Test Drive: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS. Click image to enlarge

When you fire the V8 up, it barks to life with a sphincter-clenching snarl that eventually settles down to a delicious rumble. It isn’t shy when you step on the gas either – this thing gets a lot of attention because of the awesome noises it makes.

Power is plentiful – it can sprint from 0–100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. There’s no lag, no hesitation from standstill and it’s very satisfying to drive. Even at highway speeds, you’ll get hurtled in the right direction very quickly, and attaining ludicrous speeds is done with ease. Need more speeding tickets? The GTS will top out at 288 km/h (179 mph).

The transmission is Porsche’s incredible dual-clutch PDK unit. It’s a wonderfully smooth, efficient autobox. It’s intelligent and adaptable to your driving style. You can manually shift gears (faster than you can say schnitzel) with the gear selector or with steering wheel–mounted paddles.

The all-wheel-drive system is invisible until you need it. I drove the Panamera during one of Edmonton’s many snowy weeks, and the traction was fantastic – grippy when you need it, allowing you to steer with the tail when you want to.

Test Drive: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS. Click image to enlarge

When the time comes to haul things down again, the massive brakes are very powerful, perfectly linear and easy to modulate.

Visibility out of the Panamera is so-so. The front and the side views are excellent, but shoulder checking is hampered by the enormous, sweeping rear pillars and the rear view is quite constricted.

Pedal placement? It’s perfect, and so is the dead pedal.

The Panamera’s interior is a different take on things. Don’t expect something that competes with other luxo-sedans out there. Nothing here looks or feels conventional. Check out Porsche’s elevated console for proof.

The seats (heated, infinitely adjustable, with two memory settings) are comfortable and very well bolstered, leaning far toward sport. Materials are top notch throughout – virtually everything is upholstered in leather or Alcantara, with plenty of stitching wherever your eye falls. Fit and finish are amazing, and everything felt rock solid.

Test Drive: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS. Click image to enlarge

I have long maintained that Porsche has the best steering wheels – this is no exception. Perfect rim thickness, perfect diameter, power-adjustable, clad in Alcantara, and with no buttons. That may irritate some, while others argue that it contributes to the driver’s focus on the road. Behind the wheel sits a large centre tach, flanked by a speedo, a multi-function display and a couple of smaller ancillary gauges.

Porsche stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the need for cupholders and, frankly, the ones you do get are terrible. Speaking of stubbornness, Porsche’s complete disregard for ergonomics continues here, too. The centre console, the centre stack and the driver’s door panel are chock full of look-alike labeled buttons. There’s no way you’re using any of them without taking your eyes off the road.

The touchscreen at the top of the stack manages a number of functions. It works well and responds quickly, but the user interface isn’t the best. There’s no dedicated input knob/joystick/thingie and no hands-free function. Oh, did you want a back-up camera for your $148,000? Sorry, not optioned on this car. It does have front and rear parking sensors that beep and you see an outline of your car on the screen with hot zones that are about to scuff up your $3,600 paint job.

The Bose stereo system sounds very good, but if you can afford it (and who couldn’t if they’re buying a Panamera?) get the optional Burmeister system – it is simply a revelation.




About Tom Sedens

Tom Sedens is an Edmonton-based automobile journalist, husband, dad and driving enthusiast, as well as an accredited member of AJAC.