The cabin’s 2+2 configuration carries over, and actually offers more room than the outgoing model, despite the lower roofline. Cargo space increases from 445 L to 495, and from 1262 to 1304 with the split 40/20/40 seats folded down. But even more important is the increase in sophistication. Across the industry, there’s a heightened demand for new technology, and nowhere is it more important than in the premium segment. Safety features are expected as due course – but at this level the technology’s got to dazzle. The previous Panamera fell far behind competitors like Audi, and their Virtual Cockpit’s massive, high-resolution displays. Porsche’s new “Advanced Cockpit” features two 7-inch displays within the instrumentation binnacle, and a 12.3-inch screen embedded in the centre console. There’s an impressive on-board suite of safety features, including Night Vision, and “InnoDrive” adaptive cruise control, which uses navigation data to calculate optimum speed, braking and shift patterns three kilometres in advance.
Like the original, the new Panamera’s cockpit is bisected, private jet-like, by a bank of switchgear. However, the swath of hard buttons has been replaced by a sleek, modern touch surface. While certainly a clean, uncluttered design, like most of its ilk, this sort of interface can be overly sensitive, and marks easily with fingerprints. The familiar aluminum gear selector has been replaced with one that’s a little too similar in both style and function to BMW’s much-maligned auto shifter.
We’ll only be getting two models for now – the Panamera 4 S and Panamera Turbo – with a hybrid later to come. Europeans will also receive a diesel. The two engines, a 440 hp twin-turbo V6 and 550 hp twin-turbo V8, have been reworked for more power and better efficiency. Both come with the latest version of Porsche’s eight-speed PDK transmission and both are all-wheel drive.
Most of the first day was spent in a Panamera 4S, fighting our way through Munich traffic, and eventually into narrow, meandering village roads. The 4S certainly had power enough over Bundestrasse and alpine roads. Outfitted with the optional Sport Package (which comes standard on the Turbo), the 4S was deliciously supple, quiet and comported itself well enough that you’d almost wonder why anyone would choose to spend an extra $50,000-plus for a Turbo.
However, the Turbo’s V8 snarls to life with an urgency that makes the 4S seem laid-back by comparison. The Panamera’s a luxury car, but it’s a Porsche first and foremost with a performance legacy to uphold. Even those who’ve never considered the Panamera to be a real Porsche should be impressed with its blistering 7:38 lap time around the notorious Nürburgring – a class record only recently topped by the Alfa Romeo Guilia’s 7:32.