Years of speculation concerning what was beneath the disguises of Panamera test mules have been vindicated with "official images". No surprises then, it’s not pretty.
Official Porsche Panamera images
Back in 2002, Porsche tried to erode nearly all its brand identity with the Cayenne SUV - arguably the most capable, yet disastrously ugly SUV yet. Despite this, the brand has soldiered on, capitalising on the practically incomparable image of the 911 and Boxster ranges.
Already the most profitable auto manufacturer per car globally, Porsche is keen on wooing buyers who need pace (911) and space, yet can do without locking differentials or superfluous amounts of ground clearance (Cayenne). With Mercedes-Benz’s CLS proving four-door saloons can be infused with a definitive ‘want-one’ factor, Porsche happened on the idea of a technically superior, four-door performance car.
Obviously the mechanical details were never going to be an issue; Porsche has an impeccable engineering pedigree – the styling though, especially after the Cayenne disaster, has been the ongoing concern.
Big, bold and bloody odd looking
Spy pics and disguised prototypes (many snapped in South Africa) hardly placated Porsche enthusiasts, and now the ‘official’ images have brought home the issue without any subtlety – the Panamera is an odd looking car. At 4.96m in length, 1.92m in width, standing 1.42m tall and sporting a 2.92m wheelbase it’s also a rather large car, which exacerbates its aesthetics ‘issues’ further.
Though one can see Porsche has tried to include as many 911 styling details as possible to embellish Panamera with some sense of brand heritage, in a car so much larger, it simply does not blend well. Although the front air-intakes and bumper treatment mimics the 911 closely, the presence of a front-engined configuration can be seen in the sculptured surfaces of the bonnet.
In profile, and especially from the rear, the cars looks out of proportion, with the body panel curvature beyond the rear axle creating plenty of the wrong type of visual tension.
Performance is sure to be keen with an entry level VW sourced 223kW 3.6l V6, fleshed out by a Cayenne sourced 298kW 4.8l V8 and topped off by a turbocharged version of the same engine, producing 373kW. Gearboxes are expected to be a six-speed manual and seven-speed Porsche PDK double-clutch transmission.
Pandering to environmental demands a 260kW V6 hybrid is also on the cards.
Though economic pressure has been severe enough to render one of the Panamera’s closest rivals – BMW’s CS – stillborn, Porsche is hoping to sell 20 000 units annually when it comes to market next year.
When it was launched, everyone said the Cayenne looked terrible (they were right) and it would not sell because of aesthetic reasons, and the concept being an affront to Porsche’s traditional ownership demographic.
Cayenne sales figures proved most pundits very wrong indeed. Panamera is sure to boast massive technical ability, whether it can succeed in spite of its looks and a global auto market in freefall is to be seen…