Test Drive: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s Website
Porsche Canada

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

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2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

Oh sure, the purists have already slung their barbs into the air. “Sacrilege.” “Blasphemy.”

You name it, the poor Panamera has heard it.

Mind you, the Cayenne heard it all first. Those lucky purists seem to have endless fodder for their mutterings, huddled around the slotted hoods of their air-cooled 911s for warmth.

But hey, those old 911s and the new ones, which, on paper and on the road, are simply a triumph, cost a fortune to continue to develop. Making something continuously more awesome isn’t cheap. What finances the research and the racing programs that funnel their lessons and technology down into those 911s? Well, the profits from the Cayenne and the Panamera for starters.

The Panamera is no cheap date. The V6 model starts at $87,500. The Panamera GTS, optioned as I drove it, comes in at a spittle-stopping $148,175. A-hem.

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

Let’s see what you get for your hard-earned or easily inherited dollars.

The styling of the Panamera has certainly caught some flak. Love it or hate it? Nah. The Panamera has so many different angles that you could be loving it from one side, and hating it from the next.

I love it, almost from every angle. It’s a low-slung car. The shape is unmistakably Porsche. It’s surprisingly big and wide, and those rear flanks get even wider, calling for an XL set of lederhosen.

Sitting on top of that is a large glass cabin, with a brilliant rear side window. The curve in it fools the eye, and actually oversteps the rear door edge, which makes it easy to focus on the greenhouse instead of the fact that it’s a four door. The sloped nose is all Porsche, and the rear end, although a bit of a bubble butt, yodels its 911 lineage loud and proud.

The fenders are filled with (optional) 20-inch black rims and enormous rubber boots.

In terms of its styling, this schnitzel happily sets itself apart from the rest of the automotive world with its styling and says, “Take it or leave it.”

The GTS comes with Porsche’s lovely 4.8L V8, putting out 430 naturally aspirated horsepower at 6,700 RPM. Torque is nothing to sneeze at either – 384 lb-ft of it are available at 3,500 RPM.

The Panamera GTS is rated at 11.1 L/100 km in the city, and 8.5 L/100 km on the highway.

The fuel tank holds 100 L, which is nice considering I averaged 15.8 L/100 km during my week with it – plenty of fresh snow, often driving it hard and never making an effort to conserve fuel.

The Panamera simply, and seemingly miraculously at times, overcomes the laws of physics. It’s a heavy bratwurst – 1,920 kg (4,232 lb.)! It’s a big, wide car. Yet, the faster you drive it and the harder you push it, the better it gets. Cruising around town is a clinic in comfort. The suspension soaks up big and small hits alike – nothing makes its way through to the cabin. Handling is very good, and although it feels heavy, it leaves you surprised any time you push it. Want to spice things up? Dial in the suspension and drive settings. Sport and Sport Plus modes stiffen things up noticeably, keep the car even flatter around corners and hold the shift points as long as the transmission thinks you want them to be held. You’ll pay for it with slightly reduced comfort, but this car will carve a canyon road any time you want.

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.

I was taken off guard by the roominess in the rear seats – headroom and legroom are exemplary. There are two very comfortable, heated and well-bolstered bucket seats, They’re separated by a narrow console where you’ll find a small storage bin.

Somehow, and this is hard to explain, it feels as though sitting in the back of the Panamera involves you in the driving experience. It sounds nebulous, but try it sometime and see for yourself.

My kids were very happy in the back – well, two of them were. I was happy that I never had to take all three. One time when I did, the trunk worked well for that.

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

Speaking of the trunk, the cargo space beneath the enormous rear hatch isn’t negligible at 445 L, but it’s not huge either. Should you need more, you can easily flip the rear seats down, and you’re looking at 1,263 L of room.

How seriously do the Germans take their smoking? You get an ashtray and a cigarette lighter in the front, and an ashtray in each rear door. Smoke it up, Hans!

Porsche is a brand that speaks volumes. It means a lot of things to a lot of people. Once you’ve driven one – ANY Porsche – you simply can’t argue with its ability to transcend so much of what seems to hold mortal vehicles back. Porsche is somehow able to infuse even large sedans with a sense of sport, a nod to their heritage, and an ability to make you smile.

The Panamera GTS is a premium sedan that brings individual styling to the table and adds incredible performance to superb creature comforts. Stability at any speed is a given. I can’t imagine anyone taking a Panamera for a drive, be it a luxurious jaunt or a hot lap, and stepping out of it to tell you it wasn’t good. Because it is. It is a great car.

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

Would I buy this car? For this money, probably not. You could buy a nice 911 and a nice SUV for this price, and get the best of both worlds. But people considering a Panamera GTS aren’t weighing those options. This is the car they want.

WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was out of this world. She absolutely loved the Panamera. She loved the styling. She loved how it felt inside. She loved the ride. She loved the trunk. She loved that it was a Porsche. She loved the looks she got from soccer moms. She hated when I kicked her out.

I loved the feeling of exclusivity I got when I stepped into the Panamera. I loved that many things feel as though Porsche needs to go above and beyond. Not because they want to beat out the competition. But because it is who they are. An example? How about the nine (9!) windshield washer nozzles?

I loved driving the Panamera. I loved the looks it got from knowing enthusiasts, from uninformed but curious and appreciative onlookers and even the head-shakes from a couple of crusty Porsche air-cooled hardliners who probably felt that I was riding the Carmine Red horse of the Auto-pocalypse.

Fear not, hardliners. This isn’t the end.

This is a showcase of what Porsche can do. And it is good.

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

Pricing: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS
Base price (of specific trim): $126,700
Options: $3,590 Carmine Red Paint, $3940 Carmine Interior Package, $610 rear heated seats, $690 ParkAssist, $1650 BOSE system, $860 satellite radio, $2280 carbon interior, $340 SportDesign steering wheel, $1590 SportDesign painted side skirts, $3860 Sport Wheels, $850 brushed aluminum gear selector
Freight: $1,115
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $148,175

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)




About Tom Sedens

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