2011 Porsche Panamera V6
2011 Porsche Panamera V6. Click image to enlarge

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2011 Porsche Panamera

Birmingham Alabama – Introduced last year, the Porsche Panamera is a capable performance vehicle that happens to be able to carry four passengers in comfort – compromises on the performance side are few. New for 2011 is the Panamera V6, a car that will be more accessible to the upper middle class rather than exclusive to the well-to-do.

Although Porsche does not expect the Panamera V6 to do as well as the base Cayenne has done for them in the SUV class – mainly because the Panamera is still in a niche class competing with vehicles such as the BMW 7-series and Audi A8 – the starting price on the Panamera V6 is more appealing than its direct competitors. Starting at $88,000, the 2011 Panamera V6 offers Porsche’s new V6 engine, which is derived directly from the Panamera S’ V8. Also newly available is the Panamera 4 which offers an all-wheel drive system with a starting price of $92,800. Both vehicles offer the new 300-hp V6 engine coupled to Porsche’s six-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission. For 2011, the Panamera lineup offers more standard features including: Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, floor mats, bi-xenon headlights and navigation system with touch-screen interface.

2011 Porsche Panamera V6
2011 Porsche Panamera V6
2011 Porsche Panamera V6
2011 Porsche Panamera V6
2011 Porsche Panamera V6. Click image to enlarge

The Panamera is the first production production Porsche to use a V6 engine. The 3.6-litre six-cylinder, derived from the V8 powering the Panamera S and Panamera 4S, was designed together with the V8 and developed in just 49 months. It therefore boasts all the technical refinements and features also offered by the eight-cylinder, such as Direct Fuel Injection, infinitely-variable intake camshaft adjustment with variable valve lift (VarioCam Plus), an on-demand oil pump, water cooling with thermal management, a variable intake manifold, as well as integrated dry sump lubrication with two-stage extraction of oil and, in conjunction with PDK, an Auto Start-Stop function.

This V6 is no relation to that in the Cayenne, as some might assume. The new engine uses a 90 degree angle between cylinder banks, which creates a lower profile engine, allowing Porsche to move the engine mass closer to the ground, and lowering the Panamera’s centre of gravity to improve handling.

The first feature you may notice as you open the door to the Panamera is its smooth operation. The typical “three-stop” door does not exist here; instead, what Porsche has done is designed a hydraulic strut to hold the door, which allows it to stop at any point during the opening and closing phase with no concern of banging the door on the neighbouring car.

On the inside, it starts with a visual deluge including a rich leather-covered dash and clean and easy-to-read illuminated gauges. The interior of the Panamera is unique, modern and elegant, and if you like buttons you’ll love it. Oddly, if you like simplicity you will also love it, as all the important controls are at your fingertips. There is no denying though that it may take a while before you can remember which button is where — think of it like a game of Where’s Waldo or perhaps a memory challenge. Porsche’s philosophy is truly form over function: the control layout strengthens this by using the transmission tunnel as a place to locate controls and give you the feeling of being in the car rather than on top of it.

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