Porsche has just unveiled a four-door sedan-hatchback mash-up, the Panamera, which will take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Astona Martin Rapide and the Lamborghini Estoque.
A Porsche for big people
Up until 2002, Porsche only ever built lightweight two-door coupes and roadsters. From the front the Panamera looks like a stretched four-door 911. At a smidge under five metres in length, the Panamera is actually longer than a Holden Commodore. It's also three centimetres wider but about 6cm shorter than Australia's own.
The Panamera won't be officially launched until the northern spring of 2009, so Porsche is keeping some details close to its chest. We do know, however, that at launch it will feature a choice of either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and that two engine types will be on offer — a V6 and V8, some with turbos — pumping out anywhere between 220kW and 380kW. No boxer engines will be offered though.
No performance figures, nor weight figures, have been revealed yet.
Hybrid ... soonish
A hybrid version of the Panamera, presumably similar to the one to be offered in the Cayenne from 2009, will be available sometime in the future. Don't expect anything before 2010 though.
A four part series
With today's unveiling, the company now has four models in its line-up: the Boxster/Cayman mid-engine roadster and coupe; the 911 rear-engined sports cars; the Cayenne four-wheel drive; and the sedan-oid Panamera.
According to sources, the Panamera will go on sale in Australia from about October 2009.
Porsche's new four-door is named in honour of the Carrera Panamericana race across Mexico, which in its initial form was run for five years in the early '50s. The Porsche 550 Spyder, possibly one of the most famous classic race cars, won the small sports car category of this race in 1953.
Porsche and VW
The link between Porsche and VW goes back to the beginning of both companies — the Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, while the original 911 shared much with the people's car. And now with Porsche owning a controlling stake in VW, it's little surprise to learn that the Panamera's body is produced in a VW factory.