EL SEGUNDO, California — It took some thinking to figure out what the most sensible use case is for the 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive, the most luxurious long-wheelbase variant of Porsche’s second-generation uber-liftback. Then it dawned on me—this is possibly the best VIP getaway car ever made.
This isn’t because the Panamera Turbo Executive is particularly light, on the contrary. At 4,630 pounds, it’s just slightly trimmer than a BMW 750Li, though it does undercut its more direct Germanic competition such as the BMW M760i and Mercedes-Maybach S650 by roughly 500 pounds. Instead, its agility is largely due to the wizardry of Porsche’s chassis and suspension engineering teams. If the chauffer is ever forced to make an Executive the star of an impromptu chase scene with a VIP strapped into its plush back seat, it’s reassuring to know that said VIP probably won’t heave their Michelin-star lunch all over the finely stitched leather.
Key to the Panamera Executive model is its wheelbase stretch, which extends the second-gen Panamera’s fundamentally stout chassis by 5.9 inches. Though Porsche doesn’t officially specify the amount of extra rear seat legroom the Executive enjoys over the base model, nobody south of 6-feet 6-inches will have any issues stretching out back there. Headroom starts to get tight though once you breach the 6-foot vertical mark.
The list of standard goodies as standard equipment for the Executive that are optional on garden variety Panameras, including rear-wheel steering, active air suspension, multi-way adjustable heated front and rear seats, four-zone climate control, LED headlights, soft-close doors, and a retractable rear sunshade. You also get Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and a large panoramic roof, which are standard across the entire lineup.
Not impressed yet? The Night Blue Metallic example we sampled was maxed out with the $3,400 sport exhaust, $8,960 ceramic composite brakes, the $5,000 Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport package, $2,530 Sport Chrono package, and $2,440 21-inch wheels. Add the powertrain from the Panamera Turbo—namely Porsche’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 (good for 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque), quick-shifting PDK eight-speed, and standard all-wheel drive—and you’ve got quite the potent package. (It carries a potent price, too, but no proper VIP would bat an eye at a $191,480 as-tested sticker.)
As you can probably imagine, having that much grip-oriented gear on board doesn’t exactly do wonders for interior noise levels. Tire noise is particularly pronounced at times, unsurprising given the thin-sidewall performance tires. If you need a quiet VIP commute, you’re probably better off with the likes of a Bentley Flying Spur instead.
Somewhat surprising though is the relatively limited amount of VIP-level creature comforts in the rear passenger area. While the seats are well-appointed and supportive and come with the requisite climate controls, they’re basically sport buckets, not sumptuous cushions with built-in ottomans. Of course, the VIP will be thankful for those bolsters should the driver ever need to pull an emergency J-turn in an attempt to evade a pursuing column of black G-Wagens. Just make sure the chauffer has the right amount of racing experience—and we’re not talking the Nelson Piquet Jr. in Formula 1 kind, either.
While the paparazzi (or Slavic debt collectors as the case may be) will never be able to catch you, outside of this extremely narrow use case, the Turbo Executive is the silliest variant of the Panamera. We get why they made it, but to us, any Porsche that’s primarily made to be driven in defeats the whole point, let alone a 550-hp Turbo variant.
The “regular” Panamera Turbo is a far more sensible option if you’re not keen on the versatile Sport Turismo. And if you must have the extra legroom and it must be a Panamera, the less-aggressive 4S variant is probably the way to go. It won’t be quite as good as the Executive would be as a Jason Bourne film co-star, but at least it’s a better answer to the question: “Why though?”
2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive Specifications
|PRICE||$161,050 (base), $191,480 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/550 hp @ 5,750-6,000 rpm, 567 lb-ft @ 1,960-4,500 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/25 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||204.7 x 76.3 x 56.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||190 mph|