This particular Panamera test car strikes me as the lamest way you could possibly spend $99,000 on a new Porsche. First off, it's a base V-6 car, but when you add four-wheel drive and, worse yet, almost $20,000 worth of pricey options (most of them unrelated to the car's performance), you've got a pretty undesirable cocktail. I'd much rather spend that dough on a $65K Boxster S and a $34K Dodge Charger R/T, for instance.
Now, I can easily see the desirability of an all-wheel-drive Porsche sedan. I have two young kids, I live in Michigan, and I love hot cars. I just think that extra $19,335 would be better spent on a V-8 engine.
Of course, the fuel economy benefits of the V-6 are fairly significant -- 2 mpg both in the city and on the highway -- but I'd much rather have a Porsche that has phenomenal passing power. To the V-6 Panamera's credit, though, it's impressively quick off the line. The only problem is that the transmission won't start off in first gear if you're in Normal mode, and passing power is somewhat lacking. But once you're rolling, the Panamera 4 handles, drives, and steers extremely well.
Rear-seat space is very good -- I'm confident that four six-footers could be comfortable in this car. I'm only five-six, but I had tons of leg- and headroom when I sat behind myself. More important, there was plenty of room for my two kids and their bulky safety seats in the back, which wasn't possible in a Porsche car prior to the launch of the controversial Panamera (the Cayenne is not a car, no matter what Porsche says). Plus, we had room in the large trunk for two strollers (the double stroller was too long to fit) plus some packages from an outlet-mall visit.
This car turns a lot of heads, but I'm guessing it's more because of its rarity and weirdness than its simple beauty. Oh, by the way, has anybody else had the car alarm go off randomly in a Panamera? This car rudely woke me up at 2 am...
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor