2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
2014 Porsche Panamera 4S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

This is my first test drive in a Porsche product. I’ve driven the 2013 Porsche Carrera 4S for all of six kilometres but this is my first full week in one of these uber-famous rigs. Which should mean I didn’t have the same tainted view of the Panamera that some of my esteemed colleagues have – I wasn’t likely to jump in and say, “well this doesn’t feel like a Porsche”, because I have no point of reference.

The problem with that is Porsche’s own prodigious fame. I might not know exactly what one feels like firsthand but I’ve read about it. And I definitely know what they are supposed to look like.

If you’ve gotten this far chances are you care a little bit about this car and want to know what it drives like; which is why I’m going to take exactly four sentences to deal with the obvious elephant in the room so we can all move forward.

  1. The Panamera is heavier and bigger than a ‘real’ Porsche and some of the liveliness I’ve heard about is missing.
  2. The Panamera is nowhere near as alluring as a Cayman or a 911 but if you put the adjustable rear spoiler up and leave it there it looks respectable from most angles.
  3. Because of its desire to make actual money Porsche has evolved and now makes more than just sports cars.
  4. Panameras are not sports cars, they are sporty luxury cars and they do a solid job of that task.

Enough said.

Now on to the car. Climbing into the Panamera is a lot of fun. It’s like settling into an aircraft cockpit. The seats are comfortable and supportive. At first I found the base a little wide but the hip support can be adjusted into to be more cossetting. In fact there are eight adjustments you can make so you can mould the seat perfectly to your own particular body shape; in my case: pear.

The row of buttons on the centre console are alarming at first but the few blank ones at the bottom did prompt my father-in-law to ask what options we were missing from this $134,935 car. I wasn’t worried, the important ones were there. Namely the one that made the rear spoiler raise and lower so I could confuse people at traffic lights and the one that made the whole car raise and lower so I could trigger episodes of “hey look at that!” – also at traffic lights. There was also the one that made the exhaust note penetrate the cabin in a louder and more visceral way – that was one of my favourite buttons.

2014 Porsche Panamera 4S2014 Porsche Panamera 4S2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
2014 Porsche Panamera 4S. Click image to enlarge

“But Jacob, don’t those buttons make you a bit of a poser?” – Um yes. Yes they do. What’s your point?

The only other button I really care about I never found. It wasn’t until weeks later when I whinged about the lack of a heated steering wheel that Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony told me where to find it – behind the bottom spoke on the wheel – you know, in the one spot you can’t see and never ever put your fingers. Thanks Porsche.

The other buttons on the steering wheel make marginally more sense, but the button/paddles for shifting gears are the same on both sides, pull back for down, push for up – I like left-side down, right-side up better myself. I was also shocked when I realized the automatic shifter is set up wrong in manual sequential mode – forward for up, back for down. No, Porsche, no! I realize this is pure pedantry for racing enthusiasts and posers only, but this is a Porsche, it should be right, even in a Panamera.

The gearbox it controls is the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch automated manual. It wrestles the 420 horses and 384 lb-ft of torque thrown out by the 3.0L twin-turbo V6 into submission and sends them to all four wheels. In a straight line, the 1,870 kg car feels far lighter than you think, mostly because the stunning Porsche twin-turbo V6 launches it with a guttural growl and genuine seat-pressing velocity. It helps that those 384 lb-ft of torque are unleashed at a low 1,750 rpm. Moby Dick or not, this thing is an absolute hoot to peel away from traffic lights. It’s equally fun to overtake with on the highways, and I’m afraid to admit I made every pass with way more throttle and noise than what was warranted. My fellow travellers probably hated me; if only they could have seen my winning smile! They couldn’t of course, because I was waaaay down the road – giggling.

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