It’s what’s underneath that counts.
We still can’t quite warm up to the Panamera’s bulbous hatchback styling, but we’ve learned to overlook that in favor of the car’s other virtues. The nicely appointed cabin features four sculpted, 911-style chairs, although it takes some flexibility to reach the ones in back. Those rear seats fold down to open up 44 cubic feet of cargo space — more than three times what you’ll find in a BMW 7-series. We’ve also learned our way around Porsche’s button-intensive center stack. The Panamera’s best feature, of course, is that it’s fast, especially when you opt for one of its three available V-8 engines. We suggest the 550-hp, four-wheel-drive Turbo S model for keeping away those pesky 911s. On the more sober end of the spectrum, one can opt for the same V-6 hybrid powertrain offered in the Cayenne and enjoy 30 mpg on the highway. The Hybrid comes only in rear-wheel-drive form with an eight-speed automatic. All other variants can be bought with four-wheel drive and use Porsche’s PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. For all its capability and versatility, though, the Panamera does not offer the driving involvement of its sports car brethren. The steering is accurate but numb, the brakes powerful but not very progressive. Still, it’s hard to argue with a four-door luxury car that can hang with a Nissan GT-R in a drag race.
Aston Martin Rapide
Tesla Model S
new for 2013
The Panamera carries over essentially unchanged for 2013 after adding Turbo S and S Hybrid models for 2012. Porsche did hint at a future variant at the Paris motor show, where it unveiled the Panamera Sport Turismo plug-in hybrid.
Front, side, side curtain, and front knee air bags; traction and stability control; and ABS are standard. Stability control can be disabled but will still intervene if you brake hard enough to activate ABS. Lane-departure warning is optional. The Panamera has a pedestrian safety system that raises the rear portion of the hood when its computers detect a collision.
Luxury sedan comfort
Not a looker
Top models are ludicrously expensive
Base Price Range: $76,825–$176,275
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: Panamera, Panamera S, Panamera 4, Panamera 4S, Panamera S Hybrid, Panamera Turbo, Panamera Turbo S
BODY STYLE: Sedan, 4-passenger
ENGINES: 3.0L V-6/electric hybrid, 380 hp, 428 lb-ft
3.6L V-6, 300 hp, 295 lb-ft
4.8L V-8, 400 hp, 369 lb-ft
4.8L twin-turbo V-8, 500/550 hp, 516/590 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 7- or 8-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 15.2–15.7/44.1–44.6 cu ft