The Panamera comes in two basic body styles with no fewer than five different engine options. The base engine is a turbocharged 3.0L V6 making 330 horsepower. Porsche claims that this engine will rocket the panamera to 60 MPH in just 5.4 seconds. Panamera S models use a new 2.9L twin-turbo V6 making 440 hp. 0-60 times drop to 4.2 seconds for the S. A hybrid version combines the 330 hp V6 with an electric motor, for a total of 462 horsepower, while the full blown turbo version uses a 4.0L V8 engine with two turbos to produce 550 horsepower. Porsche claims a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds for the Turbo model. At the very top of the Panamera hierarchy lies the Panamera Tyrbo S E-Hybrid, which combines the 550 horsepower V8 with an electric motor for a staggering 680 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds.
Base Panameras and Panamera S models come standard with rear-wheel drive, while hybrid and Turbo models come standard with all-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is optional for base and S models. Power is distributed by a new 8-speed PDK gearbox which shifts incredibly quickly and is partially responsible for those rapid acceleration times.
A new development in the Panamera lineup for this generation is the emergence of a wagon model, dubbed the Sport Turismo. Where the regular Panamera has a trunk, the Sport Turismo has a long, elegantly shaped rear hatch, capable of swallowing a surprising amount of luggage. While the new Panamera is better looking than the previous generation, the Sport Turismo might be better looking still. All Sport Turismo Panameras come standard with All-wheel drive as well.
The Panamera must fulfill a role as a luxury car and its standard features reflect this fact. Base Panameras with no options still come with a 10-speaker 150 watt stereo, SiriusXM satellite radio, a navigation system, a ParkAssist system, a rear camera, dual-zone climate control, partial leather seating with heaters for the front seat, a multifunction steering wheel, 19-inch wheels, HID headlights and a panoramic sunroof.
Options on the Panamera are copious, a Premium Package includes a Bose sound system, 14-way power adjustable seats with a memory function, a lane change assist function and Porsche Comfort Access, which lets drivers start the car without having to take their keys out of their pockets.
The Premium Package Plus adds soft close doors, rear heated seats, vented seats in front and Porsche's Dynamic Light system with headlight cleaners. An assistance package includes an adaptive cruise control system, a lane keep assist system and night vision.
It's not easy being the middle child, unless you're the 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S. Slotting between the base Panamera and the potent GTS, the 4S does a great job striking a balance between sport and luxury.
Having also spent time in the Panamera's 4S E-Hybrid variant, which brings a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor into the mix, I believe the 4S is just as good without all that electro-frippery. The engine under the hood is the same in both cars: a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 producing 443 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. My tester's optional Sport Package ($5,450) brings Porsche's excellent sport exhaust into the equation, making every cold start and hard press of the throttle that much more exciting. A V6 isn't the most sonorous cylinder arrangement, but the upgraded pipes give this one a bass-heavy rumble that never gets so loud it annoys the neighbors.
Of course, you're not going to be listening to that sound from outside the car. You'll be listening to it from the cabin as you throw the Panamera around curvy backroads, which is where this thing belongs. 4S models with the Sport Package don't include the adaptive air suspension found on Panamera and Panamera 4 variants, but that's OK, because the standard adaptive dampers are still very capable. In their default mode, there's very little body roll but a suitable amount of softness over crappier parts of the pavement. Throw the car into Sport or Sport Plus and that smidgeon of lean gets Thanos snapped into the ether, leaving a car that wants to get chucked around at every opportunity. Add in the Sport Package's rear-axle steering and it's easy to forget how large this car actually is.
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