A trio of slightly disguised Porsche Panameras were caught out and about in dusty Clarens where a Wheels24 reader snapped the new four-door model.
Though only scheduled for an official appearance at the 2009 Geneva Show, the eagerly anticipated fourth model from Zuffenhausen is billed to go head-to-head with the Aston Martin Rapide (shown to great acclaim at the Detroit Motor Show early this year) and the established Mercedes-Benz CLS that spawned the four-door coupe segment.
Though the Panamera builds strongly on the values captured in the 911 range, the range will likely be introduced with V8 power only. The newcomer will however do away with the traditional rear-mounted engine layout in favour of front-mounted units.
Three powerplants are expected in the range including a 221-kW 3.5 litre unit sourced from Volkswagen, and Porsches own eight-cylinder petrol engine developing 260 kW in naturally aspirated mode, or a head-snapping 415 kW in twin-turbo guise.
Expect a dual-clutch transmission to be in use, and the range-topping model could be fitted with a version of the discontinued Carrera GT's V10.
Porsche hopes this model will be a usable family car that would comfortably seat four with easy access to the rear and enough luggage space for all.
Panamera will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany with the body being sourced from Volkswagen plant on Hanover. Porsche plans to produce 20 000 units a year from 2009.