2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2010 Porsche Panamera

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin – At the North American launch of the new 2010 Porsche Panamera in Wisconsin, special guest Dr. Stefan Utsch (responsible for Panamera sales and marketing in Europe) attempted to explain how and why the Panamera looks like a Porsche. It’s the proportions, he said; the fenders being higher than the hood, the curvature of the hood seam, the shape of the roof, the grille (or lack of one) among other specific curves, angles and contours. In the end it was like trying to quantify emotion; the clear fact being that upon seeing the Panamera, it could be nothing other than a Porsche. Why that is so, is really beside the point.

Debuting in Canada this fall, the 2010 Porsche Panamera brings four-door sedan practicality to a brand known almost exclusively for high-performance sports cars. It also becomes the hottest hatchback on the market.

2010 Porsche Panamera
2010 Porsche Panamera. Click image to enlarge

The Panamera is a full-size, four-door sedan with a coupe profile and a rear hatch, that when opened exposes seats that fold flat to accommodate golf bags, luggage and whatever else you need to occupy its large cargo space. The Panamera’s engine is located at the front, driving the rear wheels, or all wheels, depending on specification. It is designed to seat four adults comfortably (lots of rear leg and headroom) and is very much a luxury car in the grand touring tradition.

Available models include the $115,100 Panamera S, the $120,300 Panamera 4S and the $155,000 Panamera Turbo, all of which are powered with a 4.8-litre V8 engine mated to a seven-speed, double-clutch manual/automatic (PDK) transmission.

The Panamera S generates 400-horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque from its naturally aspirated, direct injected engine, and will sprint from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds to a top speed of 283 km/h. Standard equipment for the Panamera S is generous in comparison with other “base” Porsche models, and includes eight-way power and heated seats, six-piston 350/330 mm front/rear brake rotors, navigation system, park assist; rain-sensing wipers, sunroof, bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, premium audio, start-stop technology, the PDK transmission, power liftgate, and 18-inch wheels.

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

The Panamera 4S is essentially the Panamera S with all-wheel drive, and minor exterior badging differences, but because of its improved traction, its 5.0-second, 0-100 km/h sprint is faster than the rear-drive model. Top speed is 282 km/h.

The Panamera Turbo increases standard equipment to complement the additional power of its twin-turbocharged engine that makes 500-hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. A full-leather interior (adds leather to dashboard, door panels), adaptive air suspension, 14-speaker Bose audio system, 19-inch wheels, 390/350 mm front/rear brake rotors, 14-way power seats with memory, alcantara roofliner and A-pillars; three-spoke, smooth leather, multi-function steering wheel with power reach and height adjust; heated rear seats, walnut trim package and brushed aluminum door entry guards with Panamera turbo script all come standard. Acceleration to 100 km/h drops to 4.2 seconds, en route to a top speed of 303 km/h.

This being a Porsche, the option book is comprehensive, and the options are not inexpensive. It includes just about everything a person could do to personalize a vehicle (interior leather and trim options (aluminum, carbon fibre, wood), performance options (ceramic brakes, sport exhaust) rear seat entertainment, 20-inch wheels, heated steering wheel, and much more.

Two options of particular note are the Sport Chrono Package ($1,800 for the Panamera S and Panamera 4S; $3,110 for the Panamera turbo) and the Burmester High-End Surround Sound System ($7,750 for the Panamera S and Panamera 4S; $5,440 for the Panamera turbo).

The Sport Chrono Package consists of three components: an analog and digital stopwatch situated at the top/centre of the dash, a “Sport Plus” button that generates sharper engine response and firmer suspension, and launch control. The latter has the effect of lowering 0-100 km/h acceleration times by 0.2 seconds for each model (taking the Panamera Turbo down to 4.0 seconds). It also increases torque to 568 lb.-ft in the Panamera Turbo and seductively lowers the entire vehicle by 25 mm when activated (this requires adaptive air suspension, available for $2,720). Either way, the Sport Chrono Package is an option worth selecting.

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