2011 Porsche Panamera 4: Short Take Road Test
This 2011 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2012.
By Mark Gillies of Car and Driver
Sticking a 3.6-liter V-6 engine into the Porsche Panamera's ample frame would seem to be as good a performance recipe as chopping off a couple of engines from a Boeing 747, but in reality, the base Panamera is still plenty fast. Okay, so it doesn't leap off the line and hurtle toward the horizon like its Turbo sibling, but our all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 still posted a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds and covered the standing quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds. Those are great numbers, and they're backed by a 70-to-0-mph braking figure of 158 feet and skidpad grip of 0.96 g. For comparison, the BMW 740i takes 5.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, manages 0.88 g, and stops from 70 mph in 163 feet.
Underhood, the base Panamera has a new 3.6-liter double-overhead-cam, direct-injection 90-degree V-6 that makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The angle of the V provides a clue that this engine is derived from the Panamera's V-8 unit rather than being a transplanted Volkswagen Group mill. It's mated to Porsche's slick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which gets a launch-control program with the optional $1480 Sport Chrono package — a feature our example had; hence, its startling 0-to-30-mph time of 1.4 seconds, just 0.2 second behind the 500-hp Turbo.
Downsizing Doesn't Mean Much Sacrifice
On the road, the relative lack of grunt compared with the 400-hp Panamera S isn't that evident. The V-6 engine makes a nice snarl under hard acceleration and is well matched to the seven-speed gearbox. Passing performance is solid, and the car goes on to a top speed of 160 mph, which is more than anyone except autobahn-storming Germans will ever need. The car gets decent gas mileage for a luxo-sedan, averaging 21 mpg in our tender care, better than the Panamera S (19 mpg) and the last Mercedes S550 we tested (17 mpg).
Of course, all the Panamera's dynamic goodness is passed along: strong brakes, sharp steering, and move-over-pavement-I'm-in-charge handling. For luxury-sedan drivers who prefer pace over highway poise, the Panamera is the perfect tool. It actually rides quite well, too, if you opt for the $3980 adaptive air suspension.
As with other Panameras, we love the stylish interior, the amount of legroom in the back, and the practicality of the hatchback cargo area. But most of us around here still think it was beaten with an ugly stick, and it doesn't come cheaply, either. The base price is a hair under $80,000, but by the time our test car had gently strolled through the options process, the sticker had risen to $99,210. As is typical for Porsche, you can spend silly money if you're liberal in checking the options boxes. Playing with the setup, we got to $159,000 for a V-6 Panamera without trying very hard. If there's anyone left who wonders how Porsche is so profitable, therein lies the answer.
Still, the Panamera 4 is the sleeper in Porsche's four-door lineup. It doesn't lose much in performance to the V-8-engined Panamera 4S, uses less gas, and has a base price that's $15,800 lower. For someone who really cares about back-road romps, the V-6 Panamera makes a compelling alternative to more conventional sedans like the similarly priced Audi A8 and BMW 7-series.
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):