Thursday, June 9, 2011

Porsche Panamera 4.8 V8 Turbo S PDK

This is the £122,623 Panamera Turbo S, a riotous extension of Stuttgart’s blown four-door rocketship boasting, at 543bhp, a crowd-pleasing 50bhp more than the standard Turbo. More pertinently, the Turbo S produces 553lb ft, rising to 590lb ft with overboost, compared with the non-S Turbo’s positively asthmatic 516lb ft, or overboosted 567lb ft.

The Turbo S also gets cosmetic upgrades including side skirts, new 20-inch alloys, 5mm spacers behind the rear wheels to widen the track (Porsche says it’s an aesthetic upgrade, not a performance one), revised engine bay styling, a two-tone leather interior and its own unique agate grey metallic paint option. It also comes as standard with a sports exhaust, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and a Sport Chrono Package, all upgrades that would be cost options on lesser Panameras.

What’s it like?

This is a properly fast car laden with kit. Top speed is 191mph, which is faintly academic, while 0-62mph appears at the touch of a button, thanks to launch control, in 3.8sec, which is faintly ridiculous for a 1995kg saloon.

In-gear acceleration and overboost-enhanced kickdown are roundly impressive too, with the Turbo S capable of dispatching overtakes or reeling-in big chunks of the horizon in a manner that doesn’t befit something so large and luxurious.

But that’s nothing compared with the tricks the Turbo S’s chassis can perform. Don’t be fooled, this is no four-seat 911 in outright handling terms, but the three-mode switchable PASM, PDCC and the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) work together to contain, control and coerce the Turbo S to the extent that it can be hustled along a mountain pass in a way that takes some adjusting to, particularly in the PASM’s lowered Sport Plus mode.

There’s an almost unnatural lack of body roll for such a big car, and it takes ham-footed stabs at the accelerator to find the limits of traction on corner exits. At times you’re aware that there’s a lot going on beyond your fundamental steering, braking and accelerator inputs, but the systems themselves aren’t overly intrusive, and they’re broadly welcome for the combination of dynamic agility and electro-mechanical safety net that they provide.

There is an overall feeling of artificiality to the way the Panamera goes about its business of devouring challenging twisty roads. It is, however, an impressive, accomplished and entertaining experience, although if you explore the limits of the Turbo S’s dynamic repertoire for too long it’s debatable whether your three passengers would enjoy the experience as much as you would from the driving seat.

Should I buy one?

And with performance like this on offer you can start to forgive the Panamera’s more challenging aesthetic disadvantages, but even so, nigh-on £123k is a lot of money to spend in order to transport four people, even if you do want to do so (very) quickly and quite luxuriously. And if you only want to use all four seats on occasion, then the Panamera, any Panamera, is a lot of car to be driving around in for the rest of the time.

As an engineering achievement the Turbo S is a mightily impressive one, but arguing a convincing case for its purchase isn’t quite so clear cut. However, at this price point purchases start to happen beyond the normal conventions of automotive buying decisions, so if you’ve got £120,000 or so gathering dust on the kitchen table then you won’t be in the least bit disappointed if you spend it on one of these.

Tim Dickson

Porsche Panamera Turbo S

Price: £122,623; 0-62mph: 3.8sec; Top speed: 191mph; Kerb weight: 1995kg; Economy: 24.6mpg (combined); Co2: 270g/km; Engine: V8, 4806cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Max power: 543bhp at 6000rpm; Max torque: 590lb ft at 2500-4000rpm (overboost)


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