Full 2013 Porsche Panamera Review
What's New for 2013
For the 2013 Porsche Panamera, a new GTS model fills the gap between 4S and Turbo, while a Platinum version of the base V6 car also debuts.
The 2013 Porsche Panamera luxury sport sedan carries an ever-expanding portfolio of performance credentials. The Panamera lineup now includes rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, naturally aspirated and turbocharged models. There's even a gasoline-electric Panamera S Hybrid.
For 2013, Porsche fills the almost-imperceptible gap between the 4S and Turbo models with the new Panamera GTS that has attributes of its bookend brethren in one specially configured sedan. And this year also brings a fancier version of the entry-level V6 car, dubbed Platinum. These latest additions bring the impressive Panamera lineup to a total of 10 cars from which to choose. Among them, the list prices are separated by a cavernous $100,000, while engine output ranges from a respectable 300 horsepower to an awe-inspiring 550 hp.
Regardless of model, the interior of the Panamera is at once luxurious and purposeful. With uncharacteristically comfortable seating for four adults, the utility of this sport sedan is further aided by the unique hatchback configuration that allows for ample luggage space or, when needed, generous cargo capacity when its rear seats are folded forward.
All models are well equipped for their price points, and Porsche has now made Bluetooth connectivity standard across the entire model line. As is the case with this luxury sport sedan segment -- and with Porsche in particular -- options can accumulate quickly and inflate the bottom line. Those options include luxurious items such as heated and ventilated articulating rear seats, video screens, dynamic enhancements like active suspension and carbon-ceramic brake discs, and the latest technology such as blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
In terms of competition, the 2013 BMW 7 Series, 2013 Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte and 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class are all worthy of consideration. Most are prettier, some are more stately and some are better bargains. Yet the 2013 Porsche Panamera is our pick for a car that delivers more of everything to everybody.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Porsche Panamera is a four-door four-passenger sedan with a hatchback-style trunk. There are 10 trim levels: Base, Platinum, Base 4, Platinum 4, S Hybrid, S, 4S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S.
The base rear-wheel-drive Panamera is powered by a V6 and includes 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a power rear hatch and auto-dimming mirrors.
Standard features within the cabin include dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a chilled glovebox, partial leather upholstery and a 60/40-split rear seatback. Also standard are a navigation system and an 11-speaker sound system with Bluetooth, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. The Panamera 4 differs only in that it has all-wheel drive. The Panamera S Hybrid is also very similarly equipped.
The Platinum and Platinum 4 trims are similar to their base brethren but dress things up and increase the luxury factor by adding 19-inch Turbo-style wheels, bi-xenon headlights, special exterior accents, upgraded leather upholstery, 14-way power seats, heated front and rear seats, front and rear park assist, a navigation system, a sport steering wheel (with paddle shifters) and unique door sill trim plates.
The V8-powered Panamera S and all-wheel-drive 4S include all of the features found in the non-hybrid base V6 models, plus an adaptive suspension, heated front seats, adaptive headlights and additional interior lighting.
The V8-powered GTS receives a 30-horsepower increase over the 4S, and blends all of its features with many from the Turbo. For instance, standard items include 19-inch wheels, 18-way active front seats with faux-suede inserts, a sport-design steering wheel with paddle shifting, and specific interior and exterior trim.
As their names suggest, the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S add a turbocharged V8, 19-inch wheels (20 inches on Turbo S), an adaptive air suspension (with load-leveling and adjustable ride height), front parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, 14-way power front seats with adjustable lumbar support, expanded driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering column, heated rear seats, a full leather interior, a microfiber suede headliner and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and HD functionality.
In typical Porsche tradition, a very lengthy and expensive list of options allows buyers to easily customize the cars. For example, other than their engines, all of the extra features of the Turbo model are available on the S and 4S.
Other options include adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist, ceramic-composite brakes, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (adaptive antiroll bars and a limited-slip rear differential), a rear windshield wiper, ventilated front and rear seats, eight-way power rear seats (switches seat-folding to 40/20/40), adaptive sport front seats that include adjustable side bolsters, "ruffled" leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, rear sunshades, rear ambient lighting, a rear-seat entertainment system, a rear-seat refrigerator, a rearview camera, voice control, a six-CD changer and a 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system.
The Sport Chrono Package Plus adds analog and digital stopwatches and adjustable engine and suspension settings. The Sport Design package dresses up the Panamera's exterior with a special front fascia with wider intake grilles and side skirts. There are also countless ways to customize practically every interior surface with different shades of leather, wood, metal, carbon fiber and paint.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Porsche Panamera and Panamera 4 are powered by a front-mounted 3.6-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. In recent testing by Edmunds, the base Panamera V6 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
One notable feature on all Panameras is an auto stop-start function that reduces fuel consumption by shutting off the engine whenever the car comes to a stop and then restarting it automatically when you're ready to proceed. The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the base Panamera, while the Panamera 4 makes 18/26/21 mpg.
The Porsche Panamera S and 4S receive a 4.8-liter V8 good for 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The V8-powered Panamera 4S impressed us with a 0-60-mph run of 4.6 seconds. The V8-powered Panamera S and 4S are both rated at 16/24/19 mpg. The GTS's 430-hp 4.8-liter V8 makes 384 lb-ft of torque and suffers only a small fuel penalty with its 16/23/19 mpg. The new GTS was incrementally quicker than the 4S and our testing produced a 0-60-mph time of 4.1 seconds.
The Panamera Turbo gets a twin-turbocharged version of the same V8 for a grand total of 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Adding the optional Sport Chrono Turbo package temporarily increases torque to 568 lb-ft with a turbo overboost. The new Turbo S dials output up to 550 hp and 553 lb-ft (590 lb-ft with overboost). The Panamera Turbo and Turbo S left us awestruck, turning in identical 3.7-second blasts to 60 mph. These Turbo models achieve only 15/23/18 mpg.
Every gasoline-only Panamera is equipped with a seven-speed double-clutch automated manual transmission. The Panamera and Panamera S offer rear-wheel drive, while the Panamera 4, 4S and Turbo are equipped with all-wheel drive.
The Panamera S Hybrid receives a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that is paired with a 35kW electric motor for a combined maximum output of 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is an eight-speed automatic with manual shift control that sends power to the rear wheels. The Panamera S Hybrid accelerated to 60 mph in a very respectable 5.2 seconds. Naturally, the hybrid generates the most favorable fuel economy numbers, at an estimated 22/30/25 mpg.
Every 2013 Porsche Panamera comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Ceramic-composite brakes and a rearview camera are optional. With the standard brakes, both the Panamera 4S and Turbo models stopped from 60 mph in incredibly short distances: 109 feet and 112 feet, respectively. The Hybrid also posts a 112-foot distance. The GTS equipped with carbon-ceramic brakes stopped repeatedly in 110 fade-free feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
From the driver seat, there's no mistaking the Panamera's interior for anything but a Porsche, because styling cues from the Porsche 911 echo throughout the cabin. The tachometer is centered in the trademark five-ring instrument cluster and flanked by the speedometer, a multifunction display and supporting gauges.
The Panamera lacks a centralized control system like BMW's iDrive, and as a result, there are more than 80 buttons and knobs littering the cockpit. Fortunately, these buttons are logically grouped and placed, and after a short time, operation becomes intuitive. Some might even find the multitude of controls preferable to shuffling through multilevel on-screen menus.
All four seats are similar in appearance and comfort. These well-formed seats have integrated headrests and provide excellent levels of support when cornering as well as plenty of comfort during long-distance touring. The rear quarters afford enough room for tall adults, and the seats can be fitted with options to make them power-adjustable, heated and cooled. The hatchback-style trunk can hold an impressive 15.7 cubic feet (11.8 with the Hybrid) and 44.6 cubes with the rear seats folded flat (the Hybrid S drops to 40.7 cubes). The hatch opening is a bit narrow, though, and the cargo bed is high, complicating the loading of bulkier or heavier items.
The 2013 Porsche Panamera is an accomplished, luxurious grand touring car as well as an engaging, shockingly capable high-performance car. Engine output ranges from the Panamera V6's adequate 300 hp to the Turbo S's mind-blowing 550 hp.
Regardless, every Panamera offers several driving modes to suit a driver's preference or environment. Normal mode endows a soft and leisurely personality, as any European flagship sedan would have. Engaging full Sport mode can sharpen nearly every aspect of the driving dynamics: throttle response, transmission behavior, suspension firmness and ride height. Buyers can further select from a cadre of highly effective performance-enhancing upgrades. From a sporting standpoint, the Hybrid is the least engaging, though it counters with excellent fuel economy and an exceptionally quiet cabin.
The V8-powered Panamera is capable of incredible performance and the turbocharged V8 borders on supercar acceleration. Yet power can be served up in measured increments or muscle-car wallops. The PDK transmission fires off gearchanges with urgency when you're pedaling the accelerator hard, or with seamless and fluid transitions when cruising down the highway. Steering is always precise and handling is comparable to that of much, much smaller sports cars. True, it won't win any beauty contests, but the Porsche Panamera truly does deliver the best of both worlds, sports car and sedan all in one.