It might have taken Porsche a while to build a sedan, but now that they have, it's here to stay.
The Panamera is one of those interesting cars that you see sometimes from marques like Porsche. The purists hate it, the press calls it ugly, and then Porsche sells them in truckloads. Go figure. This is even more true of the Cayenne, but the Panamera has made Porsche quite a lot of money, and we're just going to have to accept that the definition of a Porsche is a little bit wider these days. But that's not to say that the Panamera is a bad car, because it really isn't.
The seed of the Panamera could said to have been planted 21 years before the car actually entered production. It was 1988 when Porsche brought out the 989 concept, basically a four-door version of the 928. It had a V8, rear-wheel-drive, four doors and a weird fastback body style, all things that can be found on the Panamera. The project had sounded viable in the mid-Eighties, but when the project leader left Porsche in 1991 and 928 sales began to decline, Porsche rethought the whole thing, ultimately killing it off in 1992. But things changed considerably over just the next ten years.
Porsche brought out the Cayenne SUV in 2002, which would prove to be a massive hit. Since an SUV is an even bigger departure from the Porsche norm than a sedan, Porsche felt perfectly safe bringing out the Panamera in 2009. The car has been a hit for Porsche, not quite to Cayenne levels, but the money the Cayenne has brought in is the kind of thing Porsche executives used to dream about. Size-wise, it is somewhere between a mid-size and a full-size sedan, certainly enough space for four full-grown adults. It is offered with a variety of different engines, ranging from a 250-horsepower diesel V6 to a 550-hp twin-turbo V8 in the Panamera Turbo S.
It isn't a light car, weighing nearly 4,000lbs, and obviously lacks the pure sports credentials of the 911. But the Turbo S can still hit 60mph in just 3.8 seconds, and that's not just good for a sedan, it's good full stop. The purists have whined about the existence of the Panamera, and even if we may have a few such purists on the staff here at CarBuzz, it has to be said that they'll complain about anything. Porsche has obviously become a much more profitable company since it stopped listening to such complaints, and cars like the Panamera aren't going anywhere.
On the other hand, Porsche didn't have to make the styling quite so... we'll call it controversial. The back end in particular has inspired a fair amount of angry commentary from even those who were never especially big Porsche fans before. But when viewed from the inside, the Panamera is a perfectly pleasant place to be. The $76,000 base price is pretty reasonable as well, and this brings us to another point. If you were wondering why the Panamera and the Quattroporte are in the series but the Aston Martin Rapide isn't, the reason is its $210,000 base price.
The Rapide just costs so much more than anything else we've covered that we're going to have to save it for another series. The Panamera still qualifies as a normal mainstream luxury sedan. Porsche recently confirmed that it would be building a Panamera coupe, which would essentially be a spiritual successor to the 928 and thus bring the Panamera full circle. There is almost certainly a bigger market for such a car these days, and it will be interesting to see how the sales stack up to those of the 911. But no matter what, expect to see more Porsche models in the future.