Test Drive: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo

If memory servers me correctly, the 2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo I drove last year wasn’t exactly a slug. In fact, a Porsche-owner friend of mine, who sat in the back seat while I demonstrated launch control, speaks of those few discombobulating seconds with wide-eyed awe to this day.

But in the world of Porsche, where there isn’t an S on the deck lid, there will likely some day be, and that day has come for the Panamera Turbo. With a starting price of $198,100 (that’s $41,800 more than the “regular” turbo), this four-seat all-wheel-drive hatchback lays claim to being the world’s highest performing four-door vehicle, luxury or otherwise.

Central to the S’ boast is some tweaking of the 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8. It gets a 50 hp kick to 550 hp, and torque rises by 37 lb.-ft. to 553 lb.-ft., with a few seismic seconds of 590 lb.-ft. overboost thrown in just to, er, drive the point home. This newfound urge comes from increased boost pressure and a pair of turbos featuring 40 per cent lighter titanium-aluminum turbines that spool up quicker, delivering faster response.

Test Drive: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Click image to enlarge

Power reaches the four 20-inch tires (255/40 front, 295/35 rear) via Porsche’s excellent seven-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission and rear-biased all-wheel-drive.

Standard in the Turbo S is the Sports Chrono package with launch control, Porsche’s Dynamic Chassis Control active anti-sway system, Torque Vectoring Plus rear differential, sport exhaust and a sports steering wheel with large shift paddles.

All Porsche vehicles equipped with Sport Chrono (the dashtop chronometer is the giveaway) come with the magic Sport Plus button that puts the car in full attack mode. Throttle response sharpens, the PDK transmission adopts a more aggressive shift map and the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) switches to the firmer damper setting. It goes further in the S, with the air suspension bringing the body 25 mm closer to terra firma while the active stabilizer bars work harder to keep roll in check.

And what does this all mean? If you wish to throw your 1995-kg luxury sedan about like a sports car, the Panamera Turbo S does a remarkable job of acting like one. Porsche engineers evidently garner great joy in thumbing their noses at basic physics.

Test Drive: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Click image to enlarge

While the helm isn’t as talkative as a 911’s (how could it be?), the Servotronic speed-sensitive steering is still exemplary, and this car tucks into a corner with nary a push or wiggle. Hit the throttle mid corner and the continuously variable all-wheel drive and electronic do-hickies work in seamless unison. The Panamera Turbo S bites and bolts with a secure ferocity, and if provoked, the tail will gracefully step out thanks to that rear bias and a well-measured electronic stability control.

If the standard braking system with its 390 mm composite front discs clamped by six-piston calipers is not enough, Porsche offers ceramic binders with even larger discs (410 mm) for $10,090.

Power is delivered in a linear and apparently never-ending rush, with 100 km/h flashing by in a (conservatively) claimed 3.8 seconds. More tellingly, it needs just 2.6 seconds to close the 80 km/h to 120 km/h gap and 9.1 seconds to sprint from 100 km/h to 200 km/h. Activate the sport exhaust system and the exhaust note takes on a deeper and more authoritative tone.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).