There's no getting around the fact that the old Panamera was a hippo of a thing. It wasn't pretty at all. In its many guises it was very fast, very efficient and very...Porsche, but to accuse it of beauty would be doing the word a disservice.
Other than the look, very little needed improving, but Porsche has decided to make the whole thing better anyway. A quick chat with Dr. Gernot Doellner, head of all things Panamera, revealed some things we knew, and a couple that we didn't.
Theis all new, all the time. From the base components to the exterior, there's nary a hint of old Panamera in there. Well, aside from one thing: Dr. Doellner and team know the concept is pretty perfect. Four big seats in a big car to go big distances (presumably to make big decisions about big business). As such, it's new, but still kind of familiar.
It brings the pretty
C'mon, they had to make it prettier. There's no way it could have gotten much worse, right? Porsche's aim here was to bring its silhouette closer in line with the 911 -- one of the most recognizable profiles in the automotive world. Even though the new car is bigger than the old in every dimension, it looks smaller than the old car. And it's much better looking -- smoother, sleeker, better.
Man, it's fast
The Turbo S will lap the Nurburgring in 7:38, which is faster than a Mercedes-McLaren SLR. It managed the run on normal road tires, too. The Turbo does come with 550 horses and a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharge V-8 that'll hurl it from 0-60mph in just 3.4 seconds, so if it was slow it'd be a heck of a surprise. There are other models coming out at launch, as well: The 4S for the US and a diesel model for Europe. They're both pretty perky too.
Technology is king
The inside is suspiciously buttonless. It's bizarre, considering how many of the things blight the first-generation car, but it's all about touch-panel tomfoolery now. That's an advantage for two reasons: One, no blank plates to show your friends that you're a bit cheap; two, you can do a lot more with the space. It also looks super cool. With the features on offer in the new car, Dr. Doellner said that traditional buttons would have swamped the cabin and been impractical. Now, they don't need to worry about it.
Darkness isn't a problem any more, either, as the new car can see in the dark, pick out possible hazards and alert the driver to their presence.
Its lights are smart, as well. For non-US models, there's an LED matrix setup that can selectively light bits of the road for you. It can sense an oncoming car, make sure the relevant parts of the light don't dazzle the other driver but keep as much of it lit as possible. Smart stuff. And, of course, it'll be stuffed with more safety tech than you can shake a stick at.
It's built in the same place as the Carrera GT
Porsche's Leipzig factory is pretty sweet. There's a museum full of Porsche's greatest cars, a super clean (and super new) building designed just for bolting the Panamera together, a test track with a replica ofand a pretty well-stocked gift shop. Most importantly: They used to build the Carrera GT there.
More are coming
The US gets the 4S and the Turbo from launch, but there were always going to be more than just the two. Thanks to a bit of a slip up, we saw a long wheelbase and a "regular" 4 in a workshop at the factory.
Dr. Doellner mentioned that two plug-in-hybrid Panameras are on the way, both with a performance edge to them. When pressed about a faster Turbo S variant he cracked a smile and commented, "We'll see..."
We'll let you know if the Panamera is a good to drive as Porsche hopes it is later down the line.