2014 Porsche Panamera 4S & 2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Title picture: 2014 Porsche Panamera GTS. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
Running a car company must sometimes feel like driving through fog. It’s cold and damp here in Oregon’s hilly wine country, and the thick blanket of mist rising up off the fields and marshes gets denser every second. Four-thousand-plus pounds of Teutonic juggernaut slows as the visibility drops: sixty feet, forty feet, thirty, twenty.
The satellite navigation has a plan for the road ahead – straight-on, coupla lefts, take the next right – but it can’t predict bumps, hiccups, poky tractors or stupefied deer. The thing to do when the unknown threatens is to slow down, raise your antenna, keep your eyes up and your driving inputs smooth. You don’t blast your way out of a fog bank – you creep.
This is the new, refreshed Panamera, and with the Chinese market softening, the European economy still in general disarray, and a overall confusion as to what lies ahead for the world’s markets, Porsche is taking things cautiously. Par for the course really – if you look at the slow changes made to the 911 over the years, you can see a company fond of slowly evolving their models, rather than huge, earth-shattering updates.
Not that the Panamera wasn’t earth-shattering when it arrived on the scene in 2009. Already grumbling over the idea of a Porsche badge on an SUV (with the Cayenne), fans of Stuttgart’s premier sports car manufacturer were understandably further put out by the idea of a high-speed limousine. It’s going to weigh how much? It’s going to be how long? It’s going to look like that? However, the complaints of purists have clearly had not too much effect, Porsche having just sold and delivered their 100,000th Panamera worldwide.
2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Click image to enlarge
During a presentation that illustrates the various mild cosmetic changes made to the Panamera (new front and rear fascias, new headlights and tail-lamps, available LED lighting, larger air intakes), Porsche execs speak glowingly of Porsche DNA. They talk of a new owner-centred facility to be built near Los Angeles, where there will be a test-track for Porsche fans to try out different models, as well as a restoration centre for classic cars.
Depending whether or not you think Porsche stopped building its best work with the elimination of the air-cooled 911 in 1998, this is either a fantastic way to build the brand, or a fracking operation trying to lever every possible dollar out of Porsche’s hard-won heritage. For what it’s worth, over half of the vehicles Porsche now sells have four doors – they are still a company that sells sports cars, but they are no longer just a sports car company. With the new Macan small crossover on the way, the Cayman, Boxster and 911 will doubtless occupy an even smaller slice of the Porsche pie chart.