There’s been so much noise about the new 2017 Porsche Panamera it’s almost deafening. We’ve ridden in the prototype, spoken to the test driver, and got the full lowdown on the new Turbo and 4S versions at the recent official unveiling. Information overload. To cut through the spin and make sense of the many acronyms, we’ve picked through every detail to get down to the stuff that really matters. So this is it, the cool stuff you need to know and should care about.
- It’s Not Ugly
There was a certain majestic confidence to the original Panamera. Big, bold, and bulbous, it had that infamous hunchback look necessitated by then Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking’s mild OCD about rear headroom. Designer Michael Mauer was forced to raise the roofline by 0.8 inches, and the resulting silhouette was distinctive but hardly beautiful. The all-new car finally realizes the vision of a sedan that strongly evokes the 911. In the metal (the panels are now all aluminium, as is the vast majority of the structure), its sheer scale is striking (198.8 inches long x 76.3 inches wide x 56.0 inches high) and though it doesn’t radiate elegance like an Aston Martin Rapide S, there’s a swagger and aggression that’s pure Porsche.
- It’s Fast — and Will Get Faster Still
The slowest 2017 Panamera at launch is the $101,040 4S. Powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, it produces 440-hp at 5,650 rpm and 405 lb-ft of torque between 1,750-5,500 rpm. With the optional Sport Chrono package, it hits 60 mph from zero in 4.0-seconds and can achieve 180 mph. The $147,950 Turbo is a monster, with a new and downsized 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 550-hp at 5,750 rpm and 567 lb-ft from 1,960-4,500 rpm. It’s capable of 190 mph and hits 60 mph along the way in just 3.4 seconds. We’ve always found these figures to be conservative, so don’t be surprised if it gets very close to 3.0-seconds dead when we finally test it ourselves. All Panameras now come with a new eight-speed PDK gearbox. They reach their top speeds in sixth, with seventh and eighth set for efficiency and refinement.
This is just the start. The Panamera Turbo S will up the ante to 600 hp — and there will be two further Hybrid models, both of which are performance variants. “There is room for a Turbo S plus the Hybrids,” says Gernot Döllner, who headed up the new Panamera project. Expect the fastest Hybrid to go well beyond the Turbo S, with 918 Spyder-levels of functionality and a Nürburgring time somewhere below a Carrera GT’s 7 minute, 28 second mark. Sources suggest it could develop as much as 700 hp and 800 lb-ft.
Supposing you don’t need a 200 mph sedan, there will also be an entry-level rear-drive model and then a more sports-focused Panamera GTS, though sadly it won’t feature the old normally aspirated 4.8-liter V-8 this time around.
- It’s a Real Drivers’ Car
Much was made of the 2017 Panamera’s split personality at the grand reveal, and there’s no question that pure luxury was a cornerstone of its development. Despite the 911-style roofline, there’s more room for rear passengers than ever and the 918-inspired infotainment aesthetic is truly beautiful. Yet the biggest smile amongst the various Porsche executives was reserved for questions about its dynamic ability. “Owners of the old car will be shocked at how direct the car is, how light it feels,” says Döllner. “You know it’s a big car, but you can’t believe it when you drive it.”
Much of that promised agility is provided by the new largely aluminium MSB platform that will also underpin future Bentleys, but also the systems that Porsche has applied to it—namely rear-wheel steering and the new electrically-powered Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control roll-control system. We’ve seen active anti-roll bars on the Panamera before, but previously they were hydraulically powered. The new PDCC is similar to the Bentley Dynamic Ride found on the Bentayga and utilizes a 48v electrical system to suppress body roll more quickly and with greater power. It’s lighter, too. With PDCC you also get PTV Plus—a torque-vectoring-by-braking system.
Lars Kern, the test driver who set that amazing 7:38.40 lap at the ’Ring, welcomes the technology. “You jump in and feel comfortable and you know the car is exactly doing what you want,” he begins. “That’s the key part. We also have some things that help you, some systems. For example, rear active steering. It’s such a big car that this is important for areas such as Hatzenbach (a complex series of lefts and rights near the very beginning of the lap). There the car is really strong. The rear-steer really rotates the car but not over-rotates. It’s exactly the way you want.”
- The Long Wheelbase is Coming.
During our tour of the new production line at Porsche’s Leipzig factory, a little surprise was presented. Under the dazzling LED lighting of the “Quality Workshop” sat an unpainted Panamera body shell and chassis, every shutline measured and logged with the panel gaps marked in black pen every six inches or so all over the car. While the Porsche presentation focused on the near perfectly uniform 0.5-mm gaps recorded, the assembled journalists focused on the bigger picture. The much bigger picture. This was a long wheelbase car and even had a “LWB” designation plate inside. Porsche isn’t forthcoming with the exact dimensions, but the last stretched Panamera was 5.9-inches longer, so expect a similar increase.
- It’s the Fastest Diesel in the World…Except the U.S.
The 2017 Panamera 4S Diesel, like the petrol-powered Turbo, features a 4.0-liter V-8 engine with two turbochargers mounted within the Vee. It produces 422 hp between 3,500-5,000rpm and 627 lb-ft from 1,000-3,250rpm. Unlike the gasoline models, the 4S Diesel diverts all of its exhaust gas to one turbo at lower engine speeds to improve response. The second turbocharger (both feature variable vane technology from the 991 Turbo) comes on-stream at 2,700 rpm. This trick to improve response will also be seen in the Bugatti Chiron—with two turbochargers doing the work at lower engine speeds and all four as engine speed increases.
The Panamera 4S Diesel covers the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.1-seconds with the Sport Chrono package (which includes launch control) and doesn’t stop accelerating until 177 mph. It’s also around 35-percent more fuel efficient than the Turbo, according to European test cycles. Sadly, Porsche does not plan to bring the 4S Diesel to the U.S.
- You’ll Tick a Lot of Boxes Building the Ultimate Panamera
Want a Panamera Turbo that can get around the ’Ring in 7:38.40 even though you’ll never drive it anywhere near a circuit? Of course you do. So, let’s start with the $147,950 base car. Now add the 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheel option at $3,630. That didn’t hurt too much. You’ll also need the Sports Package to get rear-wheel steering; it comes as a package with the variable assistance Power Steering Plus system, which is pretty nasty on a 911, so let’s hope it’s a more consistent setup for the Panamera. Also, you’ll need the Sport Chrono package and launch control. That comes in at $5,580. Then we’re going to need carbon-ceramic brakes. They reduce unsprung weight to help over the curbs and also reduce rotational forces, helping with acceleration and braking. That’s another $8,960, taking the total to $166,120.
Now we run into a problem. A crucial component of that ’Ring record car is the new 48v Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system. Only you can’t get it. Not yet anyway. It’s not on the configurator and will be phased in over time. The old PDCC system was a $5,000 option on the Panamera (and came with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus) so it’s hard to know how this will shake out. It’s a complex and highly sophisticated system, so let’s assume it’ll still add $5,000 or so to the Panamera Turbo’s sticker price. We’re up to $171,120. That’s before you decide Carmine Red paint looks good (it does) and that another $3,300 won’t break the bank. Two-tone leather at $530 is almost free, right? And Adaptive Sports seats look good at $1,540, the heated steering wheel is a must at $790, and who could live without the Burmester Surround Sound system at $5,390? You get the picture.