2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2010 Porsche Panamera

Toronto, Ontario – With the launch of the 2010 Panamera last fall, Porsche has given new life to the term “five-door hatchback”. This is the first all-new Porsche in seven years, and the automaker’s first foray into the four-door premium luxury car market.

“It’s a logical next step for Porsche,” said Canadian Porsche public relations manager Laurance Yap. “There are many 911 customers buying into this segment who would like to keep their purchases in the Porsche family. We also expect the Panamera to bring a lot of new, first-time customers to the brand.”

2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera. Click image to enlarge

The subject of this test is the $120,300 4S model, which slots in between the rear-drive $115,100 S and the all-wheel-drive 500-hp $155,000 Turbo. A 400-hp, naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 powers all four wheels through Porsche’s seven-speed twin-clutch PDK gearbox – the only transmission available in the Panamera.

A fascinating vehicle indeed – and one not free of controversy. Let’s start with the styling.

This is a big car. At 4970 mm in length, it’s about 160 mm longer than a Cayenne. From the headlights to the prominent fenders to the rounded back, this “space coupe” (the words of chief designer Michael Mauer) broadcasts 911.

Is it pretty? Not really. Is it homely? To some. British mouth-piece Jeremy Clarkson calls it “as ugly as an inside-out monkey”. A tad harsh. I find the Panamera’s styling intriguing, exotic, imposing and, perhaps most importantly, unmistakable for anything other than a Porsche. The wow factor is definitely here – this car announces its presence in no uncertain terms. It does look better in the flesh than in the photos, but if you desire true classic beauty in your four-door exotica, buy a Maserati Quattroporte.

2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera. Click image to enlarge

The interior will be familiar to those who have spent time in Porsche sports cars. You sit low in the vehicle, and relationship to the controls is pure 911, as is the look of the major gauges. What won’t be familiar is the richness and opulence conveyed by the elegant modern design and exquisite workmanship. Not to say other Porsches aren’t well put together, but the Panamera leaps into Bentley territory.

Standard equipment in the 4S includes eight-way power and heated seats, navigation system, park assist, rain-sensing wipers, sunroof, bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, premium audio, power liftgate, and 18-inch wheels.

As per the Zuffenhausen way, Porsche will charge you for such things as Bluetooth connectivity ($950), universal audio interface ($600) and XM radio ($1030) – stuff that was free on a Kia Forte I just tested. Why do they do this? Taking a punchline from that timeless canine joke, it’s because they can.

This tester’s interior benefited from further upgrades that included full black leather, carbon fibre trim, Bose surround sound, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and alcantara roofliner, tallying $13,770. Mechanical upgrades included 20-inch RS Spyder Design wheels ($4,250), Sport Chrono Package Plus ($1,800), and Adaptive Air Suspension ($2,720).

Porsche’s prime goal with the Panamera, along with providing a dynamic driving experience, was to offer sufficient room for four full-sized adults and their luggage. This goes a long way in explaining the sedan’s almost humpback profile. Rear head and legroom is very generous. The rear seats are contoured like the fronts providing comfort and support in equal measure – presumably to keep your keister in place when Jeeves gets a little frisky.

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