If you’re a deep pocketed individual, your idea of a family car or a car that’ll suit your needs – that of having a chauffeur drive while you sit at the back and sip champagne – would range from an S-Class to a 7 Series or an AS. And if you’re a deep pocketed individual with taste, you’d probably consider the Bentley Flying Spur or a Maserati Quattroporte as your perfect family car. But if you’re areal petrolhead and a track day is your idea of a perfect weekend, you’d probably fancy a Porsche.
Yes, we agree that the first thing that might put you off the Panamera could be the way it looks. Those awry proportions and the way the Porsche designers thought of shaping the rear of the Panamera may have been a sore point earlier. Bu t now, your prayers have been answered. Porsche has redone its idea of a family car and built a new one from the grounds up. World, welcome the all-new, second-gen Porsche Panamera.
For starters, the odd shape of the Panamera has been completely rethought and this one, when you see one in the flesh, will look refreshingly well-shaped. The basic idea of the design has remained the same, but the crucial changes make it look well proportioned, sporty and most importantly, desirable. There are the right number of sharp creases running the length of the car, and after many, many years, the designers have got the C pillar right. The tail-lamps are three dimensional – like the ones we’ve seen on the Macan- making the Panamera look sporty and classy at the same time.
A lot has changed on the inside too. Everything is made to look modern and will look contemporary even after four years. The toggle switches have made way for a chic touchpad on the centre console. It controls everything from the air-con to driving modes. For your multimedia requirements, there’s a 12.3-inch touchscreen display. To be a good family car, you need plenty of space at the back. And the Panamera ticks that box too. The engineers have increased the wheelbase by 20mm and freed up more space. But it’s a strict four seater and there’s a large console in place of the middle seat in the rear. Just like the front, there’s a touchpad to control individual air-con and entertainment settings.
This Panamera can easily be called an over-engineered piece of machinery. Simple tasks like adjusting the air vent’s directions are assigned to a touchscreen. Geeky? Yes. Gimicky? Yes. And the list doesn’t end there. There’s a spoiler on the top-spec Turbo version that, unlike conventional supercar spoilers, doesn’t just raise itself when you hit high speeds. It raises, unfolds and takes its desired shape like the Ironman suit. On our drive in Dubai, we folded and unfolded the spoiler tens of times just to look at it.
Internationally, the Panamera will be available with two engine options- a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 in the 4S spec and a4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 called the Turbo. When the Panamera comes to India later this year, it’ll be sold only with the big fat V8. It generates 546bhp and an earth-shattering 770Nm of twist. All of that power is accessible from very low revs all the way till 7,000rpm. In normal mode, it keeps its voice in check, but for occasions when you want to announce to the world that there’s a V8 under the hood, a button on the centre console activates the sport exhaust to allow the V8 to sing louder.
The V6, too, is a riot. Yes, admittedly not as much as the V8, but if you don’t have a race day or a drag race in mind, it’ll do the job absolutely fine. It chums out 437bhp and 500Nm of torque. Just like the V8, the power delivery is linear and its wide spread is equally astonishing. And it’s no slowpoke either. A smart launch control and the AWD system help it hit 100kph from standstill in just 4.2 seconds. Like the 911991.2, there’s a tiny knob on the steering wheel that helps you change driving modes.
Once you shift to S+ (Sport+), it’ll keep the engine on the boil, stiffen up the springs and will ready this Panamera for a hunt. Assisting the brilliantly responsive V8 is an all-new dual-clutch gearbox. Doing away with the seven-speed PDK, Porsche has employed an eight-speeder to do the job of sending all the torque that the V8 churns out to all four wheels. In regular driving conditions, it’ll be rear-biased with only little power being fed to the front differential. But when the need arises, it instantaneously transfers half of the available power to the front wheels.
The PDK transmission has always been a benchmark for quick responses and smart shifts. This one takes the game to a new level where it changes cogs in less time than you’d take to blink an eye. Porsche claims that it has mastered the art of witchcraft and made this large family car an agile handler. This, the Panamera Turbo,beat the previous-gen 911GT3 RS at the Nurburgring with a time of 7 minute 38 seconds. And this is courtesy a very smart on-board computer, some clever engineering on the chassis and use of a lot of aluminium on the body.
On a course set up for us with a slalom and really tight bends, the Panamera almost defied physics in the way it managed its weight and in the way it showed willingness to change directions. The steering is sharp and responsive, and there’s enough grip for you to think of the Panamera as a proper sports car instead of a family car. And if you ask about straight line acceleration, you’d be surprised to know that a car this big and weighing two tonnes can crack a ton in a mere 3.6seconds. We sampled the Panamerain Dubai, a city that doesn’t know bad roads or potholes.
We’d be able to comment on the Panamera’s ability to handle potholes only once it comes to India in the second half of this year. The Panamera has the Bentley Flying Spur and the Maserati Quattroporte in its sights, and there’s little doubt that both these cars are at the top of their game. The Flying Spur is a bit too bulky an d less willing for a day at the racetrack or a spirited run in the hills, and the Quattroporte now feels aged and bland when you put it in front of this new Panamera. With the new generation, Porsche has sharpened its knives and worked on everything that didn’t work for the previous model. It’s now got style, enough grunt to sham e some sports cars and practicality working for it.