Porsche Panamera Turbo 2017 road test review: A gorgeous quintessential German sportscar

By Rahul Richard

If there was one thing that was a bit off about the previous generation Porsche Panamera, it was its design. But Porsche has fixed that and while they were at it, they’ve changed pretty much everything about the car. But have they don’t enough to stack up the numbers on the car? We drive the new Panamera Turbo to find out just that.

To begin with, the new design gorgeous. To put it simply, it’s what a Porsche 911 would look like if you stretched it and added five doors. The front of the car looks the least 911-like because of the wider profile and larger headlights. However, from the side, Porsche has managed to bring the 911 silhouette with the high haunches and sloping roof. All this, without making any element look out of proportion.

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Images by Anis Shaikh

Inside, the Panamera Turbo is just a gorgeous! It’s quintessentially German, with the simple and elegant shapes flowing neatly into one another. The numerous buttons placed around the gear lever have been replaced by a a pressure-sensitive touch panel which works like Apple’s 3D Touch technology – it even provides feedback like a normal button would. The 12.3-inch touchscreen offers a whole lot of information, but reaching the far-end of the screen is a bit of stretch when you’re in the driver’s seat. Thankfully, you have quick access buttons for almost every function, on the touch panel.

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Images by Anis Shaikh

The new instrument cluster gets an analogue tachometer in the centre, with 7-inch displays on either side of it. These displays can be configured to show all your usual information like the speed, a trip meter and even navigation data. But it can also be configured for more fun stuff like a split lap timer and a G-Force meter. And everyone loves a G-Force meter!

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Images by Anis Shaikh

But if you get sick of the driver’s seat (we doubt that’ll happen) – you could always sit at the back and back-seat drive! Fortunately, the rear-end of the Panamera’s cabin is just as nice as the front. You don’t feel left out of all that technology, with a touchscreen to control the media and individual climate control settings. There’s quite a bit of knee-room, and while the seats can’t be reclined any further, I think it’s already at an ideal angle. The Panamera’s cabin might not be as luxurious or as comfortable as a Mercedes S-Class’, but I think it’s way cooler and feels more special.

And now, to the driving bit! The Panamera Turbo gets an all-new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 producing 550 PS from 5,750-6,000 rpm and 770 Nm between 1,960 and 4,500 rpm. Power delivery is very linear and crisp, and it will pull ferociously from almost anywhere in the rev range all the way up to the 6,800 rpm redline. What it does, is a very good impression of a naturally aspirated engine, with no sudden power spikes that will make you soil yourself. The 8-speed PDK transmission is very responsive and offers creamy, ultra quick gear changes -- something I’ve come to expect from dual-clutch transmissions.

What I didn’t expect though, is a slightly disappointing soundtrack. It sounds great from the outside, especially with that optional Sports Exhaust system, but from the driver’s seat, where it matters the most, it isn’t the best sounding V8 out there. And if you care, the efficiency isn’t too good either, even with its cylinder deactivation system -- we got 4.56 kmpl in the city and 6.62 kmpl on the highway. But thankfully, it’s got a 90-litre fuel tank so you won’t be stopping for fuel that often.

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Images by Anis Shaikh

The soundtrack I was complaining about it isn’t a deal breaker either, especially since it can do 0-100 kmph in just 3.7 seconds! That’s supercar territory! The car’s got four drive modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Normal is for when you feel like a calm drive, Sport is for when you feel like some enthused driving and Sport Plus is for when you’re feeling a little insane. Individual, of course, is for when you’re a bit confused about how you’re feeling.

Apart from adjusting engine and transmission settings, these modes also change how the car handles and rides. The Panamera Turbo gets adaptive air suspension which has three ride heights -- low, medium and high. It’ll drive around in the lowest and mid-level settings for as long as you like, but the highest setting can be activated only at speeds below 30 kmph. That’s perfectly alright because you’ll only need that when driving over really bad roads, at which point, even 30 kmph might be too fast. While the Panamera’s suspension is little bit on the stiffer side, even in Normal mode, it certainly isn’t uncomfortable. It absorbs the impact well, but there is fair bit of movement inside the cabin.

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Images by Anis Shaikh

Switch to Sport or Sport Plus mode, and this big luxury sedan into an agile two-door sportscar! With stiffer suspension, a more responsive engine and plenty of electronic wizardry, the Panamera Turbo will put some of your favourite sportscars to shame on a twisty. It is all-wheel driven, and along with the optional rear-axle steering, it is nothing short of being amazing! No matter what you try, the car will simply mock your efforts to make it step out, and stick like glue to the line you’re on. But one of my favourite bits in this car is the Sport Response button. When pressed, the Panamera Turbo will drop everything it's doing to give you 20 seconds of everything it's got...20 seconds of pure, unadulterated performance.

Now I know, all of that sounds great. But I still haven’t gotten to my favourite part as yet. Something I like even more than all that performance and corner carving. It’s the spoiler! You probably think I’m mad, but you’ll have to watch it with your own eyes to know what I’m talking about. The way it opens up once you get past 90 kmph is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen on a car. I don’t think I’d ever get sick looking at that in my rear view mirror!

Verdict

So, should you pay Rs 1.93 crore (ex-Maharashtra) for the Panamera Turbo? No. I’d actually recommend that you spend another Rs 22 lakh for all the necessary optional equipment. With that, you’ll get the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport with torque vectoring, rear-axle steering, the Sport Chrono Package (without which you won’t get a Sport Plus mode or that rotary mode selector) and the Sports Exhaust system. You could also get the Rs 16.87 lakh ceramic composite brakes, but the standard set on our car seemed to work perfectly fine. If you’re ready to dish out the extra cash, the Panamera Turbo is one helluva buy. It’s reasonably practical, super capable, exclusive and it has the coolest production car spoiler in the world (heh heh). I haven’t driven the previous Panamera Turbo, so I can’t really tell you how much of an improvement there is. But I can tell you that this all-new one is pretty much all-fabulous!


Published Date: Jun 09, 2017 11:47 am | Updated Date: Jun 09, 2017 11:47 am


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