Before everyone begins the debate, let's consider the following: Porsche has continuously proven itself to be one of the finest sports car makers ever. Period. With a long history of race and road cars, Porsche no longer needs to prove to the world that it knows what it's doing. Considering that almost every sports car competitor designs a new model with the 911 as a benchmark, Porsche is clearly at the top of their game.
Having introduced the Cayenne SUV back in 2002, the German automaker is unafraid of exploring new autos genres. And once again, the Cayenne has become a sales hit and is considered the "sport" SUV of the market. Combined with the Boxster and Cayman models, Porsche understands what makes a sports car. With the introduction of the 4-door Panamera, Porsche is betting its cards that the public is ready for something different. With Aston Martin's all-new Rapide 4-door, the market is becoming hot for high-performance and exclusive sedans.
The question is though, how necessary are they? The Panamera is an ugly duckling. You either love or hate it, but only a mother could love something this ugly. There is no grace in the design and it looks like a widened and bloated 911. Compared to the Rapide, there is no competition in the looks department. The Rapide has a sleek and long appearance. While rear seat room is compromised, at least the thing looks absolutely stunning. Aston Martins also appeal to a slightly different crowd than Porsche.
They have a sophistication that appeals to James Bond and performance that can dance at the track. However, Porsche is the true definite sports car. They have set the benchmark so high that it's hard to image seeing them outdo themselves (and yet they always do so). That said, does Porsche need the Panamera in its lineup or should they stick strictly to their 2-door sports cars (and one SUV). Only the sales numbers will tell.