First Drive: The Porsche Panamera GTS becomes the model’s new sweet spot

What is it?

Once ridiculed for gopping looks and ‘not being a real Porsche’, the Panamera saw itself revitalised as a head-turning and genuinely appealing option when it moved into its second generation in 2017.

In a very not-Porsche-like fashion though, there has been something of a gulf in the saloon’s (and estate if you want to consider the Sport Turismo) range of offerings. Entry-level 4 and 4S models have given a more efficient if perhaps lacking in power option at a relatively reasonable price point, while a jump up to Turbo models delivered a sufficient power boost, but at a £20k premium.

That gap looks set to have been filled though by this — the Panamera GTS.

(Porsche)

What’s new?

Borrowed from its Turbo brethren is the 4.0-litre turbocharged V8, albeit in a detuned state to give a range-appropriate level of performance.

Porsche GTS models have always been angled more towards performance than outright comfort too, and as such an air suspension system has been fitted that drops the car’s ride height by 10mm. Larger brakes also aim to improve stopping power.

Visual changes are subtle, but they do exist — with black trim fitted to both bumpers, while a fresh set of 20-inch alloy wheels come as part of the package too.

What’s under the bonnet?

As mentioned earlier, powering the Porsche Panamera GTS is a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine spitting out 454bhp and 620Nm of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed PDK gearbox. This translates to a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds, with a 181mph top speed possible.

In terms of efficiency, Porsche says the car is capable of 22.5-23.5mpg on the combined WLTP cycle while emitting 235g/km of CO2.

Power from the unit comes early on and low down in the rev range, while remaining consistent throughout, resulting in a car that picks up pace effortlessly. Its performance isn’t delivered in a brutish manner but is equally as devastating at full pelt.

(Porsche)

What’s it like to drive?

Despite being a massive saloon car, the Panamera has always excelled in driving dynamics and fortunately, the GTS only serves to further that.

Handling is exceptionally sharp when pressing on, with a remarkable turn-in response that’s no doubt in part thanks to the car’s rear-wheel steering system. The car does a respectable job of trying to mask its own sheer mass, though its size and heft is hard to ignore.

Despite being a ‘racier’ model, the GTS doesn’t lack in refinement at motorway speeds either. Cabin noise is low, and ride quality is generally very impressive — though it’s not velvety-smooth and doesn’t cover up every nook and cranny in the road.

(Porsche)

How does it look?

Styling changes to the Panamera are few and far between with the GTS package, but that’s nothing to be disappointed with.

In its first generation, the saloon was a very questionable-looking thing that at no angle sat easily on the eye. Fortunately, it’s a different story with its successor which now sports a more athletic and pleasing look.

The subtle additions with the GTS — its gloss black trim highlights and new alloy wheels — only serve to better its look. We’re big fans of the Mamba Green Metallic paint finish as sported on our test car as well, which proved to be a real head-turner in our time with it.

(Porsche)

What’s it like inside?

Little has changed for the Panamera in its move to GTS trim, save for some badging, though that’s no bad thing. There are a plethora of high-quality materials — predominantly a combination of leather and Alcantara in the case of our test car — and everything feels impressively put together.

It’s also an exceptionally spacious car, with four adults easily getting into the car with comfort. A fifth seat is optional, though really this is best reserved for short trips at best.

Boot space comes in at 495 litres — by no means particularly generous — but does come in above the BMW M8 Gran Coupe’s 440-litre capacity, which is a key rival. Those desperate for more capacity can at least opt for the Sport Turismo, which has 520 litres of space.

(Porsche)

What’s the spec like?

Pricing for the Porsche Panamera GTS kicks off at £107,179 — a hefty bump over the base car’s £72,890. That does bring with it a shedload more performance though, so it’s not an unjust increase.

Standard equipment is reasonable here, with highlights including a sports exhaust system, the firm’s Sport Chrono package, an active rear wing, dual-zone climate, cruise control, 18-way electric and heated seats up front and an Alcantara-wrapped heated steering wheel.

Ticking the options box ramps the price up though, like in the case of our £131,672 test car. Options include the Dynamic Chassis Control system (£3,527), carbon composite brakes (£6,707) and adaptive cruise (£1,787).

(Porsche)

Verdict

Porsche’s latest Panamera has long been a supremely impressive car, and that’s no different with the GTS — which may just be the sweet spot of the range.

It adds a strong level of performance to the saloon without compromising on its everyday usability and looks as good as ever, too. Though handling is impressively sharp, it doesn’t deliver a rushing thrill when behind the wheel — more a cool and calculated driving experience.

For a car that does it all, the Porsche Panamera GTS might just be the one to go for. That is, as long as you’re willing to stump up its steep price and be prepared to dip into your wallet more for much-needed options.

  • Model: Porsche Panamera GTS
  • Price: £131,672
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Power (bhp): 454
  • Torque (Nm): 620
  • Max speed (mph): 181
  • 0-60mph: 3.9 seconds
  • MPG: 22.3-23.5
  • Emissions (g/km): 235g/km
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