By Staff Writer
With a fresh sport saloon in the Porsche range, is the Panamera’s time up? For a vehicle that oozes drive appeal, it’s a good thing the Panamera doesn’t catch feelings, otherwise it might be feeling emotional and neglected like the forgotten member of the Porsche family. While the 911 remains the evergreen hero, the Cayenne and Macan the popular sales darlings and the new Taycan the exciting newcomer, the Panamera simply plays its role.
It fills an important but small role for the brand, giving Porsche an executive sedan – and wagon, to compete against the big players from the other German brands – Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe and Audi A7 Sportback.
However, while it may have been overshadowed of late, that doesn’t mean Porsche has forgotten about it. The current generation – launched back in 2017, has been given a mid-life update.
The changes are subtle in isolation but add up to some big improvements across the range, most notably extra power has seen the previous range-topper – the Panamera Turbo, become the Turbo S. There’s also a new hybrid model and tweaks to the air suspension and related systems to improve the handling.
Styling has been subtly tweaked, with a revised front bumper, side cooling openings, and lights – but few will notice the differences in the real world. Three new 20- and 21-inch wheels have been added to the Panamera’s option catalogue, making a total of ten-wheel designs available to clients. All Panamera models come with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and the 4S E-Hybrid gets an additional eight-year battery warranty.
Sinking behind the wheel of a Porsche Panamera is a good feeling. The seating position is low in the hull, with stacks of adjustment offered by the standard-fit heated and cooled sports seats. The same goes for the controls, with the wheel offering large amounts of height and telescopic adjustment. The facelifted range benefits from an updated infotainment system with live traffic information and wireless Apple CarPlay. The GTS gets an Alcantara interior as standard – unavailable in other models, while V6 models get embossed leather in black or grey. Smooth leather, while standard on the Turbo S, can be optioned on V6 models in an additional two colours for more dollars.
All sub-Saharan models including those available for the Kenyan market come standard with lane keep assist, radar cruise control, and park assist with 360-degree camera. While standard on higher-end models previously, all Panamera variants now also gain speed-sensitive steering, front ventilated seats, lane change assist, adaptive LED headlights, head-up display, and soft-close doors. The 4S E-Hybrid and variants above gain an air purifier, and the Turbo S gets 18-way electric sports seats – another extra cost option in other trim levels.
Directly In front of the driver sits a fantastic gauge cluster uniting analogue with the digital. In the centre is a large, classic-looking tacho, which is flanked by a pair of customisable screens. As for more basic amenities, there’s a decent-sized pair of cupholders, a small covered storage area, narrow door bins, and a shallow armrest centre console complete with one USB-C port. The second row is spacious, with a smart notch carved into the first-row seat backs and B-pillars allowing your knees to swing freely. It may sound minor, but it greatly assists ingress and egress.
Once in and sitting behind a front driver’s seat adjusted to suit my 6ft-tall frame, space is fantastic for fully grown adults. There’s more room on offer in the back of a Panamera than a Taycan, so if you’re looking for a reason to justify the internal combustion engine, think about doing it for your kids.
Boot space is 467 litres, which is decent enough in isolation, but small given the size of the vehicle. It’s a well-proportioned area, with the second row dropped, space increases to 1,306 litres, and under the floor lies a tyre repair kit and air compressor.
It’s under the bonnet where the most attention has been given to the Panamera range, with V8 and hybrid models enjoying healthy power upgrades. The Turbo S doesn’t quite match the previous Turbo S E-Hybrid it replaces, with the 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 delivering 463 kW and 820 Nm, compared with the 500 kW/850 Nm of the previous flagship. However, it is quicker in a straight line. The 0-100km/h time for the Turbo S comes in at a claimed 3.1 seconds – hurling this behemoth towards its class lap record at the iconic Nurburgring racing circuit.
Sitting below the Turbo S is the GTS, using a detuned version of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Its 353 kW and 620 Nm gets the car from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds – 0.2 seconds slower than the 4S E-Hybrid, despite sitting above it in the model range.
The base Panamera and Panamera 4 models change from a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 to a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 – all while maintaining the same 243 kW and 450 Nm as the previous engines. The rear-wheel-drive Panamera does the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 5.6 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 does it in a claimed 5.3 seconds.
The Panamera 4 can also be optioned in a long-wheelbase Executive spec, which adds 15cm to the body length, and 0.1 second to the claimed acceleration time. Those needing more practicality can choose a Sport Turismo – a svelte wagon version of the Panamera – in either Panamera 4 or GTS specifications.
If you walk into a Porsche dealership wanting a saloon, the mental war is deciding between a Panamera or Taycan. The Panamera – once ground-breaking in 2009 as the brand’s first four-door (plus a tailgate) passenger car, has undergone a facelift on its second generation. The Taycan, equally as trailblazing, is Porsche’s first-ever electric vehicle. The latter even happens to be a similarly sized four-door saloon.
If you’re working with a moderate luxury budget, you’re going to be looking at the entry points to either range. If we compare both, the Taycan is millions of shillings cheaper. The same car continues to be better on paper, too, getting to 100km/h from a standing start two-tenths faster. Here’s the kicker – the quicker, cheaper one is bloody good, where does that leave the Panamera?
Well for sub-Saharan Africa, the new Porsche Panamera makes sense because of a lack of infrastructure to run a fully electric car confidently.
It’s available on order now, so a stroll into your bank to make sure your zeros and commas are in order then a visit to Porsche Centre Nairobi showroom on Mombasa Road for a perusal and selection of model and thereafter a ticking of all your tailored options is a sure way to spoil oneself with a German engineering marvel.