April 22, 2010
2010 Porsche Panamera S. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Michael Clark
2010 Porsche Panamera
Before Pong, when Commodore was the name of a band and not 64 kilobytes, there was the plastic model section of the neighborhood department store. Scratch that – the plastic model aisle. I would scrape together all manner of allowance, even hug the most fragrant of relatives for a nickel towards my fix. There were the traditional hot rods, muscle cars, even some left-over insanity from the house of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth. Speaking of insanity, I still recall my look of confusion, in the reflective cellophane that covered a four-door Chevy Corvette, in 1/24th scale. Like most 10 year-olds, I still thought that a Corvette was cool, and that messing with one, outside of the factory option list, was the definition of sacrilege.
Fast forward to 2010: the aisle is gone, reduced to a few kits that must be thrown in as filler for the Playstation and X-Box peripherals. The Corvette is still a two-door. And Porsche has a five-door that isn’t a Cayenne. Meet the Panamera, a four-seater Porsche that doesn’t require your rear passengers to be pre-folded before entry. The Panamera S carries an MSRP of $115,100, while this week’s tester bumps that up to $135,520. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.)
Moving from left to right, we begin with an electro-parking brake actuator, headlamp switch with Auto setting, and the traditional Porsche keypoint. Strangely absent is the power tilt/telescope column, positioned through a manual lever. The best $290 you’ll ever spend appears as a switch on the backside of the vertical spoke of the steering wheel, which engages the heat for the three-spoker.
2010 Porsche Panamera S. Click image to enlarge
The wheel is 911-flavoured, with the push/pull shift actuators for the seven-speed PDK transmission, and trackwheel-style controls for audio and driver information access. The Bluetooth phone interface is a $950 option, which includes the steering wheel actuator keys. Strange; this Porsche Communication Management system doesn’t have a voice command module (early production?) Stranger still is that there is no information in the configurator speaking to a special option requirement for the voice module. The PDF brochure speaks of the system as an option. Help!
The gauge pod is the familiar Porsche layout, with a driver’s information screen that can literally shift the display from the PCM to the gauge pod. The centre tunnel switch array borders on sculpture. HVAC is dual zone, with considerable tailoring available for the front passenger. Sport mode, damper adjustment, and stability management shutdown are kept close to the driver. The rear spoiler can be raised electrically from this switch bank, or simply wait until the velocity of the Panamera raises it automatically.
The detail of the Navi screen is stunning, with touch-screen look-up for point-of-interest entries. There are numerous features which can be tailored from the driver’s information screen, such as the percentage of brightness for the ambient lighting, and whether or not you prefer the windshield wipers to sweep in concert with the rain sensor. The driver’s door pod houses full-auto window lifts, hatch release, and an electro-child door lock for the rear doors. The power exterior mirrors use a power-fold switch. When positioning the mirrors, the mirror selection keys light up when active for the specific mirror toggle, then dim automatically. The driver’s seating position gets two memory switches.
Both driver and front passenger doors are equipped with tip-out door pockets. Note the cell phone-sized flock-lined pocket on the passenger side, below the power window switch. The rear doors use fixed pockets, and push-release upper ashtray compartments, because nothing smells better on your $7,040 Espresso Natural Leather and $2,720 Alcantara Roofliner than filtered cigarette smoke.
Front seatbacks are soft storage pocket-equipped. The rear centre armrest reveals interior flock-lined storage. The rear centre tunnel clamshell door hides a flock-lined compartment, a cupholder with a unique tip-up cincher system, cigar lighter, and a 12-volt DC powerpoint. There’s a second cupholder ahead of the clamshell, beneath a flip-top door. A spring-loaded cincher system is used. A similar flip-top door on the front portion of the centre tunnel holds a backlit ashtray, with cigar lighter. There is an open cupholder behind it, with no cincher system. The centre console compartment is flock-lined, with a removable rubber bed. This is the plug-in point for the $600 Universal Audio Interface, in close proximity to a 12-volt DC powerpoint. Speaking of 12-volt DC powerpoints, you’ll find one at the back of the locking glove compartment, next to the HVAC-fed cooling outlet.