Let me start this review off by saying I was not a fan of the Porsche Panamera. A lot of journalists have also kept arguing that it is not a looker and I shared that opinion, but lets be honest here, its only the rear end of the car that had a bit of an issue (This face-lifted model addressed just that) and this was my opportunity to spend some time with the car and answer a question for myself, was the Panamera worth buying?
Special Thanks to Porsche Centre Dubai for letting me borrow their GTS!
Before we get into anything, this is not any Porsche Panamera it is the GTS, and that badge stands for a lot. So, I was at least starting in the right direction here. I guess the real question is whether the Panamera GTS really does stand up to what is expected of sporty Porsche in 4 door form or not! Before we get into my experience with the Panamera, lets cover some basics.
Porsche Panamera GTS Introduction
The first generation was very welcomed, especially here in the United Arab Emirates. It came in many models and even the base model was pretty good! The front end looked typical Porsche and the interior was absolutely epic. Various engine options meant a broad range of customers had their pick at the power they needed.
The second generation does it even better! The front styling has been improved, the interior is still stunning and the rear got little tweeks here and there and I got to say it looks a lot better! The Panamera GTS is a monster, it has 440HP and 520NM of Torque giving it a very respectable 288KMPH Top Speed with a 0-100 time of 4.4 seconds! This is a very quick large sedan.
All this power comes out of a 4.8 litre V8 engine through it’s 7 speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) and an active all-wheel drive system they call the Porsche Traction Management (PTM). Porsche Stability Management (PSM) keeps you heading in the direction you want at all times. Not that this needs to be mentioned but sports exhaust is standard, so think of it as a naturally aspirated version of the Panamera Turbo. The car seats 4 people comfortably and rear passengers get 2 rear seats nearly identical as the front with a decent sized boot.
This is one of the two main factors, in my opinion, that needs covering the most! Lets start around the front and work our way to the back shall we?
The front looks even better than it ever did, in fact, I believe this might be one of the nicest looking large sedan fronts out there with those large air intakes (Ram Air Induction), beautifully sculptured hood, large redesigned headlights which are now Full LED (LED also takes a large part with interior lighting), twin daylight running lights, and Porsche’s Park Assist System. This car is an attention grabber for sure; The GTS also has air suspension that lets the car ride 10mm lower than standard, oh so sporty!
The side stance of the Panamera has also been improved. The lowered suspension, large brakes (taken from the turbo) with red brake calipers (6-piston, aluminum monobloc fixed calipers (front) 360 mm, 4-piston, aluminum monobloc fixed calipers (rear) 330 mm, integral brake rotors internally vented and slotted) sitting inside 20 inch Porsche 911 Turbo Wheels really does make it look hot. A lot of design elements have been darkened, like the head and tail lamps, dark accented touches like side vents, black rear spoiler, etc.
One of my favorite design elements is the slide air vents, also in black.
Moving over to the rear… You’d think that it is not a looker, but for some reason it happens to grow on you, really. Surely it isn’t the prettiest rear end of a large sedan, but it is very special, unique and definitely stands out. In the GTS the rear tail lights are darkened, the quad exhaust tips (which you are forced to look at due to the sheer sound of this beast) and the split spoiler makes it look unique. I could not get enough of that split rear spoiler!
The rear lights, at night, illuminate in a tasteful line outlining the shape of the lights rather than lighting the entire unit, which looks cool and is a certain improvement over the outgoing design.
You’d think a Porsche never has decent storage space but the Panamera does have a fair amount of cargo space.
It is a beautifully carpeted 15.72 cubic feet of storage space, but that is not the entire story! Fold down the seats (yup they can) and you’d have around 44.6 cubic feet of storage to use.
This is such a nice place to be! Full control of the vehicle, perfect driving position, and such a beautiful, comfortable and luxurious interior.
The GTS came with a beautiful Carrera Red interior with black contrasting interior with the Porsche logo embossed on the front and rear headrests. The interior trim was rather unique, it was Porsche’s popular Birch Anthracite trim (Although Carbon Fiber would have been more suitable for a sports monster like the GTS)
The seats are 14-way power adjustable, ventilated with memory functions for the ultimate comfort and customization.
The driver’s view, dare I say it, is typical modern Porsche, but keeping in mind the Panamera started this interior design, it’s owning it till today. Everything is incredibly crafted with the softest of materials ever. Switches, Switches everywhere!
Spanning from the left are the window controls on the driver door along with the memory seat functions. To the left of the steering wheel sits the keyfob (The Panamera was loaded with keyless entry and start, so all one needs to do is enter with the key in his/her pocket and turn the in-dash key), high beam with turn signals and cruise control stalk.
The steering wheel has on wheel buttons to control the driver instrument panel, telephone and radio controls with two aluminium shifter handles, I would have wished for paddles on the GTS but these worked well, especially when shifting with one hand. To the right of the steering wheel sits the windshield wiper stalk.
Sitting at the very top of the dashboard is a beautiful stopwatch (Porsche’s Chrono) which simply describes how sporty they intended this Panamera GTS to be.
Probably my favorite part of the Panamera is the center console. Starts with two air vents around the large touch screen with simple and familiar controls (More of that can be read in my Cayman S review here) and then the button kingdom begins!
Something that is unique on the Panamera compared to the other models, is the birds-eye-view/360 degree cameras.
I have seen this implemented on many cars, but the one on the Panamera is near perfect. Perfect adjustments, steering guidelines, image quality and real visibility without looking around, which is good because with the tall rear end, seeing out of the Panamera isn’t easy.
Above the gear leaver sits individual climate controls, and controls for the rear spoiler and hazard lights.
On the sides, sit air flow controls for each passenger side and on the bottom two sides, sit control toggles for the sport modes (Sport and Sport Plus), suspension stiffness, ride height control, traction control, start/stop function, rear window blinds, exhaust (Oh yes, you can control the sports exhaust system; in two settings) and lane departure warning (Beeps when driving over road lines without a signal).
The GTS came with a painted key fob that’s painted in the same color as the car’s exterior. Talk about a sexy touch!
The gauges on the Panamera are just gorgeous, they come in 5 circular clusters displaying the oil pressure and temperature, speedometer, tachometer (with gear and digital speed read out), driver information display (GPS, vehicle information, info-tainment, time, etc), and finally the fuel and temperature gauge.
And for the first time on a Porsche review, how about we take a step into the back!
The seating in the rear is slightly tight, but not too tight. Entering might get tall people’s head but once in, it is perfectly fine due to the raised rear roofline. The seating is for two people in the rear with similar seats as the front and it feels just as great in the back! This is certainly not the type of car one buys to be chauffeured in due to the rear space, but if one were to sit in the back, it is comfortable and luxurious.
Rear passengers get their own center console which has their individual rear air condition controls, vents, and controls for the rear window blinds. They have some storage space in the back and a cup holder for that extra convenience.
I have been waiting through this entire review to get to this very section, my absolute favorite section of the Panamera GTS Review!
The above is a typical place where one would find the Panamera sitting in front of expensive mall valet parking waiting to be parked, but there is a lot more to sitting behind the wheel of this car than its price tag and luxurious status. A lot.
Lets start with the handling. It does NOT feel big! and by all means this is a big car spanning nearly 16.45 feet long and 6.33 feet wide! It is quite heavy too, weighing in at 2500 Kgs and yet while driving this car, it feels smaller, much smaller. There are times where the weight does show like when cornering and with harder than usual maneuvers but in every other aspect, it was really well balanced and easy to place on the road. The steering wheel was doing its best to move the bulk around and was responsive and light throughout, I am impressed how the car feels to drive.
The suspension is very well suited for this type of car. It is adjustable via the center console, but it isn’t too stiff and the ride is perfectly firm but comfortable. It had its own personality about the way the car was riding, certainly not as comfortable as other large luxury sedan but not stiff like a sports car, it was the perfect balance which was suitable for the GTS being a sporty large sedan. Firming the suspension did give an edge when driving enthusiastically.
The drive modes are incredible. When in normal mode, with the sports exhaust toggled down and stop/start activated the car is as docile as a little cat, it purs along and drives smoothly in class and comfort. Hit the Sports Plus button, and everything flips and it tries it’s best to give you the Carrera experience! It holds on to the gears to the last breath, brutal acceleration and the sharpest throttle, steering and suspension. Fun!
The power. Today we are often spoilt with cars with 700, 800, and 1000+HP that we do forget that 440 HP is a lot! The GTS leaps forward from a standstill to 100kmph in 4.4 seconds, which by any standards is very quick. Being that the vehicle is naturally aspirated and has a 7 speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) gearbox the power never stops! It can get dangerously quick at times and one must keep an eye on the speed limit while on public roads, but you cant deny the appeal of all the power this car effortlessly makes. When accelerating there isn’t a slight hint the car has 4 doors, a boot and is over 16 feet long. Great job Porsche, great job!
It does start to sound like I am liking this car doesn’t it? Because I do! There really is something about the Porsche Panemera GTS that is undeniable.
At first I thought this was going to be a really nice fast Porsche limo, full stop, but I was mistaken. The car is fantastic all round! It is comfortable, classy, luxurious, has tons of power, handles really well, looks good in most angles and without a doubt that rear end will grow on you (if you don’t like it already). It is a real head turner too and for the brief moments I stopped at the mall’s valet parking some people started taking pictures of it! The Panamera GTS is a one of the best performance large sedans on the market today, and it only took me a day to win me over by what it can do.
Special Thanks to the Porsche Centre Dubai.