First Drive – 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S

Back in the days of yore if someone suggested there would be a Porsche SUV you would be laughed out of the room but not before getting slapped in the face.  Flash forward to the current year and the best selling model in the Porsche line up is a SUV!  Whoa how did that happen?  It is simple really; a small 2 door car coupe/convertible/etc is not practical for everyone.  To build on that success Porsche figured why not build a four door “sports” car.  People seem to want to purchase a Porsche and some people care about practicality.  The two combined equals a need for more then just two door sports cars.  Now we have a new four door (it is really a five door but more on that later) Porsche sedan.  The real question I had was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?

The exterior of the Panamera is recognizable as a Porsche without question.  The front end has styling elements that make it look like an enormous redone 911.  The two round headlights have LED strips hanging below them on the bumper.  The LED strips are day time running lights and at night the same housing has another set of lights that come on.  These act as fog lights or driving lights in a sense.  The side profile has nice sculpting from right behind the front fenders down the side.  The rear is what is truly controversial.  Let’s just get something out of the way quickly.  I like this car.  I like the way it looks.  I am apparently weird and I am ok with that.  Ok now moving on, the rear is what some call hunch backed or carrying too much baggage.  Some are saying it is droopy.  Call it what you want but I see Porsche design in it.  This car is nothing short of huge.  It is right around the size of a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 to mention a few.  Technically speaking the Panamera is a five door since the rear does not have a trunk lid rather a rear hatch.  The quad exhaust peak out from the rear to remind you of the power that lurks in the engine bay both on the naturally aspirated V8 and the Twin Turbo V8.

The interior is not quite as controversial as the exterior.  It is pure sporting luxury.  The seats are comfortable and supportive.  They hug you in all the right places.  These are not barcaloungers and no they will not massage you.  They are meant to hold you in place firmly.  The center console between the driver and passenger runs the length of the car.  In the front it rises up and meets the PCM (Porsche Communication Management System).  This design cue is somewhat similar to the center stack in the Carrera GT.  That center stack houses a dizzying array of buttons though they are all clearly marked and clumped together by function.  The PCM is a touch screen along with plenty of buttons to choose from to help operate it.  This was definitely a complex system but I was able to use it without the owners manual though others in this segment have easier systems to operate.  The interior fit and finish is definitely without question up to Porsche standards if not raising the bar within the company.

The engine in this car was a 4.8 liter direct injected V8 pumping out 400 hp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels.  Since this was a Panamera 4S all wheel drive was standard.  The one choice transmission was Porsches newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) dual clutch transmission.  Launch control is activated by pushing the sport plus button then hitting the brake and then the gas.  You get a visual confirmation launch control is activated and let go of the brake.  You will hear a noise and then suddenly all four wheels grab the pavement and launch the car.  You are thrown back into your seat as the car launches hard and fast.  (PSA – Do this on an empty road two lane road).  You can use the transmission in full automatic mode or shift yourself using the buttons (hate those things) or by moving the gear shift to the manual gate.  The 911 Turbo is getting true paddles this year so hopefully they will trickle down and replace those buttons.  The car without question handles like a true Porsche.  Yes I have driven a different Porsche recently and yes, this does handle differently.  It is a big car, but with that said, the faster you go the smaller the car seems.  It shrinks as you go around corners and off ramps.  It shrugs off speed.  Handling is very impressive.

The particular Panamera 4S I was in had quite a few option packages.  I will skip going through them all though the options rang up to a total of $17,550.  That was on top of the base price of a Panamera 4S which starts at $93,800.  When all is said and done the total sticker price out the door would be $112,325.  That is a lot of coin, but the reality of it is that the Panamera is in the thick of it with the rest of the high priced luxury cars.

The original question was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?  This car is a true Porsche.  Sure many Porschephile’s will say this is not a true Porsche because it weighs nearly 4,300 lbs and has four doors (by the way, that is light for a car this big).  My only question to them is: have you driven one? While it will not be for everyone the reality of it is simple, higher volume selling vehicles like the Cayenne and possibly the Panamera help keep the lights on for future development of lower volume cars like the 911 and whatever the next halo car might be.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership

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One Response to “First Drive – 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S”

  1. Branden #

    Informative article as usual Joel. I have to agree with you in regards to the looks of this car. I personally love it. The first time I had ever seen it was when one was driving behind me on the highway at night. I couldn’t tell what it was until it passed me. Very sharp LED’s at night!

    07/01/2010 at 6:07 pm Reply

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