2010 Porsche Panamera S

I sometimes pick up my buddy Jim at his house on Monday evenings and drive him to a core-training class we've been taking. One time recently, I picked him up in a Jeep Compass. As the owner of a first-generation Volkswagen R32 and an Audi A4 Avant, he was not impressed. So you can imagine his delight when I pulled to his curb in this topaz brown metallic Porsche Panamera. He leaped into the front passenger's seat and said, "Now THIS is more like it!"

After core training, we took the long way home on the freeway ring around Ann Arbor. I burst onto US-23 just as a Nissan 370Z coupe was coming by; its owner was clearly very intrigued to see a Panamera, which is still a very rare sight here in Michigan.

Say what you will about whether Porsche should be building a four-door hatchback sedan or a four-door vehicle of any sort, and say what you will about the Panamera's styling, which has come in for a great amount of criticism, but it's hard to find fault with this car dynamically. Throttle response, chassis reflexes, and steering sharpness are all simply amazing for a two-ton luxury barge that seats four in splendor. The engine and exhaust sound fabulous but are not overbearing. We had "only" the 400-hp, normally aspirated V-8 engine; the Panamera Turbo model is, of course, that much more impressive from behind the wheel.

I'm not one to say that the Panamera is beautiful, but I don't find it "ugly," either. I think it has real presence on the road, and I especially like the color combination of our press car, with the metallic brown paint over a full-leather beige interior. Scrumptious.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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