NEW LOOK: The next Porsche Panamera has been spied while being put through its paces on a racetrack. Image: Supplied
COLOGNE, Germany - A face-lifted version of Porsche's Panamera was only introduced a year earlier but development of a successor is well under way here in 2015, as shown by another sighting of a prototype – the first time the car was raced on the challenging Nurburgring track.
The new Panamera isn’t expected on the market until 2016 so chassis mules were seen in public even earlier but this is the best sighting yet of the real machine. There’s a good reason for this: underpinning the new car is a brand-new platform that will eventually spawn several high-end models from the VW Group.
The new platform is a modular standard platform, or MSB when derived from its German title “Modularer Standardantrieb-Baukasten”.
This platform will also be used for Bentley’s next Continental range and, in modified form (the engine moved to the rear), is tipped to underpin the next Porsche 911.
Thanks to a mix of materials, among them high-strength steel, aluminium and even some composites, the MSB will make the new Panamera lighter and stiffer than the current model. Weight savings could be as high as 100kg, depending on trim and accessories.
Styling-wise, 2012’s Panamera Sport Turismo concept points the way. The shape won’t change much but the new car should looks sleeker, its surfaces tauter. Though it has critics, the current model has proved a huge hit in the market - more than 100 000 units have been sold since its 2009 launch so Porsche isn't likely to rock the boat.
GALLERY: First look at the next Panamera
The variety of power trains on offer for the current model is likely to remain, though with revisions to improve efficiency and perhaps boost power on certain models. For the 2014 model year the Panamera S was downsized to a twin-turbo V6 from the previous V8.
The range-topping Panamera Turbo should keep its V8, however.
A plug-in hybrid model will once again be offered but with better battery technology making the car lighter and with a longer range. The current Panamera S E-Hybrid weighs a hefty 2000kg.
A previous report suggested that a manual transmission would not be offered on the next Panamera. All-wheel drive and a long-wheelbase options will remain, however.