Somewhere along the seam where Bavaria licks Austria, the snow-capped Wetterstein mountain range peels past our window at 75 miles per hour. Dotted with farmhouses, goats and free-roaming cattle, it's like something from a fairytale.
But then a distraction pulls our attention back to the instrument panel of the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Executive we're riding in. With a quick flash, the rightmost binnacle has stopped displaying navigation hints and instead shows a gray circle with black stripes extending from the 8 o'clock to 2 o'clock position.
On the Autobahn, this means no speed limit. Our driver takes this prompt as a challenge, drops the hammer and as we pass 150 mph the new Panamera's twin-turbo V6 breathes new life into this previously peaceful setting.
Did You Get Work Done? Look carefully at the above photos of the 2014 Porsche Panamera. Now look again. Notice anything different? Yes? Congratulations! You obviously work for Porsche. Without decoding the VIN or pulling out the tape measure, you wouldn't know that this car has undergone a full refresh.
The front fascia has been tweaked with new, wider intakes and longer, thinner foglights. Out back, the rear window is wider as is the rear spoiler and the license plate bracket has been moved lower. And while the headlights have also been redesigned, it's only noticeable if the vehicle is equipped with the slick optional $2,130 LED headlight kit.
Visually, the biggest difference comes in the form of the 2014 Porsche Panamera Executive models. Offered on the 4S and the Turbo, the Executive package stuffs an extra 5.9 inches of Porsche behind the B-pillar for a slightly shocking $27,300 ($19,800 on the Turbo). The lengthened rear door that offers unfettered access contains a window large enough to front a viewing tank at the aquarium. This model stands out even without reading "Executive" on the doorsill.
Now go back and flip through those photos again. See it? Well, we tried.
Less Is More Is Less Whether you follow the designer's logic that these subtle tweaks make a difference, the engineers made sure you would notice something different about the S, 4S and new 4S Executive.
Pop the hood on the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S and there it is, bold as brass, a V6. Now, this isn't any normal V6 mind you. It's a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected beast of a mill that churns out 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque available from 1,750 rpm.
If you're keeping score, this engine produces 20 more hp than the outgoing 4.8-liter V8 while returning better fuel economy. It's hooked to the same seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic found in the previous Panamera, which has been modified for even greater efficiency.
This is a devilishly tricky engine to quantify due to the nature of this beast and the divergent nature of Panamera owners.
On the one hand, the Prada purse crowd will appreciate the new V6 for its hyper quietness and complete lack of drama. At full throttle in sport mode, there's a slight PHHRRPP! as the only indication that PDK has made a gearchange and a subtle, steady gasp of intake as the 3.0-liter searches for every available molecule of combustible air. If there's an exhaust note, it's one only dogs can hear. At anything less than full sauce, the car could well be electric. The silence is deafening and for this buyer, that's probably perfect.
While Porsche claims the 4S Executive will do zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds (4.5 with Sport Chrono), the exercise is purely academic. It's too easy. Too quiet. Too disconnected. And too reliant upon launch-control trickery. In the half beat it takes this V6 to spool up, the old V8 would already be deafening school kids halfway down the block.
Thankfully, for this driver, the awesome Panamera GTS is still available with its shrieking, rev-happy 4.8-liter, 440-horsepower V8.
But ear-splitting V8s are on the decline and the market is self-selective. So expect to hear more about the V6's 18 percent fuel economy increase than the GTS's 10-hp bump. Especially considering the lengths Porsche went through to achieve it.
PDK as CVT Porsche's approach to fuel economy here is a holistic one that utilizes the entire drivetrain.
The entire range, except for the GTS, has a coasting function that works in tandem with the automatic stop-start. In practice, this is slightly disconcerting as the motor frees itself from the PDK on deceleration and settles into idle. Should the computers predict you'll be decelerating all the way to a stop, the motor will shut down completely before the vehicle has reached a stop, coaxing yet another few feet of travel per drop of fuel. Sport mode turns this feature off.
This stuff's old hat and fairly routine. Porsche's next fuel economy trick, however, is a showstopper.
What's an Intermediate Gear? We're cruising along in 3rd gear at about 2,100 rpm when the revs suddenly drop. The gear indicator on the dash still reads "3," but something's changed. This is Porsche's new "Intermediate Gear" in action.
In short, when conditions are right and when cruising at speeds up to 50 mph, Porsche's dual-clutch PDK turns itself into a CVT. Instead of simply picking the highest gear that would allow continued cruising, the PDK slips the clutch on the current gear and feeds in just enough clutch on the next gear — in this case 4th — to settle the engine in its efficiency peak. Not only does this give greater control over the load on the engine, but allows the main gear to grab again if you even breathe on the throttle. It's seamless.
If you're nervous about this system, you're not alone. The concept of intentionally slipping two clutches at freeway speeds is the only thing more disconcerting than slipping a single clutch for that long.
When pressed with the obvious "isn't that, you know, bad?" a Porsche engineer replied simply, confidently "No." "If it was," he continued, "we wouldn't do it." The Panamera's clutches operate in an oil bath which keeps the whole thing cool enough to avoid damage.
Nerves still not settled? Get the GTS. Its PDK still works normally.
Driver, My Car Please With the exception of the engine, the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Executive feels exactly like the previous Panamera. On a car that's already nearly 200 inches long an additional 5.9 inches is like your height difference when wearing sneakers. It points into corners like a Porsche should while feeling half its size on narrow Alpine passes. Hydraulic-assist, variable-ratio power steering is now standard across the Panamera line and feels tight and precise deep into triple-digits.
Even without the raucous V8, the 2014 Panamera is still the best driver's car in the luxury sedan segment by a country mile.
The real difference with the 2014 Panamera Executive, is in the rear. Go ahead, recline a bit. Cross your feet. There's space. The rear buckets are expertly tailored, supportive, heated, cooled and a bit odd.
The rub is this: The Porsche Panamera was never designed to be a limousine. The Panamera sits low over its running gear and forces the car into its gorgeous 2+2 layout. The seats are as low as you'll find in anything with this many doors. When the Panamera underwent enlargement surgery, nothing could be done about either of these factors. This means the rear seats are low and sleek with limited forward visibility and a confining lack of width. It's more Cars Land ride at Disneyland than executive transport.
That's fine on a normal Panamera as that car is front occupant-focused. For occasional rear passengers, it's actually a treat. It's only when you consider the cost and intention of the Executive model that these problems start to matter. And when you consider that the Audi A8L, BMW 760Li, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS 460L were all designed from the beginning for chauffeur duty, the case for the Panamera 4S Executive falls even flatter.
Porsche vs. The Future
The demise of Porsche has been well catalogued and poorly predicted. It switched to water cooling and the brand was doomed. It built an SUV and the brand was doomed. Then it built the Panamera and the brand was, again, doomed. And most recently, Porsche released the new 911 GT3 without a manual transmission which will certainly doom the brand.
None of these threats, however, are more worrisome than the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Executive. Hyper expensive, even by Porsche standards, and built on an unwilling platform, the long-wheelbase Panamera is an example of Porsche chasing markets instead of inventing them.
What we have in the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Executive is a flawed variant of an exemplary vehicle. Built mainly for the Chinese market, this mid-cycle long-wheelbase Panamera is important to Porsche financially, volumetrically and philosophically. It is, for the first time, a Porsche made for the passenger instead of the driver, which is a harder pill to swallow than any of the previous doomsday scenarios.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Is the 2014 Porsche Panamera a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2014 Porsche Panamera and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2014 Panamera featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2014 Porsche Panamera? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2014 Porsche Panamera and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2014 Panamera 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2014 Panamera.
Review I purchased this car from the dealer brand new with 20 miles on it nearly two years ago. With all the features such as blacked tail light covers, 360 camera views, 20 inch wheels etc. the car is a looker. About a year ago I start the car to go to work and I get a transmission error. The warning says the car is driveable but I call the srevive department immediately! I notice the car won't go into 3, 5 or 7th gear. So I basically limp to the dealership for service. Two days later I get it back and I was told it was a software and transfer case issue. All is well or so I thought. Last week same scenario. Start the car, warning light again. I call the dealer, limp to the dealership get in my loaner and leave. This time I get a call they have to replace the entire tranny! !!!! Ok, now I'm upset. Almost 200k on a car with 27k miles and the tranny goes out twice?????? Again, I'm the original owner and all service has been performed by the dealer. Now it's time to reassess my intent on keeping this car!! I've owned various luxury Marques to include, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Lexus. Not one of them needed a new transmission! !! The 2002 S Class I owned had 14 miles on it when I bought it. I kept it for 9 years and put over 180k miles on it. The biggest expense I even had was replacing the front end suspension and that was due to normal wear and tear. How does Porsche get away with being called the most reliable and we'll built luxury car when their famous PDK transmission failed twice in less than 30k miles??? Having a conversation with my lawyer at this point.
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What options are available on the 2014 Porsche Panamera?
Available Porsche Panamera 2014 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hybrid
Available Trims: 4, 4S, Turbo, GTS, S, Base, Turbo Executive, S E-Hybrid, 4 Edition, S Hybrid
Exterior Colors: Black, White, Yachting Blue Metallic, Agate Grey Metallic, Dark Blue Metallic, Carrara White, Basalt Black Metallic, Carbon Grey Metallic, Mahogany Metallic, Carrara White Metallic, Chestnut Brown Metallic, Jet Black Metallic, Volcano Grey Metallic, Carmine Red Metallic, GT Silver Metallic, Night Blue Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Sapphire Blue Metallic, Topaz Brown Metallic, Amethyst Metallic, Burgundy Red Metallic, Chalk, Cognac Metallic, Platinum Silver Metallic, Rhodium Silver Metallic, Ristretto Brown Metallic
Interior Colors: Black leather, Luxor Beige leather, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Agate Gray leather, Black/Luxor Beige leather, Cognac premium leather, Black Full Leather leather, Black/Carrera Red leather, Luxor Beige/Cream leather, Black/Bordeaux Red leather, Black/Platinum Grey leather, Black/Saddle Brown leather, Cognac Natural Leather premium leather, Cognac/Cedar premium leather, Espresso Natural Leather premium leather, Espresso premium leather, Luxor Beige Full Leather leather, Marsala Red/Cream leather, Platinum Grey leather
Popular Features: 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Navigation, Parking sensors, Power Driver Seat, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Sunroof/Moonroof, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Automatic Emergency Braking, Upgraded Headlights, Heated seats, Leather Seats, AWD/4WD, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Aux Audio Inputs, Back-up camera, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Mobile Internet, Pre-collision safety system, Cooled Seats, Keyless Entry/Start, Remote Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, 360-degree camera, Upgraded Stereo