The Porsche Panamera GTS is a car harnessing the sporting prowess of the famous brand from Stuttgart but with the practicality of four doors and commodious cabin. Angus Davies reviews this luxurious Swabian car.
In my mind I am still the slim young man of 1983, dressed in pastel shades befitting the period, dancing to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. Then, a tumbleweed moment, I look in the mirror and realize that I am middle-aged.
Where did the years go? What has happened?
Nature has felt it necessary to deprive me of my thick, flowing locks and compensate with wayward and unwelcome matting emanating from my ears and nostrils.
I can’t remember when I ceased listening to Radio 1 and switched to lunchtime debates with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. I feel like I have become my father’s generation, omitting to grasp that the relative age difference between us remains unchanged.
Visiting my children’s school, I am suddenly older than the teachers. Policemen no longer appear to be the Dixon of Dock Green types I recall from my youth, but “youngsters”, barely out of school.
I am now irritated by the unnecessary muzak that seems to accompany every meal in a restaurant or reluctant trip to a shopping mall.
I have become a grumpy middle-aged man as my children often remind me.
I long to regain a taste of youthful fun, a sports car I am sure would satisfy this yearning, but then I have the lumbering limbs of my outsized off-spring to consider. They need to be transported to numerous venues in “dad’s taxi.”
I am resigned to my son and daughter living at home for many more years. Cresting apexes with enthusiastic vigour, enjoying the pleasure of driving, will have to wait until the “empty nester” phase commences, or at least so I thought.
Enter the Porsche Panamera GTS, a car harnessing the sporting prowess of the famous brand from Stuttgart but with the practicality of four doors and commodious cabin.
I sat in the alluring Panamera at Millbrook, Bedfordshire and the “Alpine Route” beckoned.
I confess to being a former owner of a Porsche 911 and once you have sampled the competence of these Swabian automotive delicacies, there remains a place in your heart that is forever Porsche.
The question I asked myself was, “Can this offer an involving drive despite its greater dimensions?”
A few enthusiastic twirls of the steering wheel and a moment of judicious tap dancing on the throttle and brake pedals and the answer is clear, a resounding, “Yes”.
It doesn’t make sense. A car this large should not be this “chuckable”, but it is. The trade-off for many cars with this level of manoeuvrability is a physiotherapy-inducing ride, however, I can report the ride comfort is actually very good. This is probably thanks to the air suspension and the myriad of electronic aids which optimise the driving experience.
One reason for the surefooted fusion with the black top is the four wheel drive system. It grips the road and clings to terra firma tenaciously.
The view forward from the driver’s seat appears to shrink the dimensions of the car. It does not feel as large as the measurements stated on the manufacturer’s specification sheet. If you look behind the front passenger seat though, there is clearly ample rear seat accommodation to welcome my rugby playing son.
I would never have described my 2001 911 Carrera 2 as luxurious, but Porsche have spent a lot of time and effort honing the interior decor of its cars of late with sublime results.
The centre console and dashboard envelope the driver. The ergonomics are superb, with switchgear falling readily to hand, proffering smile inducing tactility.
The seats are very supportive, cradling my torso perfectly. They provide a fine balance between comfort and necessary grip for those engaging Sunday morning drives. Whilst the seats are firm, I could not sense any unwelcome numbness of the posterior sometimes found in other cars with sporting aspirations.
The engine note is not too intrusive, however, the car does have the facility to allow driver and passengers to experience the full sound thanks to the Sound Symposer. A full ristretto experience is delivered to those who want to enjoy an octane fuelled symphony. Simply press a button.
To some this may sound synthetic, however, I actually feel the idea has merit. When you wish to engage in spirited motoring, a rumbling soundtrack can heighten the joy of driving. Alternatively, there are occasions when you are not in the mood and noise is unwelcome, proving especially tiresome when you are stuck in nose to tail traffic on your way home from work.
The V8 powerplant, 4.8 litre is bristling with power with 430 bhp on tap. The prodigious torque was available at low revs, making short work of the hill-climb sections of the simulated mountain route.
My test car had the 20-inch Panamera Sport wheels painted in a high gloss black finish. They enhance the visual appeal wonderfully and despite the low profile of the tyres fitted, no undue road surface noise entered the cabin. These are a must have option for the style conscious.
This brings me to an area which has divided opinion in the motoring press, styling. Some have criticised the exterior styling of the Panamera, but I can’t understand this. The design language is refreshing, contemporary and yet has some 911 design cues faithful to Ferry Porsche’s original sketches.
If you look at the car it does not conform to the conventional three box shape of many luxury limousines. From the front windscreen pillar, the curving line of the roof flows into the powerful haunches of the rear wings and bestows a modern, exciting purposeful aesthetic.
The white hue of my test vehicle worked well, nevertheless, I have seen the car in Basalt Black Metallic and that would be my preferred choice. This tincture shows the intricate details of the design wonderfully.
I adored my 911 and the latest incarnation, the 991 is simply stunning to behold and offers peerless driving involvement. However, for those with practical considerations do not despair, the Panamera provides a sensational driving experience with the ability to convey the progeny and spouse in spacious comfort.
I may have found a cure to middle-aged querlous and cantakerous feelings, the Porsche Panamera GTS.