Porsche Panamera


Debut: 2016
Maker: Porsche
Predecessor: Panamera Mk1



 Published on 8 Sep 2016
All rights reserved. 

The first Panamera lacked style and driver engagement. Can the Mk2 have these sorted out?


The first generation Panamera had mainly two problems: firstly, it looked huge, bulky and ungainly. Secondly, although it was certainly very fast, it was not very engaging to drive. Both sounded very un-Porsche. However, its concept was basically correct. It enabled the famous sports car manufacturer to expand its business into luxury car class traditionally dominated by Mercedes, BMW and the like all the while maintaining a clear performance edge. Moreover, it was relatively cost-effective to build because it shared a lot of components with Cayenne, including powertrains, suspension and all-wheel-drive system. This means it was capable to breakeven with annual sales down to 12,000 units. Although it turned out to be not as popular as Cayenne, it still managed to sell nearly 160,000 units over its 7-and-a-half-year lifespan. This secures the development of second generation.


More stylish than the last Panamera? Yes, but it fails to replicate the beauty of 928...


Naturally, the most important task for Michael Mauer is to improve the aesthetic of the new Panamera. There is no way to touch the car’s huge dimensions, which actually get slightly larger again to provide ample interior space and pack the sophisticated ingredients, but good designers should find ways to hide the bulk and deliver a false impression of sleekness. I would not declare the works of Mauer as miraculous, but it is unquestionably more successful than last time. If you compare the side profile of the old and new car, you will find the latter appears to be sleeker. Both its roof line and shoulder line are curvier. The tailgate gets faster, the tail gets slimmer and the overall look of the back end is more akin to 911. The reshaped side window looks more like 911’s as well, although it necessitates an extra quarter window. Meanwhile, the more pronounced rear fenders look sportier. The front end styling is also an improvement, although not quite as obvious as the rear. The bonnet and front bumper get edgier. The headlamps get larger and more pronounced from the bonnet in order to appear more like 911. However, since the bonnet has to accommodate a big engine, it still appears to be a bit bulky. It is quite disappointing that the Panamera fails to replicate the sleek front end of the classic 928. Yes, I know the packaging constraints are different now and then (for instance, the hot-Vee engine is inevitably taller), and pedestrian safety regulations play a role, too, but still I can’t help feeling sorry that modern cars get uglier.


Its roof line and shoulder line are curvier. The tailgate gets faster, the tail gets slimmer...


The Mk2 Panamera has grown a little in all dimensions – 79mm longer, 6mm wider, 5mm taller and 30mm longer in wheelbase. It is still shorter than all other performance luxury limousines, but wider than all except Maserati Quattroporte. Its 1427 mm height is easily the lowest in the class and is a clear indication to its sportier character. The slightly longer rear overhang enables the boot to grow by 50 liters to 495 liters. Meanwhile, aerodynamic drag is unchanged from the old car, i.e. 0.29 for most models or 0.30 for the range-topping Turbo. A rear spoiler normally recessed at the tailgate pops up at speed to cut lift. On the Turbo, it also extends sideway to increase downforce further.

The new platform underpinning the car is called MSB. It is developed by Porsche but will be shared with various Bentleys in the future. Body construction is not a big departure from the last one though. It is still primarily made of steel, with aluminum used as supporting roles in areas such as crash structure, subframes and suspension towers. The outer shell is mostly aluminum, including roof, bonnet, tailgate and fenders. If you expected it to reduce weight like the rest of the industry, you will be disappointed. At 1995 kg, the Panamera Turbo is hardly a lightweight. In fact, it weighs the same as the outgoing Turbo S which had the same power output. The base V6 model also weighs exactly the same as before. So MSB is new, but we can’t see any advancement it brings except the cost-saving modular nature.


The overall look of the back end is more akin to 911.


Changes to the suspension are also rather subtle. The double-wishbone front and multi-link rear axles are basically carried over, ditto the PASM adaptive dampers, PDCC active anti-roll bars and PTV-Plus torque vectoring differential. The most significant change is the air suspension (standard on Turbo and optional to others), which has been upgraded to a 3-chamber design like the new Mercedes E-class for 60 percent increase of air capacity hence wider range of variation. Another addition is rear-wheel steering, but it is not exactly a headline because BMW already has it on its 7-Series, not to mention cheaper cars like Renault Megane, Talisman and Acura RLX. The last mentionable new item is the so-called “4D Chassis Control”, which is actually a software thing that integrates the PASM, PDCC, PTV-Plus etc. together. The 4-wheel-drive system is carried over from the old car as well. It uses a multi-plate clutch located just behind the transmission to send torque to the front axle, so the torque-split continues to be rear-biased by default.

AWD is mandatory on all the 3 Panamera models available at launch: Panamera 4S (powered by V6 turbo), 4S Diesel (V8 turbo diesel) and Turbo (V8 turbo). The Turbo employs a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, which is 800 c.c. smaller than before but no less powerful. It is developed in Weissach although it has many similarities with Audi’s 4-liter V8. Both feature hot-Vee architecture, i.e. the two twin-scroll turbochargers are mounted inside the V-valley for compact packaging and reduced turbo lag, while the cooler intakes breath from outside. Also like the Audi V8, it features cylinder deactivation by means of Audi's Valvelift mechanism, although misleadingly dubbed VarioCam Plus. In other words, it uses moving pins and spiral grooves to switch between normal and zero valve lift, therefore shutting down 4 of the 8 cylinders. Running a maximum boost pressure of 1.3 bar, the engine produces 550 horsepower from a rather modest 5750 rpm. Peak torque of 568 pound-foot is available between 1960 and 4500 rpm. (Remark: many publications quoted the boost pressure as 0.3 bar, which is obviously impossible judging from the engine's very high specific power and torque.) As a result, performance is astonishing for such a big car. It would sprint from rest to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and 100 mph in just over 8 seconds, faster than a 911 Carrera S turbo! It would top 190 mph on Autobahn, or lap Nurburgring in 7 min 38 sec. The latter trails Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio by only 6 seconds. This is the fastest luxury sedan in the world.


Despite more aluminum used in its construction, Panamera Turbo still weighs a good 2 tons.


The 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 of Panamera 4S is derived from the same modular family of the V8, but strangely, it was developed by Audi and is closely related to the 3-liter single-turbo V6 of Audi S4. Needless to say, it also employs hot-Vee architecture and 90-degree V-angle – the latter necessitates the addition of a balancer shaft to smooth out vibration. Running up to 1.4 bar boost pressure, it produces 440 hp and 406 lbft of torque, not quite in the same league as the aforementioned Alfa Romeo Giulia QF but is nonetheless powerful (think of 959 power from a similar capacity). The car tops 179 mph and achieves 0-60 mph in 4.1 sec.

The Panamera 4S Diesel is quite a super oil-burner. Its 4-liter diesel V8 is sourced from Audi and derived from the similar motor serving SQ7, but it is stripped of e-booster (electric compressor), leaving the sequential twin-VTG turbochargers to produce 422 hp and 664 lbft of torque – the latter is available from as low as 1000 rpm! Even though the car weighs some 2050 kg, it is good for 177 mph and 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. In other words, the fastest diesel car in the world.

All 3 engines mate with a new 8-speed PDK twin-clutch gearbox supplied by ZF. Don't be too excited with its increased ratios, because it still reaches top speed at 6th, whereas 7th and 8th are overdrive to save fuel. Manual gearbox? Sorry, it died together with the last generation Panamera GTS.

On the Road


Gloss-black touch-sensitive panel looks much simpler and more modern, but touch-sensitive buttons could be difficult to find when you are driving.


Open the door, you will find a spacious and properly luxurious cabin. You sit low on the supportive bucket seat, facing a 918-style steering wheel (with plenty of handy switches) and a modern instrument consisting of a conventional tachometer flanked by a pair of LCD screens. Interestingly, those screens can be reconfigured to display Porsche’s traditional 5-gauge instrument together with the tachometer. The center console is dominated by a large, 12.3-inch touch screen and a gloss-black touch-sensitive panel, which looks much simpler and more modern than the button-rich console of the old car, although touch-sensitive buttons could be difficult to find when you are driving. The materials and craftsmanship are no match with Mercedes S-class, of course, and the design is rather unimaginative, but the build quality of Porsche is never in doubt. At the back, the individual rear seats are inevitably less spacious than the usual standards of luxury limousines, but passengers up to 6ft 4in will find them comfortable. Although the roof line has been lowered at the rear for styling purpose, the new car has its seats mounted lower thus it still offers ample headroom. Legroom is also more than adequate for those 6ft 4 guys. Entertainment provided to them is not as generous, as there is only a small screen at the rear transmission tunnel. Forget about airliner seats, massagers, folding tables or wine cabinet. This is a Porsche, not Maybach.

Start the V8 engine, it burbles into life in a civilized manner. With optional sport exhaust it might be a little louder than Audi’s V8, but still it is too civilized for a Porsche, even a luxurious one. The turbocharged V8s of Mercedes-AMG and Maserati sound angrier and more thrilling. As it is quite subdued, and the cabin’s sound insulation is quite effective, the Panamera Turbo feels slower than it is. In absolute terms it might be as fast as some supercars, but unfortunately you can’t feel that. Comparatively, the V6 feels peppier. It is smooth yet strong enough, and it makes a more exciting whine at the top end. The lighter car also feels more nimble. In contrast, the V8 diesel is all about low-end torque, instant acceleration and relaxed cruising. It’s a great diesel engine but not necessarily a great Porsche engine. No complaints for the 8-speed PDK gearbox as it serves up quick and smooth gearchanges. Moreover, it is capable to handle up to 738 lbft of torque, cool!


Individual rear seats are inevitably less spacious than the usual standards of luxury limousines, but those up to 6ft 4in will find them comfortable.


The most impressive of the new Panamera is its ground-covering capability. It cruises at high speed with immense stability, composure and quietness. Its air suspension glides over expansion joints and speed bumps with ease. In corner, the grip it produces and the resistance to pitch and roll is well beyond the levels of any other performance limousines. Push it harder and you can feel the power shifts forward to stablise the car, but the rear rubbers refuse to give up. Now you understand why it could do so well in Nurburgring. The new electrical power steering is quick and precise, letting the big car to feel smaller than it is in twisty roads. Nevertheless, it is still short of communication with the front wheels. Moreover, like anything else in the class, the sheer size of the car prevents the driver from pushing on narrow country roads. You will be happier to push a BMW M5 on the same roads.

In many ways, the Panamera seems like a car for every situation. It serves the roles of luxury limousine, Autobahn missile and Nurburgring hero equally well. However, as a Porsche, the driving thrills it brings are modest. A more communicative steering, more characterful exhaust note and maybe a bit more interactive chassis balance could be the answer. The slightly bulky front-end design and the disciplined interior design fail to inspire excitement as well. As a result, it has to settle with 4-star rating, even though it is undoubtedly the most capable performance luxury sedan currently on offer.
Verdict: 
 Published on 19 Jan 2016
All rights reserved. 
Panamera 4 E-Hybrid


Faster, greener and offers a longer EV range, the new E-Hybrid improves on every aspect, except weight.


This is the second generation Panamera E-Hybrid, or the plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche performance limousine. The “4” in its name implies that it has gained 4-wheel-drive system as standard, just like all other derivatives of Panamera. Its powertrain looks similar to the one of its predecessor, but it is actually brand new. The 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 is taken from Panamera 4S, but detuned to 330 horsepower and 332 lbft of torque for the interest of fuel economy. The electric motor is installed inside the housing of the 8-speed PDK gearbox, which replaces the old car’s Tiptronic automatic. It produces another 136 hp and 295 lbft, a significant improvement from the old car’s 95 hp and 228 lbft. As a result, the combined output is lifted by 46 ponies to 462 hp, and maximum torque surges from 435 to 516 lbft. Unsurprisingly, the new E-Hybrid is faster. It takes 4.4 seconds to go from zero to sixty, and flat out at 172 mph on Autobahn, though it still trails the Panamera 4S a little bit.

Not just quicker, the new E-Hybrid improves on virtually every aspect. Its boot-mounted battery is enlarged from 9.4 to 14.1 kWh, enabling the EV range to be extended from 36 to 50 km (31 miles). Like the rest of the Panamera range, the new car looks relatively stylish, has air suspension fitted standard for better ride quality, and its cabin is roomier, more advanced and better built. The only drawback is additional weight. It tips the scale at an eye-popping 2170 kg DIN, some 95 kg more than its predecessor, and a full 300 kg heftier than Panamera 4S!



Still a very competent luxury car, but not fast or engaging enough to win driver's heart.


On the road, the electric-petrol power integration is close to seamless, just as you would expect for a properly-developed hybrid nowadays. However, when the V6 breaks the electric silence, its does that with a gruffy soundtrack, which is a stark contrast to the superb refinement you enjoyed before. The PDK box is slightly disappointing, too, as it does not shift as smoothly as the old Tiptronic or the versions on other Panameras. Still, there is plenty of performance on offer. While the old car needed at least 80 percent throttle travel to engage the electric motor, the new car has the electric power available constantly. Its 516 lbft of maximum torque is available from merely 1100 rpm and sustains until 4500 rpm, so the car feels effortlessly quick. It becomes less energetic when the battery is depleted, but you have to do some very hard laps to reach that state, which is something not expected to happen often on a limousine like this.

However, the weight does handicap its handling a little. No Panameras could be described as truly agile, but the E-Hybrid feels even less so than the lighter 4S. It serves the role of Autobahn cruiser very well, but on a narrow twisty mountain road, you feel its width and its weight hurting its maneuverability. Like all its siblings, its steering is accurate but lacks feel. Its chassis offers good grip and body control but none of the throttle steer of a performance sedan deserves. An M5 or E63 must be far more engaging to drive. Worse still, its bland of mechanical and regenerative braking is flawed. The first few centimeters of the brake pedal travel feels soft, and then it suddenly firms up when the brake pads finally touch the discs. Porsche did the braking perfectly in 918 Spyder, but that car has a direct-drive motor at the front axle thus could be easier to tune.

All in all, the E-Hybrid is the least rewarding to drive among its siblings. It is still a very competent luxury car, but if you want performance and thrills, you had better to look elsewhere. Curiously, Porsche prices the car slightly below the 4S, even though it shares that car’s V6 and adds the expensive battery and electric components. It must be sold at a heavy incentive.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Panamera 4S
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque + aluminum
Aluminum
5049 / 1937 / 1423 mm
2950 mm
V6, 90-degree
2894 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT+VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
440 hp / 5650-6600 rpm
406 lbft / 1750-5500 rpm
8-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 265/45ZR19
R: 295/40ZR19
1870 kg
179 mph (c)
4.1 (c)
10.0 (c)
Panamera 4S Diesel
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque + aluminum
Aluminum
5049 / 1937 / 1423 mm
2950 mm
V8, 90-degree, diesel
3956 cc
DOHC 32 valves
Sequential VTG twin-turbo
CDI
422 hp / 3500-5000 rpm
627 lbft / 1000-3250 rpm
8-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 265/45ZR19
R: 295/40ZR19
2050 kg
177 mph (c)
4.2 (c) / 4.1**
10.4 (c) / 10.3**
Panamera Turbo
2016
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque + aluminum
Aluminum
5049 / 1937 / 1427 mm
2950 mm
V8, 90-degree
3996 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI, cylinder deactivation
550 hp / 5750-6000 rpm
568 lbft / 1960-4500 rpm
8-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
F: 275/40ZR20
R: 315/35ZR20
1995 kg
190 mph (c)
3.5 (c)
8.1 (c)




Performance tested by: **Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
2017
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel monocoque + aluminum
Aluminum
5049 / 1937 / 1423 mm
2950 mm
V6, 90-degree + electric motor
2894 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT+VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
330 hp + 136 hp = 462 hp
332 lbft + 295 lbft = 516 lbft
8-speed twin-clutch
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 265/45ZR19
R: 295/40ZR19
2170 kg
173 mph (c)
4.4 (c)
10.7 (c)




















































Performance tested by: -





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