & features
This Panamera is a 4-seater like the Merc’ CLS but it can also be configured as a 5-seater with a bench at the rear. It also gives rear passengers certain privileges like climate controls and privacy shades to block the sun or prying eyes. As for luggage accommodation, Porsche has endowed it with a carpeted boot for a cushioned landing for your belongings — all 495 litres of it. And you get 1,334 litres if you drop the seats down. It does have a tall lip though meaning you’d have to lift your luggage over the hump. Alternatively, you can also get the Sport Turismo version for estate-silhouette benefits.
Thankfully, Porsche isn’t lacking in the technology department, unlike some other European vehicles. It offers a great array of features to keep you safe, connected and entertained, albeit with a few quibbles. It’s got onboard Wi-Fi and a wireless charging pad (although I despise semi-disclosed location). You also have Apple Carplay, but not Android Auto. And you can play your favourite tunes through the loud and clear Bose speaker system, if the Dh20,000 Burmester audio seems a little too exorbitant, which it is. And finally, the directional controls of the A/C vents are really funky in the sense its draft can only be digitally controlled via the screen.
Safety-wise, I highly recommend you browse the list in detail. It includes adaptive cruise control, Night Vision Assist, Lane Change Assist, LED matrix headlights including PDLS Plus, Park Assist including Surround View and head-up display.
Porsche’s personal vendetta against boredom has made it engineer vehicles that are thrilling to drive, and this newly revamped Panamera GTS is proof. It keeps you excited like a teenager with spleen-splitting torque, crackling exhaust noises and effortlessly tractable chassis, while easily taking on adulting duties, of hauling peeps and a trunk full of luggage to every social gathering in comfort and in style. The lofty 600k price tag may offset your plans of buying that fancy 2-bedroom condo and things like the hidden-phone charger and lack of Android Auto may irk some users. But if money was no object, these are problems I would love to complain about.
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