by Michael Butler
Now celebrating its tenth year of production, the Porsche Panamera has grown from an ugly duckling into one of the best full-size luxury sedans on the market. Unlike its competitor, the Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan, which offers a more relaxed, although blisteringly fast driving experience, the Panamera Turbo is a full-on driver's car that handles like a car half its weight. With 550 horsepower on offer and an all-wheel-drive system to put the power down, the Panamera Turbo feels like a warp-speed missile at full tilt. What makes this even better is the ultra-luxurious interior that doesn't pretend to even try to save weight. With a trunk space that's much bigger than its rivals, the Panamera is also one of the most practical cars in this segment. It's fast, comfortable, practical, and may well go down as one of the best performance sedans in history.
We can hardly believe that the Panamera nameplate has been around for a decade; when it was first released, the Panamera didn't draw a ton of praise, especially in the looks department, but has always been admired for its comfort, practicality and sheer pace. Ten years later, the Panamera looks arguably more appealing and is more capable than ever. 2020 models don't see much in terms of major tech or styling updates but it does gain two new paint colors, namely Gentian Blue, and the wild and wonderful Papaya.
One of the major issues forever plaguing the Porsche Panamera is its exterior styling, with motoring journalist legend Jeremy Clarkson quipping, "yes, it's better-looking than its predecessor, but that's like saying it's better-looking than a gaping wound." We do not find the Porsche Panamera Turbo to be that bad looking at all; perhaps it has grown on us. From the outside, the Panamera Turbo shows off with its trim-exclusive set of 20-inch wheels behind which sit a set of six-piston front, and four-piston rear calipers finished off in the obligatory red. The hood, tailgate, doors, and side fenders are all constructed from aluminum. The electrically adjustable, folding, and heatable exterior mirrors are flanked by silver side window trim, and in the rear, you get a power liftgate, panorama sunroof, and an adaptable rear spoiler that adjusts its pitch in four possible ways for increased or decreased downforce. Smaller details include rain-sensing window wipers, and LED headlights with daytime running lights, and Executive models feature soft-close doors.
Let's get one thing straight; the 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo isn't a lightweight, corner-carving sports car such as its siblings the Boxster or Cayman. It is officially classed as a full-sized luxury vehicle, but it can be easier to think of it as a stretched out 911 with the engine in the front, and a hatchback liftgate in the rear. Total length is measured at 198.8 inches, which is over three inches longer than the BMW M5, but almost ten inches short of the Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan. Width with the mirrors folded is 76.3 inches, and 85.2 inches when out. The 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo is 56.1 inches tall and rolls on a long 116.1-inch wheelbase. The front and rear track are measured at 65.2/64.5 inches respectively. The Panamera Turbo is no lightweight: it weighs in with a curb weight of 4,579 lbs. Executive models have a wheelbase that is 5.9 inches longer than the standard model and weigh 4,761 lbs as a result.
The expansive swathes of aluminum panels on the Panamera Turbo are well suited to the measured paint colors on offer, but Porsche knows its customers, so a few odd-ball numbers have crept onto the options list for 2020. The Panamera Turbo comes standard with your choice of Black or White, ten metallic options, and five special colors, but customers can blend their own custom mix for the ultimate in exclusivity. Our favorite metallic colors have to be the Volcano Grey Metallic, which slims down the Panameras substantial profile, or the whacky Green Mamba. Special colors on offer for 2020 go for an eye-watering $3,310 an include Carmine Red, Amethyst, GT Silver, and the wild Papaya. If it were up to us, we'd get one in Volcano Grey Metallic.
Think of the Panamera as a full-blown supercar with an extra pair of doors, and things start to make sense. The exterior of the Panamera perfectly camouflages the fact that this full-size luxury car will decimate most things on the road while cradling the driver in supreme comfort. We're blown away with its ability to pick up speed at ludicrous rates all the while feeling like you're going below the speed limit; the official zero to sixty time is 3.6 seconds, or 3.4 seconds when fitted with the Sport Chrono package, while the Executive will do it in 3.7/3.6 respectively, but independent testing has seen the Turbo hit that mark in three seconds flat. Top speed is set at 190 mph. Around town and on the highway there is more than enough power, (550 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of torque to be exact) for any and all driving situations, and power can be fed to the wheels in a very linear fashion that will deceive even the most experienced of sports car drivers.
The Panamera Turbo is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, which it shares with the Cayenne Turbo SUV. This engine makes use of VarioCam Plus with adaptive cylinder management tech, and a healthy dose of boost pressure to develop 550 hp from 5,750 to 6,000 rpm and a serious 567 lb-ft of torque which is available from only 1,960 rpm. It's the torque delivery that makes the Panamera Turbo feel so deceptively fast, but with a redline close to seven grand, the car will pull happily to the rev limit. The Mercedes-AMG S63, on the other hand, offers a whole 664 lb-ft of torque, nearly a hundred more, and one can definitely feel the difference on the streets. The Panamera sends its power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that snaps gears into place with crisp efficiency when plundering down the road but can settle down to offer relaxed shifts on demand.
The Panamera Turbo handles unlike any other full-size luxury car we've driven and is most certainly the class leader in this regard. Get behind the steering wheel, dive into a corner, and be amazed at just how well the Panamera grips. It makes itself feel like a smaller car and is planted firmly to the road, thanks in part to an active aero rear spoiler with four adjustments. Porsche has made extensive use of aluminum in the suspension setup to keep weight down, and the whole deal is controlled by Porsche's 4D-Chassis Control system that actively gathers data and makes adjustments to the suspension to better match your driving style at that specific moment. The Panamera is great whether you appreciate a stiff and sporty suspension setup, or prefer a GT cruising feel; it can do both quite convincingly. Bringing everything to a stop is done without fanfare; six-pot front and four-pot rear calipers stop the Panamera Turbo on a dime, time after time. Executive models get rear-axle steering, which further enhances the driving appeal of this large Porsche.
Manufacturers are on an endless crusade to bring down fuel consumption numbers while maintaining or even improving performance, and we can see that in the modern trend of small-capacity turbocharged engines, but what about high-performance sports cars that can get up to sixty in under four seconds? Much to our surprise, the Panamera Turbo will manage a completely acceptable 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined. The BMW M5, a slightly smaller but more powerful car can't come near the Porsche; it will only manage 15/21/17 mpg. With reasonably good fuel economy figures and a large 23.7-gallon fuel tank, the 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo has a maximum range of around 498 miles.
Step inside the 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo and you're met with an interior that matches the price tag; everything feels like it has been crafted with impeccable attention to detail, and it feels more luxury GT cruiser than hardcore supercar. Get behind the steering wheel, and you'll realize just how low you sit; this is no school bus. The dashboard design is slightly clinical but should age well. Standard features for 2020 include a leather interior, a two-zone climate control system with separate temperature settings for driver and front passenger; a power-adjustable steering column, auto-dimming interior, and exterior mirrors, two USB ports in the rear, and driver assistance features such as front and rear ParkAssist, cruise control, and keyless start and go. Front seats get 14-way power adjustability with heating. Adaptive sports seats with 18-way adjustability are available, as is adjustable LED ambient lighting. Four-zone climate control and eight-way power-adjustable rear seats with heating are standard on Executive models.
The standard front seats in the Panamera Turbo offer great support and feel more GT cruiser than hardcore sports car. With 14-way power adjustability, it's easy to get comfortable behind the steering wheel, and most will be surprised at how low the seating position is. The optional sport seats add four more ways to adjust your seat and also improve overall body support. Executive models add eight-way power adjustability to the rear seats to keep those executives in place when taking a hard corner. Legroom is spacious in the front as well as the back, but if it's limo-levels of space you're after, you'd be best off looking at the stretched-out Executive model.
Porsche offers new owners a multitude of interior materials and colors, so much in fact that we could spend the whole day just configuring our favorite combos in the online builder. Cars come with Alcantara material on the A B, and C-pillars, as well as sun visors and headliner. Leather seats can be had ten colors, including in Black, Agate Grey, Marsala, and Black/Bordeaux Red. Porsche also offers a Club interior in Cohiba Brown or Truffle Brown. For those who want some individuality, Porsche will paint interior panels in the same color as the exterior for $1,170, or why not get your air vents painted in the same color for only $2,330. Wood trim options include Anthracite Birch, Paldao, and Dark Walnut. If you want something more sporty, you can go for the $1,000 interior package, and you can even get a set of carbon fiber floor mats or black-brushed aluminum trim pieces. The options and outcomes are virtually endless.
What's better than a full-size luxury car that can outrun most modern-day sports cars? One that will also carry enough bottles of champagne to intoxicate a small army of Polo players. With the rear seats in the upward position, the Panamera Turbo offers 17.6 cubic feet of trunk space; one of the highest numbers in its class besides the BMW 7 Series's 18.2, but that's not its greatest party trick. Its hatchback-style liftgate lifts up wide, which means access to the cargo area is great. Flip the rear seats down, and the Panamera Turbo will offer a massive 47.3 cubic feet of space, and the Executive an even larger 49.3 cubic feet; something that's unheard of in this category thanks to the hatchback design. Small-item storage is also good; you get two cupholders in the center armrest, two in the rear, a storage bin in the front center and rear console, and a glove box in the front.
The 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo comes standard with a fair amount of features ranging from high-tech suspension parts to luxurious interior appointments, but as is the case with most Porsche cars, you'll have to dig through the options list to find most of your luxury features. The exterior of the Panamera Turbo includes features such as integrated Porsche 4D-chassis control and adaptive air suspension including Porsche active suspension management, as well as a set of 20-inch, forged wheels and six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers, and a panoramic sunroof. The interior features two-zone automatic climate control, 14-way power-adjustable seats with heating front and rear, as well as driver assistance features such as front and rear ParkAssist with reversing camera, keyless start, and stop, HomeLink tech, and auto-dimming mirrors. Executive models add rear-axle steering and soft-close doors on the outside, while inside, you now get four-zone climate control, and eight-way power-adjustable rear seats.
The dashboard of the Panamera Turbo features a seamlessly integrated 12.3-inch infotainment display that displays images in crisp detail. It features Porsche Communication Management which includes navigation, Bluetooth streaming, USB, and Aux-in connection, as well as Apple CarPlay integration (no Android Auto). The Porsche Car Connect service includes Carfinder, remote vehicle status, remote services, and Porsche's vehicle tracking system. Sound is channeled through a standard Bose surround sound system with 14 speakers, including a subwoofer with a total power output of 710 watts. SiriusXM satellite radio and HD Radio are included in the deal, and we found that Love Is The Drug by Roxy Music translated best on this system. For those who want more bang, Porsche offers a high-end Burmeister 3D system with 21 speakers. We found the infotainment system to be over-complicated and confusing to use, especially when driving, but we appreciate the ability of the system to display navigation info on the driver display cluster.
No recalls have been issued for the 2020 Porsche Panamera, but there were a number of recalls that affected cars produced in 2018 and 2019. Some of these issues include brake pad wear sensors malfunctioning, the intermittent loss of power steering assist, and possible brake line corrosion. J.D. Power rates the 2018 Panamera at 80 out of 100 despite its history of recalls. Porsche will back the 2020 Panamera Turbo with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a drivetrain warranty for the same amount of time or distance, as well as a one-year/10,000-miles maintenance plan, and four years/50,000 miles of roadside assistance cover.
The 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo has not had the pleasure of being smashed into tiny bits by either the NHTSA or the IIHS. Although Porsche is known to build impressively safe sports cars, the fact remains that to get most active driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and Porsches excellent night vision assist, you're going to have to cough up some extra dough, which is a hard pill to swallow when looking at an already high price tag.
Unfortunately, the Panamera Turbo omits many of the active driver assistance features we've come to expect to come as standard in this class, but traditional passive safety systems are still in place. Up front, you get LED headlights with front corner lights with LED position light and direction indicators, as well as a serious performance braking system, 12 airbags, and a four-door side impact protection system. Standard active driver assistance features include front and rear ParkAssist and cruise control. For added safety, new owners can opt for the $5,370 assistance package, which adds lane-keep assist, night vision assistance, and adaptive cruise control.
The simple truth about the 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo is that it's a maddeningly fast, gung-ho supercar camouflaged as a luxury executive that should be used for transporting important people to important places. It's a wolf in an Armani suit. Its twin-turbocharged V8 engine delivers breathtaking acceleration and in-gear performance, which makes it feel much faster than the numbers suggest. As if that is not enough, the Panamera Turbo will waft around in refined luxury when not pushed, and with a large trunk and cargo area is practical too. The cabin has been meticulously crafted and is one of the nicest in its class. What we struggle to get over is the omission of Android Auto, and some basic active driver safety systems such as blind spot monitoring and pedestrian detection. Yes, it may be pricey, and the options might be pricier still, but it's probably the best full-sized performance executives ever made, even if it's not quite as opulent as an S63.
The base price of the 2020 Porsche Panamera is a large number, but it should be mentioned that you're paying for a car with class-leading performance, handling, and practicality. The base price will also see a big jump as most owners will select at least one or two added options, and those who want a fully-loaded car will have to wipe the tears off of their bank manager's pale little cheeks. The base Panamera Turbo will set you back $153,000, which does not include registration, tax, and a destination fee of $1,350. The larger and better-specced Executive goes for over $10,000 more at $163,400. These prices are well over $50,000 more than the ever-capable BMW M5 but are closely matched by the Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan.
The 2020 Porsche Panamera Turbo is available in two trims, namely the base Turbo, and the stretched-out Executive model. Both cars share the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 producing 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. Both models also share an eight-speed PDK auto transmission, adaptive suspension, and adaptive rear aero. The base model, which shares most of its features with the Executive, gets a power moonroof and LED lighting on the outside. The interior of the base model features two-zone climate control, cruise control, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and a Bose surround sound system with 14 speakers. Standard driver assistance features include cruise control and front and rear ParkAssist. Executive models add rear-axle steering, soft-touch door handles, and eight-way power-adjustable rear seats, along with a stretched wheelbase adding extra inches to the rear legroom.
Yes, you get a lot of luxury, but in typical Porsche fashion, most of the exciting features are kept on the options list. And boy, what an options list it is. Let's start with the exterior, where you can select between 17 set color options, or why not mix your own? There are a total of 13 wheel designs to choose from, and a limitless amount of exterior detail options such as painted air intake grilles and carbon-fiber mirrors. Officially there are three packages on offer, including the $2,790 Premium Package Plus which adds lane change assist, seat ventilation in the front, LED-matrix headlights, and soft-close doors. The $5,580 Sport Package includes rear-axle steering, the Sport Chrono package, which by itself adds features such as Sport Plus drive mode and an analog-digital stopwatch, and a sport exhaust system. The $5,370 Assistance Package adds adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and night vision assist.
The choice here is simple: if you need the extra legroom and luxury touches offered in the Executive model, then that's what you should get, but for everyone else, the standard Turbo will do. Featuring the same twin-turbocharged V8 engine and adaptive suspension, the standard car only misses out on the rear axle steering system, which can be added as an optional extra. If we had the money, we would get the standard Panamera Turbo in Volcano Grey metallic with a set of 21-inch SportDesign wheels and a scattering of carbon fiber on the exterior. Inside, we would get the sport seats with 18-way adjustment. We would also add the Sport Package, which adds rear-axle steering, a sport exhaust system, and the Sport Chrono package, which adds a more hardcore driving mode and launch control. Finally, we'd invest in the Assistance Package, which adds lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and night vision assist.
The M5 is an absolute legend in the history of performance saloon cars, and is, to this day, one of the leaders in its class. Under the hood of the 2020 M5 lies a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto transmission. The BMW M5 is one of the Panamera Turbo's closest rivals in terms of dynamic ability; it accelerates at a blinding rate, getting to sixty in only 3.2 seconds, and can be set to rear-wheel-drive mode which increases the fun factor. That 4.4-liter engine has also been underquoted on power. When not belting around a track, the M5 offers a fairly luxurious, if not slightly hard-edged, drive quality that feels on par or even better than the Porsche. Inside, you get a stunning interior that looks and feels more modern than the Porsche, and you also get more features as standard, but we were disappointed with its lack of steering feel and pricey options. Costing over $50,000 less than the Panamera Turbo, it's a performance bargain that just can't be ignored.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan is a heavyweight boxer that delivers knockout blows time after time. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which it shares with the GT line of supercars, delivers 603 hp and a massive 664 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to see a zero to sixty sprint time of 3.5 seconds. From the outside, the S63 looks like it hasn't aged a day, and should go down as one of the best-looking S-Class sedans ever made. What we really like about the S63 Sedan is its hauntingly beautiful engine sound, which is miles better than the Porsche, and we also love the fact that it feels like a bullet train in a straight line. Ride comfort and refinement are excellent, and sitting inside one feels like you're sitting in the lobby of a six-star hotel. The S63 also offers one of the most comprehensive available safety suites in its class. We don't like that it's not as dynamic to drive as the Porsche or BMW M5, and the fact that it's up for replacement soon. Give us the Porsche then - we're gearheads after all.
Check out some informative Porsche Panamera Turbo video reviews below.