Performance & Sports Cars: Reviews & Pricing

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With so much emphasis on safety, fuel economy and emissions these days, you might think this is a bad time for performance cars — but nothing could be further from the truth. Clean, efficient engines extract more power from each drop of fuel while modern safety gear is designed to ensure that cars go where they are pointed. Today's performance cars are quicker and sharper than ever, and few suffer from the mechanical frailty that plagued past generations of hot-rod rides. In this 2017 list you'll find both performance vehicles (including performance-oriented daily drivers and high-powered versions of mainstream cars) as well as luxury sports cars that coddle as well as thrill.

With so much emphasis on safety, fuel economy and emissions these days, you might think this is a bad time for performance cars — but nothing could be further from the truth. Clean, efficient engines extract more power from each drop of fuel while modern safety gear is designed to ensure that cars go where they are pointed. Today's performance cars are quicker and sharper than ever, and few suffer from the mechanical frailty that plagued past generations of hot-rod rides. In this 2017 list you'll find both performance vehicles (including performance-oriented daily drivers and high-powered versions of mainstream cars) as well as luxury sports cars that coddle as well as thrill.

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2017 Porsche Panamera 4S Review

Our experts review the 2017 Porsche Panamera 4S. Tag along with Edmunds Senior Writer Mark Takahashi as he takes a close look at the all-new 2017 Porsche Panamera luxury sedan -- from its cool styling to its performance on the twisties. This second-generation certainly puts to rest any doubt that the Panamera is a real Porsche.

Transcript

MARK TAKAHASHI: This is the all new Porsche Panamera, rebuilt from the ground up. And I got to say, it's a huge improvement. This looks so much better than that kind of bloated body style from the last generation, but it's retained all of that insane performance characteristics that I fell in love with eight years ago. Prices start right around 85 grand for the base model, which is only available with rear wheel drive and standard wheelbase. With versions above that, you have the option of all wheel drive, and executive, which is the long wheelbase. This is the 4S standard wheelbase. The 4 obviously denotes all wheel drive. The S means you got more power. And it starts at $99,000. So for 100 grand, we start getting into an uncomfortable zone. As tested with all these options, we're looking at 137 grand. Honestly though, if I had the money, this would probably be my choice for a luxury sedan because it's just awesome. The biggest difference is styling. It looks so much lighter thanks to these coved out surfaces, and you've got these cool LED lights that are multi-segmented. Along the side, there's really not that much you can talk about. It does look a lot like the previous generation Panamera, mostly because there's not a whole lot you could do with that profile and still have it look like a Porsche. You do have this cool little outlet here, which might serve for aerodynamics or cooling. I'm not entirely sure. But it does look like it's functional because there's an inlet inside the wheel well. Got this nice chrome surround all the way around the greenhouse. The biggest difference, and I think the most significant, is the tail light. It has this nice, sharp 911 shape. But the really cool thing is that it continues all the way across the back, breaking up all of that heavy, kind of bulbous look that the previous generation had. Then you have this nice bevel that also serves to shave off some of that visual weight. Down below, you've got quad exhaust tail pipes. And with the 4S, it's actually a sport exhaust system. And it sounds rad. You've got these crackles and snarls, and it really just encourages you to drive it harder. So with a standard Panamera, it gets a 2.9 liter V6, much like this, for an output of 330 horsepower. Probably plenty for most people. This is the 4S. It gets twin turbos for an output of 440 horsepower. Now that makes me happy, and it's plenty for even a meathead like me who loves going fast. However, if you need more, there's the SE hybrid, which combines electricity and a combustion engine for a combined output of 680 horsepower. That's a bonkers amount of power. And honestly, if you need that much, we need to talk because we're going to be really good friends. Because this is a Porsche, performance is paramount. And right now, I'm just kind of cruising along this lovely, twisty little highway here. It's comfortable. It's well-mannered. Really, I'm not feeling any sacrifice in ride calling. Now we do have the optional air ride suspension in this. So it should have a pretty decent range, but there's only one way to find out. So one click, two clicks. Oh, hello. And now I'm in sport plus mode. Now I like manual transmissions, but I also like power shifts,. But I like manual control. So flip that over there, give it a downshift. All of a sudden, it starts feeling a little bit more like the 911. Oh, a little crackle there. This is a big car that can really hustle around. And it just seems to have all of the grip in the world with this all wheel drive system. Every now and then, coming out of a corner, when I start laying into the throttle, I'll feel those front tire patches start to give up a little bit. But once I start feeding it more power, I feel them just kind of cinch down into that pavement. And man, it just keeps pulling you out of there. It's lively, and it's fun. And the body roll is really well-maintained. And I know where every bump is on this road. I know how serious they are, and this is kind of just gliding right over them. Mid-corner bumps, not even affected. I have two words to describe this Panamera-- good lord. Wow. So if there's any doubt that a Porsche Panamera isn't or is a real Porsche, put them to rest. The interior is much like any other Porsche, which is to say, it's really nice. The materials used are excellent. I mean the leather top dash, everything around you, it's all premium grain leather stuff. And even the plastic kind of feels good and upmarket. Visibility's strangely good. And I say strangely because almost everything else in this class for large luxury sedans have a giant A-pillar. This one is actually pretty wide, but it's angled in a way so it doesn't impede your view through a left turn. The blind spots are kind of big because I have this big B-pillar right next to me. But the mirrors are big enough so I can see around and get a good idea of what's going on. It really does just say Porsche. The seats probably aren't from a 911, but they look like they are. And they also feel a lot like a 911 seat, which means small people or tall people or large people alike will be able to find their optimal position. The thing has a ton of adjustments. But not as many as, like, an Audi A8 where it has all of the massage and stuff. It's just a bell-shaped seat. The padding is kind of firm, which is par for the course for some of the German sedans. But it's so well shaped that it kind of-- you don't need that much padding. Now same holds true for these elbow touch points. They're pretty thinly padded. They're pretty firm. But they're well-angled and well-shaped so that they're comfortable. As far as control of all the systems, I'm not that impressed, actually. There are a lot of buttons on the steering wheel, but unfortunately, what's missing is a skip button for, let's say, your iPhone or whatever portable media device you have. There is a customizable button right here. Has a little diamond on it, and you can actually program it to skip forward. But so far, it hasn't worked, at least with Apple CarPlay. So that's kind of a bummer. Another thing that takes some getting used to is the stocks that are coming off of it. There's a lot going on here. If you wanted to hit the voice command, you hit the end of the turn signal stalk. Not really that intuitive. Usually, I'm used to seeing it here or here on the steering wheel itself. Cruise control also not all that intuitive, but after a few hours of driving this thing, I finally got it to be second nature. Other secondary controls on the center stack, it looks really cool. And kudos to Porsche for getting rid of, I think there were 44 buttons the last time around when I drove a Panamera Turbo, the first generation, and it was kind of a mess. Now this looks a lot cleaner. Problem is they're not physical buttons. So if you're driving along and you want to activate something, you can't just feel for a button. You actually have to take your eyes off the road and look at what you're doing. And that's kind of a distraction that's pretty unnecessary. So I don't know what to tell Porsche. You had too many buttons last time. Now you have too few. You just can't win. I'm sorry. It's got Porsche gauges. Even though just the center one is an actual gauge, a tachometer. And that's cool. I mean, that means if you've got a big center tach, that means you actually have to pay attention to the revs, especially if you're using manual mode with these paddles. It won't shift automatically to the next gear if you're bouncing off the rev limiter. Flanked on both sides are these multifunction displays. And on one side, you have some of the adaptive cruise control operations. On the other side, you have the typical trip meter. Then they both open up to be a navigation screen. All of these gauges and all these readouts are super legible in any light condition, and, yeah, they just work really well. So another knock on practicality with the Panamera is storage, in particular, for your personal items. You've got a big cup holder and a small cup holder, and that's fine. But the problem, too, is this bin is kind of oddly shaped because these are permanent. And putting my cell in here, it kind of had to wrestle it towards the back for it to fit in close. You only have one USB port, which is kind of a problem nowadays since everybody has a device and everybody's running out of juice. So yeah, I would expect another port somewhere. So here I am in the back seat of the Panamera, which really, truly is the whole reason for the Panamera existing at all. And they're really nice. These seats are a lot like the front seats. They don't have as many adjustments, but they're shaped pretty much identically, which means they're comfortable. They're comfortable for hours at a time. You have some adjustments for the seat back angle here, and some lumbar as well, and that's really quite nice. As far as leg room, I have plenty. For an average-sized guy, totally adequate. You do have a lot of controls back here for climate control and navigation. You have control over this sunroof as well. And you have these privacy shades. You kind of have a really small cup holder here and one USB port. Again, I'd expect two at least. You have the center armrest here. And as you can see, there's no center seat. So this is a four passenger car. You have the option to go with five passenger car. So you get rid of all this stuff and put a seat there. But really with the big hump going through here with all the drivetrain stuff, it's kind of not a great place to sit. So here we're at the back of the Panamera 4S. It's kind of wide. It's kind of long. But it's kind of shallow, too. That's going to impede the bulkier objects fitting. There is a fix. It's called the Sport Turismo Panamera. It has more of a wagon-like hatch, and it attaches a lot of this stuff here to the bottom of the hatch. So you have a much lower liftover height. That's a smart solution. Plus, in my opinion, the Sport Turismo actually looks a little better, too. So that's what we think of the Porsche Panamera. It may not be perfect for every need or every taste, but really, it's an epically good car. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't check it out. Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below and hit subscribe for more videos just like this.

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