The athletic sedan finally looks as fast as it really is.
Porsche really likes contradiction. To them, it isn't madness, it's courage. Or at least that's the point that the German automaker was really trying to drive home at the unveiling of its newest car, the next-generation Panamera. The first four-door sports car from the company went on sale in 2009, and true to the general unwritten rules of the industry, 2016 should be the year of change. This is hard for Porsche because the first time around, it got things right in a big way. OK, it didn't exactly get everything right. Yeah, you know what we're talking about.
Despite cringeworthy looks, the first generation of Panamera combined luxury and famous Porsche performance in a way that was hard to argue with. Neither are its sales figures for that matter because 150,000 Panameras have been sold (so far). Now, the second iteration of the car attempts to address the few minor wrongs of the first while bringing it ahead of the competition. As with most cars nowadays, the only err that the first car committed (aside from the bulbous rear end) is that it polluted too much for regulators' tastes. The new car addresses this with three engine options. Following the current industry trend, all of the engines feature forced induction by way of two turbochargers.
The smallest engine, available in the base 4S, makes 440 horsepower using 2.9-liters divided among six cylinders. This enables it to stampede the 4,114-pound Porsche from 0-60 mph in 4.4-seconds (4.2 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package) on its way to a 180 mph top speed. Don't look to the larger 4.0-liter diesel V8 for faster acceleration because the 422 horsepower unit makes the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.5-seconds or 4.3 with the Sport Chrono box ticked. For the spark plug-free engine, acceleration relents at 178 mph. Those wanting a gut-punching experience must opt for the Panamera Turbo, which wields a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 550 horsepower and enabling launches from 0-60 mph in only 3.8 seconds and pulling hard until 191 mph.
As with the other two engines, acceleration time drops two tenths of a second to 3.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono package. Each engine comes mated to an eight-speed PDK transmission, which routes the resulting twist through all four wheels. The eco-conscious will be happy to learn that two plug-in hybrid models will soon follow the initial three. Of course we already knew that Porsche would deliver when it came to the car's performance, but the real question had to do with aesthetics. The previous Panamera proved to the world that contrary to what Nicki Minaj and Sir Mix-A-Lot claim, big butts aren't always better. This time around, a 911-esque roofline extends to the rear where it flows off unimpeded by an awkward bulge.
The look is helped by a wheelbase that extends an extra 3 cm, all of which is allotted to the rear to help the Panamera's gran coupe image. Tucked under the refined rear end is a spoiler that extends at speed to keep the rear wheels planted. Those who frequent the first class seats on a plane should find the interior appealing. The restyled cabin features a bevy of technology including a 12" touchscreen up front and another touchscreen for the rear passengers to play with. To help balance comfort and sporting abilities, an adjustable air suspension is available, as is Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and rear axle steering. In addition to these mechanical driver aids, there are a few digital ones that should cut down on headaches.
Most notable is the semi-autonomous traffic jam assist feature that operates at speeds all the way up to 37 mph. While these features help the aluminum-bodied machine in the city, the Panamera is born ready for the race track. In fact, this four-door sports car managed to squeeze a Nurburgring lap time of 7 minutes and 38 seconds, making it a car that is well worth the wait for speed freaks. The wait will be short as the new Panamera goes on sale in January of 2017 with a starting price of $101,040 for the 4S and $147,950 for the Turbo. While the new Panamera picks up where the previous car left off, it may also allude to the approach Porsche will take with the upcoming Mission E Concept. Either way, we like the results and can't wait to see it on the road.
To see how the sedan conquers the Nurburgring with a time that would make many sports cars jealous, Porsche has shared this tidbit of footage for us.