2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
A sedan worthy of the Porsche badge.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: June 6th, 2014
If there's one big point of contention with the Porsche Panamera, it's not that Porsche built a sedan - it gave Porschephiles heart attacks with the Cayenne first - it's that it's sort of ugly. As if a 911's front and a Cayman's rear went through some poor Photoshopping. Personally, I don't think it's a bad-looking car, but it really comes down to whether or not you like large hatchbacks, because that's what the Panamera is. There's no separate trunk; what you toss in the back can be retrieved by either of the two rear passengers.
Once you get past the looks, though, it's easy to see why the Panamera has been successful since its launch in the 2010 model year. When it came time to design the Panamera, Porsche didn't dig through Audi's parts bin and build something off the A8 platform. Instead, the automaker made its own sedan, unique to that marque alone. And it most definitely shows.
Most of the time you're driving the Panamera 4S, you're not aware of how big the car actually is. It handles like a much smaller sedan, which speaks volumes not only of the chassis, but also of the optional adaptive air suspension and its ability to keep the car nimble despite a 4,000-pound curb weight. The steering is spot on, as well - it goes where you point it, and while turning requires less physical exertion than a purely hydraulic setup, it doesn't feel like you're driving in a video game.
That said, it wouldn't be nearly as fun to throw around if it weren't for the engine. Under the hood (weird, we know) lies a 420-horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6. With the optional Sport Chrono package, it'll hit 60 in 4.3 seconds, which is one-tenth of a second faster than a base 911.
The dual-clutch PDK transmission is an absolute joy, and very likely the best automatic transmission I've ever used. Even without the car set to Sport or Sport Plus, the PDK hammers out shifts like it functions on pure cocaine. Under generous amounts of throttle, upshifts are accompanied by a quick little burp, and every downshift is met with rev matching that never gets any less fun. The low point of the shifting experience is the paddles, which feel cheap to push.
Of course, even if you're not driving it, there are still plenty of things to do inside the car. You may have noticed that Porsche's current interior-design aesthetic is modeled after NASA's mission control - there are buttons everywhere. Even the rear seat is split in twain by a massive instrument panel that utilizes nearly a dozen buttons just for the HVAC controls. While it might look daunting on first glance, it will become muscle memory in short order, and we're glad to see physical switchgear versus a series of confusing screens.
Speaking of screens, there are two. There's the main touchscreen (with complementing physical buttons), which foregoes any semblance of Volkswagen programming for something unique. Music browsing is easy, but navigation can get a little tricky, especially if you're trying to search by points of interest. The second screen lies in front of the driver, as part of the five-gauge cluster. You can have it display a navigation map, tire pressures, a chronometer, and whatever else might be halfway necessary during vehicle operation.
Porsche is known for delivering a massive number of customizable options on its cars, in order to make each and every Porsche on the road a little different from the next. Our tester, which started at $98,300, came with thirty thousand dollars of options. Some, like the Sport Chrono package, are expensive, but at least it makes the car move around faster. Things like the $335 key that's painted to match the car or the $500 wheel spacers, or the $930 car phone (yes, a freaking car phone) - those are a little bit on the ludicrous side. But hey, if you're driving around in what amounts to a longer 911, being a little over the top is par for the course.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Power Output: 420 hp / 384 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 17 city / 27 highway
Base Price: $98,300
As Tested: $128,965 (incl. $975 destination)
Available Features: More than you could ever imagine, and far more than will fit in this little space. You name it, they'll make it happen.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Porsche Panamera, click here: 2014 Porsche Panamera.