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

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

Having driven every iteration of the Porsche Panamera available in our market, I was somewhat skeptical when approaching the $126,700 2013 Panamera GTS. Could Porsche really create another version of this contentiously humpbacked executive hatchback that’s meaningfully different enough from the others to warrant yet another badge?

Turns out they did, and it also turns out to be my favourite. And no, I wasn’t completely swayed by the $3,590 Camine Red paint and badass $3,860 black 20-inch alloys. Okay, maybe just a little….

Zuffenhausen has managed to inject an extra dose of “Porsche-ness” into the GTS—it offers a sharper, more immediate driving experience than that of its stable mates. More like a true Porsche sports car, this lengthy saloon shows a genuine appetite for a twisty road or an open on ramp, and the naturally aspirated 430-hp 4.8L V8 delivers a visceral bark and quick throttle response that the freakishly ballistic $200,300 550-hp Panamera Turbo S can’t.

And with a 0 to 100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, the GTS is still plenty swift.

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

The GTS is closest to the Panamera 4S in that it shares its all-wheel drive and V8 engine, although different cams and valve springs and a revised intake system raise the horse count by 30, to 430 hp. It generates 384 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm.

The GTS’ seven-speed PDK twin-clutch tranny gets is own mapping, as does the stability control. Bigger front brakes from the Panamera Turbo assist in slowing this 1,928 kg car.

The pièce de résistance is the standard active sport exhaust system that is tuned specifically for the GTS. Ensure this is activated at all times. It barks, burbles, and howls in the most spectacular fashion, and on start up a nice little throttle blip is programmed in, so you always sound like a bit of a greaseball even when you’re not trying. With the auto start/stop function activated, the GTS calling card is continually turning heads. Fantastic.

The price of the GTS includes stuff seen on the 4S option list, such as Sports Chrono Package and adaptive anti-roll bars. A revised front facsia, black window and headlight surrounds, GTS sill plates, and GTS embroidered seats round out the package.

At the risk of having our loyal readers coughing into their Corn Flakes, the GTS represents good value considering that kitting out a regular 4S close to these specs would be more expensive.

As with all Panameras, the driving position is more 911 than Mercedes S-Class. You sit low, the controls are well placed and a big tachometer with the all-important digital speedometer is front and centre.

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

As with just about every Porsche that has come my way, this 2013 GTS was festooned with a whack of expensive options and upgrades.

The carbon interior package ($2,280) was layered on the $3,940 GTS Interior Package. The Alcantara sport seats and firm and grippy—no question as to the mission statement of this car. There was also an Alcantara sport steering wheel ($340), heat for the rear seats ($610), a brushed aluminum PDK gear selector ($850) and a very good Bose audio upgrade ($1,650). Porsche will also charge you for Sirius ($860) and front and rear park assist ($690). And why the latter system is cheaper than a satellite tuner is a question only those product planners with the riotous funny-bones in Zuffenhausen can answer.

For such a long and heavy car, the GTS is remarkably agile. Tuck it into a bend and there is essentially zero body roll. It plants itself and takes a set instantly, and with the well-tuned rear-biased all-wheel drive working in your favour, the GTS feels unflappable when laying into the power. And of course that omnipresent soundtrack only eggs you on.

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

The only niggle is the uncommunicative helm that lacks the tactile feedback of a 911 or Boxster. And yes, the latest versions of the 911 and Boxster now have slightly less detailed electrically assisted steering (versus the less-efficient hydraulic setup), but it’s still damn good.

The adaptive damper system (PASM) does a good job of smoothing out the ride, although those seeking S-Class levels of compliance in their luxury cars will look elsewhere, like at an S-Class. This is a sport sedan, with the emphasis on sport.

While the oddly bulbous hindquarters are an ongoing point of contention, the commodious twin rear seats and large cargo space with said seats folded makes the Panamera a very useful contraption. I loaded a full complement of musical gear into it, including an upright bass, and on another occasion I tossed in my mountain bike.

So if you need to justify spending 150 large on this Porsche, tell yourself it’s a practical five-door family hatchback.

2013 Porsche Panamera GTS
Base price: $126,700
Optional equipment: Carmine Red $3,590; GTS interior package $3,940; rear heated seats $610; front and rear park assist $690; Bose surround sound $1,650; Sirius/XM tuner $860; carbon interior package $2,280; SportDesign Alcantara steering wheel $340; SportDesign side skirts $1,590; 20-inch Panamera Sport Wheels $3,860; brushed aluminum gear selector $850
A/C tax: $100
Destination charge: $1,115
Price as tested: $148,175




About Peter

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