2012 Porsche Panamera

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2010 Porsche Panamera — Review

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2014.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.0

Bottom Line:

The Porsche Panamera is both a great driver’s car and a fine luxury sedan. It tackles corners with glee, but offers the rear seat and cargo room to make it useful as a family car or chauffeur-driven vehicle. The Panamera immediately takes its rightful place among the world’s best sport sedans.
Pros:
  • Two flavors of powerful
  • Excellent handling
  • Roomy for people and cargo
Cons:
  • Controversial styling
  • Pricey options
  • Limited rear visibility

View Pictures:  2010 Porsche Panamera

When Porsche developed the new Panamera, its first-ever sedan, the "No Substitute" carmaker wasn't willing to compromise.

The vehicle had to have four doors, a coupelike roofline, plenty of rear-seat room, lots of cargo capacity and the handling of, well, a Porsche. Those requirements led the company to choose a unique hatchback body style.

While the resulting machine may look a bit odd, the Panamera excels in every way intended and, in our humble opinion, enters the market as one of the world's best luxury performance grand tourers.

Model Lineup
The 2010 Panamera is offered in S, 4S and Turbo versions, and starting MSRP is $89,800, $93,800 and $132,600, respectively. The S comes with rear-wheel drive, and the 4S and Turbo with all-wheel drive and an electronic brake differential. The best-equipped Porsche ever, the Panamera S and 4S come standard with such features as leather upholstery, front and rear bucket seats, heated front seats, a power rear liftgate, a navigation system, a sunroof, bi-xenon headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires. The high-luxe Turbo gets adaptive headlights, a full leather interior and 19-inch wheels.

Standard safety equipment on all Panameras includes dual front airbags, front knee airbags, front and rear side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover deployment, a tire-pressure monitor, rear park assist, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control.

Options are numerous, including front park assist and rearview camera, and they can add $60,000 to the price of the car if you choose everything. Just about every amenity is offered, and Porsche also lets buyers trim numerous interior bits in leather, Alcantara, wood or aluminum.

Under the Hood
The Panamera comes with a choice of two powerful V8 engines. The Panamera S and 4S get a 4.8-liter V8 that produces 400 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The Turbo features a twin-turbocharged version of the 4.8-liter V8 that cranks out 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. With the optional Sport Chrono Plus package, the Turbo's torque increases to 568 lb-ft for short spurts.

Both engines are mated to the Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) 7-speed automated manual transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles. The PDK uses two clutches, one to hold the current gear and one to ready the next. It provides better performance than a human shifting a manual transmission, and power to the wheels is never interrupted. The Panamera also comes with a start/stop feature that turns the engine off at stoplights to conserve fuel. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the S and 4S, and 15/23 mpg for the Turbo. No Panamera is subject to a gas-guzzler tax.

Inner Space
Hop in the front seat and you immediately notice three things. First, the Panamera is the plushest Porsche ever made, with top-notch materials and excellent fit and finish. Second, the seating position is similar to that of the 911, only higher, giving previous Porsche owners a familiar experience. Third, the full-length center console, which rises toward the dash, is chock-full of buttons (about 32 in all) with an additional 18 on the dash. No confusing BMW iDrive-type central control system for Porsche. While it will certainly take drivers time to learn the positions of all those buttons, they are easy to reach and logically grouped by function.

Like other Porsches, the Panamera's instrument cluster features the tachometer front and center, with an almost useless speedometer marked in 25 mph increments to its left. Not to worry, though, because a digital speedo that is much easier to see provides better feedback. A multifunction display sits in one of the gauge pods. It pairs with the navigation screen to show just about any information the driver might want.

Passenger room front and rear is generous. All occupants will be comfortable, thanks to supportive bucket seats at each position and an adjustable headliner in the rear seat, which rises to accommodate tall riders. The useful room front and rear could make the Panamera a fine chauffeur-driven vehicle, but who in their right mind wouldn't want to be behind the wheel of this impressive sport sedan.

The Panamera could easily be pressed into service as a family vehicle. The hatchback design provides 15.6 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats up, about the size of a large sedan's trunk. If you fold the seats down, there is 44.2 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is about the same as a Subaru Impreza hatchback. That's enough room for a family of four and their luggage on a weekend getaway.

On the Road
The Panamera's size puts it between the BMW 5-Series and 7-Series, but it drives like a smaller car. This conceit is accomplished via Porsche's use of lightweight materials, including aluminum and magnesium, for portions of the body structure, and the position of the engine, which sits low and as far back as possible under the hood, giving the car a balanced feel. The Panamera also comes with two forms of adjustable suspension that allow it to drive like a luxury sedan or a racetrack-ready sport sedan.

The base suspension comes with a Comfort mode that isn't too soft and a Sport setting that isn't too hard. Standard on the Turbo and optional on the others is an adaptive air suspension that adds a firmer Sport Plus mode and can lower the car 1 inch for better handling and stability and raise it 0.78 inches to help the front end clear curbs. Also offered is Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), which firms up the anti-roll bars to counteract body lean in turns and disconnects them to improve straight-line comfort on bumpy roads. With the touch of a couple of buttons, you can transform the Panamera's character from firm and racetrack-ready to smooth and refined.

To give journalists a taste of the Panamera's ultimate potential, Porsche put us behind the wheel on the 14-turn, 4.1-mile Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. On the track, the Panamera proved very capable, with quick, precise steering, a flat attitude through turns (especially with PDCC), and the willingness to change direction like any of the world's best sport sedans (the BMW M5 comes to mind). The Panamera's brakes, however, were overmatched on this demanding, high-speed track. While the base brakes will more than do the job on the street, we'd recommend opting for the composite ceramic brakes if you plan to take your Panamera to the track (Who would?) or regularly tackle twisty canyon roads.

The base V8 engine in the Panamera S and 4S delivers as much power as anyone would need. The S reaches 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, and the extra traction of the all-wheel-drive system cuts that time to 4.8 seconds in the 4S. The available launch-control feature takes another 0.2 second off both times.

The Turbo is a monster. Floor it and you'll be knocked back in your seat, with little feeling of turbo lag. Keep your foot in the throttle and the Panamera keeps accelerating hard until you let up. In fact, the Turbo can reach 188 mph, 12 mph more than the other two versions. Both engines are well-matched to the PDK transmission, which works well as a smooth automatic and, in the Sport and Sport Plus modes, keeps the rpms up to deliver more willing power for sporty driving.

Right for You?
The Panamera will appeal to luxury sport-sedan buyers looking for a car that offers a fine balance of interior luxury and superior handling. Families could use it as their only vehicle, and it would make a great car to impress clients. Repeat buyers of the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Classes may also look to the Panamera as a new, different option. While the pricing is certainly high, it is not out of line with the competition. The options can get expensive, though, so choose them wisely.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.

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BB06 - 7/30/2014 2:56:08 AM