A truly spectacular feat of engineering, the 2012 Panamera Turbo S hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and sticks to corners like paint. Its electronics are not the most advanced, considering its price, but the audio system produces excellent sound.
Similar to what it's done with its 911 model, Porsche has been creating trim levels for the Panamera based on S, Turbo, and all-wheel-drive models in various combinations. The latest Panamera version is the Turbo S, a halo car for Porsche that achieves better acceleration than many of the 911 models.
The 4.8-liter V-8 uses direct injection and twin turbochargers to produce 550 horsepower. At the same time, its fuel economy is much better than that of other cars boasting this much power, getting 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
An active suspension system changes the performance between Sport, Sport Plus, and Comfort settings. But even in Comfort mode, the ride quality is never soft. An automatic spoiler on the rear deploys at around 50 mph.
A metal strip along the top of the steering-wheel hub holds icons for the car's various modes, such as Sport and Sport Plus. It will even light up an icon for launch control when that system is engaged.
In traditional sports car style, the tachometer takes center stage on the instrument cluster, with the speedometer off to the left. A digital display in the tachometer also shows speed, which is very useful.
A dial on the right of the instrument cluster holds a round LCD that shows a variety of screens from the car's infotainment system. You can view navigation, phone status, or the currently playing music track.
The navigation system uses maps stored on a hard drive, and includes traffic data. The response time for the system is very good, but it is not quite as cutting-edge as the Google Earth system used by Audi.