Absurd. Ridiculous. Insane. Awesome. Weird. Pointless. These are all adjectives that can aptly describe the Panamera Turbo S. Journalists overuse the phrase “explosive acceleration,” but it is a completely accurate way to explain how this Porsche jumps off the line in Sport Plus mode. Thanks to the carbon-ceramic stoppers, braking is even more dramatic. Still, besides bragging rights, I see little point to owning this car in this speed-limited country. Seriously, who is going to drive a Panamera on a racetrack? I can think of countless better ways to spend $195K on a car(s). The Turbo S is notably lacking in the flashiness department, too, and certainly doesn’t look like it costs that much. It sure would be fun to take it to a drag strip, though!
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I drove the base model Panamera earlier this year and was truly blown away by everything that this car is and offers. Add the power of the Turbo S and you easily forget how heavy and large this car is. It’s a car that makes me long to be a 1-Percenter!
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
I couldn’t agree more with Rusty. Yes, this Panamera Turbo S is impressive by nearly every measure, but unless you take it to a track — a fairly ridiculous notion — there’s no remotely legal way to tap into even three-quarters of its capability. For daily use, it does a decent job of feeling small and tractable around town. I find the suspension a bit too firm though, and turning the dial to comfort doesn’t noticeably lessen the harshness.
I was shocked to find out that this car costs nearly $200,000. Its undeniably beautiful and well-crafted; the adaptive sport seats (a $1500 option) are possibly the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced in a vehicle and the gauges are extraordinarily crisp. It also has a presence that clearly conveys the fact that this is an expensive car. But unless, as Rusty mentioned, your goal is bragging rights, the base Panamera or one of its competitors will likely fulfill your needs just as well and possibly save you as much as $100 grand.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
Yeah, so this Panamera Turbo S is the epitome of excess. I don’t care, because it rocked my world the evening I drove it.
It felt amazing to get into the car. It looks so purposeful and I really like the driver controls in the center stack. The active spoiler just below the rear window rises at about 60 mph. When you come to a stop, it automatically goes down. You can slightly hear the little motors that raise it.
I took it to one of my favorite freeway connectors, an isolated stretch of road where you can accelerate a car very hard for a short distance before having to brake equally hard. Let’s just say I went very fast, very quickly, before nailing the brakes, which decelerated the Panamera like a fighter jet snagging the arrest wire on the deck of an aircraft carrier. I could have gone even faster on this road than I did, if I’d realized how good the brakes are. The car is very firm but I don’t find it harsh.
Out on the freeway, I was amazed by the Panamera’s grip when I launched into a long sweeping ramp from one freeway to another. Back on a two-lane road, in sport mode, I booted the throttle and got some nice power oversteer, despite all-wheel drive, before the stability control kicked in. Fun.
Absolutely phenomenal on my favorite twisty two-lane road, where there’s a particular heave in the pavement in a right-hand corner that unsettles the suspension of many cars. I’ve never seen a car straddle that big bump and dispense with it at high speed the way this Panamera did. It has phenomenal grip, stability, predictability, and steering accuracy. The grip, particularly, blows me away.
Later in the evening, I discovered that the Panamera also has a spectacular set of headlights, with an amazing high beam.
My only complaints? The brakes squeal annoyingly, and the car costs about $50K more than I expected. Big performance, big price.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
On first meeting, I folded myself into the Porsche Panamera Turbo S and puttered three miles to a burrito joint. No stomping on the gas, no sport mode, no paddle shifters. Then, I got out of the car, walked around back, and verified that the badge didn’t say “S Hybrid.” Panamera Turbo S. Huh. Sure steers like a hybrid, at least at speeds below 30 mph, where the wheel spins as freely as a tetherball. Some people in the Automobile Magazine office might accuse me of being an electric power steering apologist — a well-tuned system can perform better than traditional hydraulic power steering — but you won’t find me defending the steering in this Porsche.
Everything else performs with the fabulousness you’d expect of a $200,000 Porsche. The seven-speed dual-clutch swaps gears faster and more aggressively than the eight- and seven-speed automatics found among the competitive set. The twin-turbo, 550-hp V-8 is a steroid-addled rager in a sea of respected heavy hitters. The Panamera’s handling is remarkable for a car this large and this heavy. This range-topping Turbo S is also packed full of features that just seem wrong in a four-door, most notably the launch control that is so easily accessible you might just find yourself thinking about using it at the next red light. I resisted the urge and found a nice empty stretch of rural road, instead. It was brilliant. Asinine, but brilliant.
The Panamera is less fantastic at the things you expect of a big luxury sedan. Compared to a 7-series or an A8 or an S-class, entry and egress into a Panamera requires far more agility whether you’re getting into the front or the back. I do love the crisp, redundant navigation display housed in the instrument cluster, but the center stack is a daunting mess of buttons. However, when you consider the unique position the Panamera occupies in terms of unfathomable performance and reasonable practicality, the buyers who want a Porsche sedan can probably live with the few compromises it requires.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
It should come as no surprise that this car is fast – not only is it a Porsche, but it’s a Turbo S, so it’s more than capable of pumping up the adrenaline. The seven-speed PDK transmission snaps off shifts quickly and efficiently as the rpms rise and you try to use as much of the engine’s 550 hp as is legally possible. It should also not be too surprising that this is a very expensive car, coming in at just under $200K. But then again, when you’re one of the masters of the universe who can afford such things, it probably seems worth every penny. Not only can it give you that aforementioned rush of adrenaline, it will make you feel like a million bucks when you’re just tooling down the road. I still have a bit of a problem with all the buttons, knobs, and toggle switches on the center console, not because they’re poorly labeled or hard to decipher, but simply because there are so darn many of them. And the back seats are a little too cocoon-like for me, but the rear seat heaters are nice for a chilly fall day.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
MSRP (with destination): $174,175
PRICE AS TESTED: $194,665
4.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8
Horsepower (hp): 550 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 590 @ 2250 rpm
WHEELS AND TIRES:
20-inch aluminum wheels
255/40YR-20 Michelin Pilot Sport front tires
295/35YR-20 Michelin Pilot Sport rear tires
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
Cargo: 44.1 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 41.9/33.3 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.0/38.2 in
GT Silver metallic/black
Adaptive air suspension
Vented brake rotors w/6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rear calipers
Tire pressure monitoring system
Bi-Xenon cornering lights
Multifunction leather steering wheel
Bose surround sound audio system
Universal audio interface w/iPod connection
Automatic deck lid
Four 12V outlets
Heated front seats
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
GT Silver metallic paint- $3140
Adaptive sport seats- $1505
Ceramic brakes- $8840
Carbon interior package- $995
SportDesign package- $4160
Carbon fiber illuminated sill guard- $1850
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Claimed zero to 60 in 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 190 mph.