It’s been half a dozen years since the Porsche Panamera first appeared at the Shanghai Motor Show, long enough for the bruising to fade on the tender sensibilities of the hard-core faithful. It was almost amusing to see the first reactions to the big Porsche’s arrival, particularly from those hard-core sports-car loyalists who considered it a personal affront. After the first lashings of critical snark appeared, the floodgates opened and a reverse-sycophantic free-for-all ensued. Panamera-bashing reached internet-meme proportions. Most of it was generated by a vocal minority unlikely to ever afford one, while rapturously praising the virtues of sub-$15,000 brown diesel station wagons – the more obscure, the better.
Obviously, the folks who’ve made the Panamera the best-selling Porsche in Canada (next to the Cayenne) missed the memo that they simply aren’t cool.
To be fair, Panameras in the lower spectrum of the model range – though fine, respectable luxury cruisers – are rather lacking in character. Those sporting the Turbo S and GTS badges however, can almost hold their own against Porsche’s venerable two-doors.
Like ’em, or loathe ’em, Porsche is selling a metric scheiss-load of ’em. And regardless of whether you’re a fan or not – that’s a good thing. Thanks to the Panamera and the equally maligned Cayenne SUV, Porsche pulled through the recent economic implosion to continue producing the raw sports cars we all love so much. Surely, even Zuffenhausen’s most devout disciples can understand those economics.
Like other GTS-badged variants in the lineup, the Panamera GTS targets the serious driver, but in this case one who wants his sports car blended with an executive sedan.
Although I’d previously driven a Panamera GTS in screaming, chili pepper red, this week’s tester is a slightly more subtle white. It’s best viewed from the front, with a lovely face that’s menacing to see in one’s rear view mirror. The three-quarter view is also nice – with its obvious familial ties to the gorgeous 918. In profile, however, the Panamera’s awkward roofline and bulging backside lend it a look that’s less Porsche and more porcine. Black-trimmed rocker panels – the Spanx of the auto world – visually slenderize the Panamera’s substantial girth, giving a deceptively lithe appearance to its mid-section.
Twenty-inch “Spyder” wheels further ramp up the GTS’s athleticism, as do the enormous (390-mm) slotted rotors and red six-piston calipers behind their split spokes.