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Review: Porsche's Panamera - More than just an acquired taste?

2017-08-10 09:06

Image: Porsche

Janine Van der Post

Cape Town - The Panamera is either loved, or disliked. It's really one of those cars that shouldn't be judged by its cover.

Even then, the cover is pretty good-looking in its own right.

People love to call it ugly, or even 'Hunchback', while others call it a whale.

The Panamera was first launched in 2010 and it's been given a facelift since then. Then in 2016, the second generation was revealed.

According to the automaker, the Panamera got its name just like the Porsche Carrera line, from the Carrera Panamericana race.

According to the automaker, the Panamera is generally considered to be the long-awaited fruit of Porsche's 989 concept vehicle from the late 1980s.

But, this unshapely vehicle didn't quite get the warm welcome the automaker would have liked at first, very much just like the Cayenne SUV first did when it arrived, according to the firm. It went against everything Porsche stood for and hardcore fans were not happy.

But why was it such an abomination? Because it weighs in at 1800kg on the car scale, has four doors, and its engine is mounted in the front. It goes against everything that the Porsche purists have been used to. 

I beg to differ. I think its shape is sophisticated, and for its sheer size, it has superb handling and grit off the line for a full-sized luxury saloon that weighs nearly 2 tonnes. 

Those who don't appreciate its beauty might consider it to be a stretched out 911 with its long front end and broad rear. And most probably yes, it does look that way. But, I like to think of it as a Porsche for grown ups and those who need a family vehicle but don't want to miss out on everything that is simply Porsche - pure driving pleasure. 

The latest Panamera is even more refined with sharper and more chiseled design lines.

And my absolute favourite? That spoiler which is completely flush in the rear end just above the Porsche badging and comes out elegantly when driving at higher speeds like a pair of majestic wings on a lofty divine stallion like Pegasus. The instinctive mechanism there of is mechanically beautiful.

But its lofty looks are deceiving from the moment you turn that fancy Porsche-shaped key in the ignition and the Panamera lets out a growl that is distinctively Porsche.

It's absolutely comfortable to drive and its handling capabilities are without a doubt exhilarating. It's not just a basic luxury limo for the family. Gear shifts are seamless from the new ZF gearbox which replaces the old 7-speed PDK dual clutch 'box.

The version we had on test was the Panamera Turbo good for a delicious 404kW/770Nm coming from the 4.0-litre-V8 petrol unit. It goes from zero to 100km/h in 3.6s with Sport Chrono; 306km/h top speed.

It drives like any other sporty sibling in the Porsche stable. It's powerful and its size doesn't hold it back in swifty corners and lavish sweeps. It's looks might be an acquired taste, but you could get used to its styling pretty fast and it will even be forgiven once you get to the driving part. There's nothing ghastly about its performance.

The Panamera has a sumptuous interior with expensive leathers and materials. The technology and equipment also looks a lot more modern than the previous version I drove a few years ago. It's high-tech and digital, yet still exudes a classic Porsche facia.

Pricing for the Panamera Turbo comes in at R2 481 000. 

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