The Porsche Panamera Turbo is a five-door, four-seater grand tourer for those who want to ferry up to three passengers in high-speed luxury. The car promises all the performance of its smaller siblings, with all the creature comforts you'd expect from a grand tourer.
Our review model, which retails for £110,000, features the optional rear-seat entertainment package and high-end Burmester audio system. The base configuration costs around £104,000.
Beauty or beast?
When it comes to its appearance, the Panamera divides opinion like few other cars. The majority of people we encountered said it's , citing its bloated -style rear end and platypus-inspired front as the main offenders. Many of those people, however, changed their minds upon seeing the car in the metal.
By the end of our week-long test period, we'd lost count of the number of people who'd given us a thumbs up as we cruised around. It's by no means a beautiful car, but its unusual dimensions and shape challenge design conventions in a very positive way.
Whatever your opinion of the Panamera Turbo's exterior, there's no question that its interior is sensational. The centre console in particular is a beacon of outstanding design, with two rows of thin, chrome buttons running vertically alongside a centrally positioned gear lever.
Porsche's designers haven't neglected the rear, either. The car's long, tall rear section, which looks so bulbous from the outside, provides whopping amounts of head room -- much more than the. The boot, meanwhile, offers a considerable 432 litres of luggage space -- 115 litres more than the Rapide.
Theatre of dreams
The Turbo's cabin is a great place to hang out, no matter where you sit. Those in the back have access to the car's optional rear-seat entertainment package, which consists of two 800x480-pixel, 7-inch TFT displays mounted in the rear of the front headrests, and a pair of wireless infrared headsets.
Unlike many rear-seat entertainment set-ups, the system in the Panamera is controlled via touch, rather than an infrared remote control. This is great as it means there's no need for passengers to share a remote and no chance of losing it under the seat.
Rear passengers can watch different media simultaneously. Both screens tilt downwards to reveal their own slot-loading CD/DVD drives; have their own USB ports that enable playback of MPEG-4 movies from mass-storage devices (as long as they're no more than 4GB in size); allow playback of live Freeview television; and have auxiliary inputs that allow users to connect external devices, such as games consoles or camcorders.
If the situation arises where one passenger is jealous of the content being shown on the other passenger's display, they can use Porsche's Crosslink function, which allows one screen to play content shown on the other.
Sound off like you've got a pair of subs
As standard, the Panamera ships with a 585W Bose surround-sound audio set-up. Our review model, however, came fitted with an optional £3,000high-end surround-sound system. It's the best factory-fitted audio set-up in any car we've tested to date.
The Burmester kit consists of 16 speakers and two amplifiers -- one 16-channel 700W unit driving the woofers and tweeters, and a second 300W class-D amplifier powering a 10-inch subwoofer in the car's enormous boot. On paper, it shouldn't deliver quite as much oomph as the 20-speaker, 1,200W system in the, but it blitzes all comers, partly because the total diaphragm area of the speakers is a whopping 2,400cm2 -- the highest you'll find in any factory-fitted sound system.
It's a set-up that seems to make everything sound enormous, regardless of genre. It renders the mid-range tones of Junior B by Yello with startling clarity, reproducing the track's silky female vocals and melancholy strings with great accuracy.
Bassy tracks get the treatment they deserve, too. Throw on some Our Own Happiness by X-Dream and the subwoofer will do its utmost to rupture your internal organs.
Sadly, the Panamera's Harman Kardon head unit doesn't have a hard disk for ripping CDs to, so you'll need to carry your favourite discs with you if you want to listen to compression-free music. Those who don't mind listening to compressed digital music can play tracks via USB or iPod mass-storage devices up to 4GB in size, DAB radio, or audio streamed from compatible Bluetooth mobiles and MP3 players.