2010 Porsche Panamera: Luxury and Speed for Four
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
From its early days, Porsche cars, founded by Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart in 1931, gained a well-earned reputation for creating stylish, well-built and fast vehicles, and there was no confusion in Europe. Since it began marketing in the United States in 1950, with the 356 Speedster coupe, Porsche has kept up its eminence for creating four-wheel excitement, but has suffered in American accuracy of pronunciation.
First was the confusion over the name Porsche. Many Americans say: “Porsh,” but ask any German and the correct family articulation is “POR-sheh.” Then came the Cayenne in 2002, but leave it to Americans to call it “Cheyenne” (SHY-anne) instead of “Cayenne”, like the pepper (Ki-EHN). Now, Porsche’s first new offering in seven years is here, the exhilarating, stylish and fast Panamera (PAN-a-MEHR-a) that many enthusiasts inaccurately call “Panorama” (PAN-o-RAHM-a) or “Pan-American.”
Panamera is correct, as essentially, the car's name was inspired by the “La Carrera Panamerican” or “Panameracana” open road race that was run in Mexico from 1950-1955, across the Panamerican Highway. Porsche achieved success there earning Class victories, including a win in the Small Sports Car category in 1953 by German driver Hans Herrmann, piloting the Fletcher Aviation 550 Spyder. Two other bits of confusion are that in 1989, Porsche developed a concept car called the Panamericana -- that concept is NOT this all-new vehicle – and the Porsche Club of America publication is named Panorama and Porsche has no affiliation with that publication.
Pronunciation aside, the 2010 Porsche Panamera, Porsche’s first all-new vehicle since the launch of the Cayenne CUV in 2002, comes in various configurations including the Panamera S, 4S, Turbo and V-6.
This lightning-fast luxury car that seats four is endowed with a water-cooled V-8 engine (with an aluminum engine block and heads) that throatily thunders out 400hp and 369 lbs-ft of torque on Premium fuel.
Built with Porsche’s iconic styling, and a nod to the styling of the 911 with a fluid, long sloping front end and a roofline that curves seductively into a fastback rear, Panamera aerodynamically measures 195.6 inches long, 76 inches wide and 55.8 inches high on a 114.9-inch wheelbase, to achieve a ground clearance of 5.66 inches and a curb weight of a solid 3968 lbs.
My test ride, the Panamera S is the first 4-door in Porsche’s 61-year car-making history, though it also qualifies as a 5-door hatchback.
Panamera S is powered by a 4.8-liter V-8 engine mated to a seven-speed transmission with a PDK dual clutch, and the Turbo version explodes out 500 horses from its twin-turbo V-8. It is the first premium car with an automatically shifting double-clutch transmission that features an engine start/stop system that allows for reduced emissions and saves fuel.
The manufacturer claims zero to 60 times for the S model in 5.2 seconds and a time of 4-flat for the Turbo. My tests, with the car tuned as one would drive it off the car lot, with no special measures taken (reduced weight, soft tires, atmospheric perfection or track smoothness) jetted me from zero to 60 in 5.3 with a 13.9-second quarter-mile sprint.
On the road, there is speed in all gears at all levels. It steers, handles, turns, accelerates and moves like a race car, with luxury support for passengers. It is the first premium car with an automatically shifting double-clutch transmission that features an engine start/stop system that allows for reduced emissions and saves fuel. It is EPA rated at 16.24 and my tests garnered an average of 21.1 mpg in mixed-use driving.
The ride is smooth and non-wavering in all action, using a steel, independent suspension on aluminum double-wishbone axle. A world-first, adaptive air suspension with extra volume available on-demand can be tuned to comfort for a firm ride or sporty to feel the road beneath you.
Inside, Panamera is lavishly spacious. Headroom measures 38 inches in front and 38.2 inches in the rear, legroom of a roomy 41.9 inches in row one and a tight 33.3 inches, while shoulder room of 51.9 and 51.7.
Panamera’s interior is controlled by an amazing and confusing array of buttons in the center stack. The Panamera S comes standard with partial leather upholstery, seat heating and ventilation, 14-way electric seat adjustments up front, lumbar support, 4.8-inch high-resolution TFT multi-function color display, moonroof, ParkAssist sensors, Homelink buttons, and two-zone automatic climate control with an activated carbon filter to remove pollen and pollutants, and a humidity sensor and adjustment program. All footwell and the luggage compartment carpets come in tufted velour to match the interior.
Safety items include collision protection in the form of extra-strong boron-alloy steel and multi-phase steel, an extra-stiff bulkhead crossbar, two-stage full-size driver and front passenger airbags, knee airbags and two-chamber thorax/hip side airbags at the front, integrated in the sides of the backrests.
My test Panamera S was base priced at $89,800, and with a few spiffy options, drive-off was $95,600.
However you pronounce it, if you are a fan of fast, sporty, luxury cars that blow you away with looks and performance, Porsche Panamera is a car that was worth the wait.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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