The Porsche Panamera packs Porsche performance into a more usable body than the historic coupes that built the brand's reputation. Available with a V6, V8 or hybrid powertrain, in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, as a sedan or liftback, and in regular or long-wheelbase versions, the Panamera offers a staggering array of choices. And based on our experience, they're all good to drive.
2021 Porsche Panamera
First, caveat lector: We've only driven the new 4S E-Hybrid so far. And the one we did drive was quite a ... uniquely specced car. It was also a German-market model. That means not only did the navigation not work here in the U.S., but all sorts of bits from the exhaust to the engine tuning are ever so slightly different from the eventual U.S. model.
The new 4S E-Hybrid's acceleration is only a few tenths off the current Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, with a maximum claimed 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds (3.6 seconds for the Executive). That kind of power in a car that's likely to tip the scales over 5,000 pounds made us glad for the carbon ceramics, even if they did make limo stops in the long-wheelbase Executive devilishly hard. (Did we mention nobody would spec a Panamera this way?)
The occasionally grabby low-speed behavior of those massive carbon-ceramic brakes aside, we had very, very few complaints. Porsche's efforts with the car's suspension were designed to create a wider window between comfort and sport settings, and they succeeded. The ride won't be mistaken for an S-Class, but in Normal mode it does an admirable job evening out bumps. The Executive's longer wheelbase certainly helped as well. The trade-off is noticeable body motion if you forget to switch to Sport before tackling a corner. Few cars change personality so completely at the push of a button.
Porsche doesn't have official EPA range numbers yet, but maximum range is sure to increase from the current 14 miles. Even at 75% charge, our car estimated more than 20 miles of available electric range (but remember, German model, not final, YMMV, etc.). It seems likely that if it's left plugged in overnight, you'll be able to handle an average commute without ever firing up the V6. And while the car isn't very electrifying to drive without the gas motor switched on, it's certainly more than passable as a commuter.
Porsche hasn't done much to the interior beyond a new steering wheel and a new clock face (which you'll be able to buy as a matching watch from Porsche Design, of course), so our basic praises and complaints about the interior still stand. Construction and materials are impeccable, and there's a surprising amount of room up front (and a perhaps unsurprising amount of room in the back of the Executive model, which is Legroom City). But visibility runs the gamut from "eh" to "is there a car behind me?" and the low-set windows make the interior feel tighter than it really is. Oh, and the piano black center console creates blinding glare if the sun hits it just right. Invest in some polarized lenses if you're picking up a Panamera in sunny Southern California.
Again, not much has changed. Porsche is pushing improvements to voice commands and has introduced wireless Apple CarPlay, but our German-spec tester and 3-year-old Samsung mobile didn't really allow us to test either. A full verdict will have to wait until we get a U.S. model in for official testing sometime next year.
The Porsche Panamera does a better job of being all things to all people than it has any right to. It's a comfortable sedan; it's a sharp, confident sports car; it's a plug-in capable of short stints of all-electric driving (if you spec it that way); and it's very, very good at almost everything it does.