Porsche makes some of the greatest cars in the world. The 911 is an icon for all sports cars to follow. The Boxster and Cayman show that the formula can be adapted for a newer generation. The Cayenne demonstrates that Porsche can do SUVs very well, which lead to the recent introduction of the smaller Macan. Lastly, the Panamera is a testament that Porsche can make a four-door flagship car without compromising the core values of the brand.
Today, Porsche has diversified into a full line of prestigious automobiles that excite the senses and the soul. Yet, there is always one focus with the brand – the 911. All others must follow from that point forward. Indeed, Porsche makes very special vehicles.
In this business, there is a rule to be followed whenever the Porsche name is mentioned. When they call, it is always something rather special and worth attending.
Recently, CARFAX was invited to a Porsche event near Minneapolis. We joined in a cruise along with viral video star and classic Porsche fan Magnus Walker. For our participation in the cruise, we were given the keys to a 2015 Porsche Panamera 4S. That is, we drove it in the cruise and took it home that night.
With that caveat, we can tell you all about the Panamera. Here are our thoughts on Porsche’s flagship four-door.
First off, the 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in the 4S is fantastic. It has balanced power that matches well with the seven-speed automated manual (PDK) transmission and an all-wheel drive system. There are plenty of options for power with the Panamera, ranging from a standard 310-horsepower V6, a 440-horsepower V8, two twin-turbocharged V8s with up to 570 horsepower and a plug-in hybrid. The PDK transmission is the only choice across the lineup, yet depending on which model is selected, the Panamera is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
The cabin is really made for the driver and front passenger. There is plenty of room for them as they enjoy the drive. Yet, rear-seat passengers would be left disappointed. There is a solution where some Panamera models offer a long-wheelbase “Executive” version. These versions offer fantastic space for many shapes of bodies and their own controls for climate, audio and privacy in the rear seats. Though the Panamera was originally conceived as a performance flagship sedan, it could also be the fastest limousine around.
The exterior shape had been a point of discussion among enthusiast and the automotive media alike. Though it looks like an enlarged version of the iconic 911, critics had a field day with how “large” and “ugly” it turned out. The fact that it looks like a 911 makes it just as iconic as the sports car itself. This is what Porsche envisioned their four-door flagship, even with the engine mounted up front and a hatchback for cargo access in the rear. When compared with its direct competitors – namely the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS – the Panamera’s design makes it stand out in a crowd.
What the Panamera offers above all else is a great Porsche experience. Porsche is the key word here, with a cabin that gives the driver the feeling of being in a 911 with a couple of extra doors and a hatchback. Yet, it is a Porsche, and its performance meets the expectations of the brand. A few adjustments to the drive modes and the Panamera turns into an excellent grand tourer. Though our Panamera 4S tips the scale at 4,123 pounds, it is absolutely agile and loves to devour roads in its wake. It also does not mind being in the city, especially when everyone is looking at you when you are heading across town for dinner.
One thing to note is the price of the Panamera. A standard Panamera with the base V6 and rear-wheel drive starts at $78,100. The 4S model carries a base price of $98,300, and our test Panamera 4S had a sticker price at almost $114,000. For reference, the top of the line Panamera Turbo S Executive has a base price of $209,500 and the Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in model starts at $96,100.
Our tip to prospective Porsche buyers: Be prepared for sticker shock. Porsches are not made on a standard specification, but rather to be tailored to their owners. Expect to add somewhere between $12,000 and $25,000 in options to your final price. Rather than looking at value, consider the cost of buying and owning a Porsche as an investment in the unconditional love of the automobile.
The Porsche Panamera offers an experience unlike the many vehicles we drive for this site. It stands out in a crowd and stirs the soul. Just like the 911, the Panamera is truly a Porsche worth owning.