The New Porsche Panamera: 5 Things to Know
What iconic supercar did this executive sedan just beat around the Nürburgring?
The Drive staff writer Ben Keeshin joined Porsche in Germany for the first drive of the 2017 Porsche Panamera. Here are his thoughts on the new, sexier version of the brand's four-door executive sedan.
For a company staffed with hundreds of austere Swabians, Porsche sure loves a spectacle. Last Tuesday in Berlin, at approximately 8 PM in a stylish warehouse whose walls were just cleaned of last weekend’s powders, Porsche put together the worldwide unveiling of the second generation Porsche Panamera, complete with lights, multiple cameras, and enough acrobatic action to wilt the peaks of an Austro-Hungarian court jester’s cap. With the world’s press sitting on risers in a kind of post-industrial amphitheater, Porsche fixed a spotlight on a crumpled white handkerchief on a stage. Then, one of the tumblers tumbled in and threw the hanky at a large screen, where it ballooned to the size of a picnic table, uncrumpled, and read: COURAGE. Then: Breakdancers, followed by the entirety of Berlin’s young male acting population, dressed as stylish yuppies. Then: 22 blue spotlights, writhing in front of stock footage of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ultimately: two new Porsche Panameras rolling in, looking newly taught and finally handsome.
All that flash illuminates a truth about Porsche’s sedan, which heretofore suffered barbs like “ungainly,” usually reserved for a sweet but frumpy cousin. It’s a big deal. Along with the Cayenne and Macan, the Panamera provides the butter in Porsche’s firm financial base, atop which rests the more fanciful custards: Cayman GT4s, Porsche 911 Rs, and the steroidal, hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder. Beyond being an excellent sporting executive sedan in its own right, it’s a major pillar of Porsche’s economic plan. Since 2009, over 150,000 have been sold, and sales have been especially strong in China and the US—two markets that comprise 50 percent of all Porsche sales. As such, the company’s hasn’t messed around. Here are five things to know about the all-new Panamera; really, five reasons why it will succeed, building that sturdy shortbread infrastructure for the two-door confections that actually end up on adolescents’ walls.
1. The new Porsche Panamera Turbo beat the 997-era 911 GT3 around the Nürburgring.
Beside the two hyper-shiny Panameras on the main stage was a much grungier car, shunted to the side and speckled with bug flesh. But it’s no stepchild. That car was a camouflaged Panamera Turbo that ran the Nordschleife in a staggering 7 minutes, 38.4 seconds. For context, Porsche noted that that number is almost 2 seconds faster than what the venerable 997 911 GT3 did around the same circuit. Perhaps in the very hopes that nerdy auto journos would do their own research, Porsche failed to mention that such a feat puts the large sedan ahead of Lexus’ purpose-built (non-"Nüruburgring Package") LFA sports car and the Bugatti Veyron. Yikes.
2. The new Porsche Panamera Diesel has 662 lb-feet of torque and will get 35 MPG on the highway.
While the old car used a modified three-liter Audi diesel motor—a great lump in its own right—the new car will receive a much burlier piece: a four-liter biturbo V-8 diesel, good for 422 horsepower and 626 lb-ft of torque. (For the CFO who pulls out oak stumps on weekends?) With all that torque, a Sport Chrono-equipped Panamera Diesel will get to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, reach a 177-mph top speed, and achieve an almost-fictitious 35 mpg on the highway. Like much of the world’s magical population—druids, leprechauns, wheels of truly flavorful burrata—the Panamera Diesel will not come to North America, so we’ll never be able to test those numbers.
3. The new Porsche Panamera is legitimately sexy.
The old Panamera had its apologists and hipster fans, me among them. Sure, it has kinks and lumps and the stance of a shitting dog—but it's striking! The new car is also striking, while fixing the old model’s profile and general blobbiness. The roof is 20 millimeters lower and has been reshaped, now looking like an iteration of the 911, not a perversion of that silhouette. The wheelbase is elongated and the front wheels moved forward, improving stance. Around back, a hard crease again mimics the 911 while a full-length light bar stolen from the 911 C4S further aids visual sleekness. Is it as beautiful as an Aston Martin Rapide? No, but it's closer than ever.
4. The new Porsche Panamera has the coolest wing in the world.
Okay, so this not strictly a new feature, but it remains noteworthy. While Lamborghinis and Subaru Imprezas and Porsche’s own GT-family sport vertiginous fixed wings, the Panamera plays it cool with a completely hidden number that, at speed, rises and unfurls into a menacing pinion. It’s captivating to the extent that many an owner has sat in his garage, raising and lowering, and missing the beginning of dinner.
5. You won’t get a new Panamera for under $100k.
While it’s been the case for years that it's virtually impossible to buy a new Porsche 911 for under a hundred grand, the current base Panamera goes for a decent $78,200 to start. When the new Panamera launches in January of 2017, it will list for $101,400 after delivery. That’s bone bare, without the sparkly wheels, dynamic headlights, or adaptive suspension that make the Panamera experience extra special. The Panamera Turbo? $147,950. That’s the price of a lightly-used Bentley Continental Flying Spur. But then, the Bentley’s a heap slower.
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