First Drive: Porsche Panamera

The new Porsche Panamera has been designed to be more practical and economical model than its predecessor, while still maintaining impressive performance.

Does this new philosophy work? AOL Cars decided to find out.
What is it?

The new Panamera may look very similar to the previous model, but there have been plenty of changes. As well as an increase in power, four-wheel-steering has been added and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been lowered.

The interior is far more refined than before as well. The complicated multi-button layout has been replaced by up-to-date touch-sensitive controls, which benefits not just function, but aesthetics too.

What's under the bonnet?

The old Panamera's 3.0-litre V6 engine has been reduced to 2.9-litres. Not only does this help to bring fuel consumption down to 34.4mpg, but it makes the car lighter too.

However, don't assume this size decrease means there's less performance, because the sports saloon from Stuttgart has been given a couple of turbochargers. This has contributed to a power increase - the car now has 434bhp, can achieve 0-60mph in four seconds and carry on to a top speed of 179mph.

The car is also available with one of two 4.0-litre V8s and a hybrid version of the V6.

What's the spec like?

The Porsche Panamera starts at £88,700, but the model we tested was worth £108,482 because of optional extras such as adaptive damping and a Bose sound system.

This may seem like a lot of money to hand over, but in return you get an incredibly versatile car that goes from cruising on the motorway to blasting down a back-road with ease.

First Drive: Porsche Panamera
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First Drive: Porsche Panamera

Any rivals?

Rivals for the Panamera include the Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW M6 Coupé and Audi RS7. An advantage the Porsche has over these is its day-to-day usability.

The suspension is firm, but not rigid and there is plenty of rear legroom and boot space, especially if you opt for the executive version.

What's it like to drive?

The most noticeable change to driving dynamics comes from the addition of four-wheel-steering. Which helps the car to feel perfectly balanced. The only problem with the handling is the lack of steering feel.

The new 2.9-litre engine is absolutely right for this car. Combined with the four-wheel-drive system, the Panamera feels surprisingly light and nimble.

Press the throttle hard and there's a fantastic growl from the V6, which is amplified if you go for the sports exhaust option. The acceleration is incredible, as you can hardly feel it in the refined cocoon of comfort.

AOL Cars Verdict

The Panamera does just about everything you could want a car to do. It's comfortable, spacious, well equipped and – crucially for a Porsche – fast.

Yes, it's expensive, but given the amount of technology on board, it appears well worth the price. Dynamically, it's just as impressive as any sports car, but it backs this up with high levels of refinement, too.

The Knowledge

Power (bhp): 434bhp
Torque (Nm): 550Nm
Max speed (mph): 179mph
0-60mph: 4.0 seconds
MPG: 34.4mpg
Emissions (g/km): 186g/km
Price: £88,700
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