Porsche's performance sedan enters its sixth year of production in current form, and yet the Panamera feels just as athletic to us as it did the day it was born. The real surprise comes during relaxed cruising, when the Panamera turns eerily smooth and quiet, as if pampering you were its only mission.
What's New for 2015
The 570-horsepower Turbo S models debuts, and all versions get audio system upgrades.
Choosing Your Porsche Panamera
Although it boasts four doors, the Panamera carries the sloping rear roofline of a coupe and a power liftgate in place of a conventional trunk lid. The interior features individual rear seats, which limits seating to four, although the two in back enjoy scads of legroom with the optional extended wheelbase.
The engine roster starts out with a 3.6-liter V6 with 310 horsepower. Next up is a turbocharged 3-liter V6 that makes 420 horsepower. The available 4.8-liter V8 is good for 440 horsepower. For a maximum performance, a turbocharged version of the V8 packs 520 or 570 horsepower depending on the trim level. All engines are paired with a seven-speed automated manual transmission dubbed PDK, and all-wheel drive is available or standard across the board.
The Panamera's trim levels differ mainly in performance potential and wheelbase length:
Base: Comes with the 3.6-liter V6 and rear-wheel drive, plus a leather interior with heated front seats, a navigation system, a sunroof, Bluetooth phone and audio, and an 11-speakers sound system with HD and satellite radio. Outside are 18-inch wheels, auto-leveling xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, and LED accent lighting.
4: Adds all-wheel drive to the standard Panamera.
S: Gets the more powerful turbocharged V6, along with an adaptive suspension, quad exhaust outlets, adaptive headlamps, specific wheels and chrome window surrounds.
4S: Combines the S upgrades with all-wheel drive. An adaptive air suspension can be added.
4S Executive: Rides on a 5.9-inch longer wheelbase and comes standard with 4S's optional air suspension. In addition, you get numerous interior upgrades, including ventilated and heated seats all around, soft-close doors, power rear sunshades, four-zone automatic climate control, and special window glass that insulates the cabin from noise and heat.
GTS: Get the V8 engine and performance upgrades like a sport-tuned exhaust system, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, 19-inch wheels and 18-way adaptive sports seats with memory. The interior receives a simulated suede headliner and carbon fiber trim. The standard Sport Chrono package adds a Sport Plus driving mode with launch control, and digital and analog stopwatches. The GTS is available with rear-drive only.
Turbo: Carries the 520-horsepower version of the turbocharged V8 and all-wheel drive, which is standard at this level and above. Additional features include an extended leather interior, heated front and rear seats, expanded driver memory functions, LED headlamps, keyless ignition and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system. The Sport Chrono package (which is optional here) adds an overboost function that temporarily increases torque under full throttle.
Turbo Executive: Adds the extended wheelbase and all the extra interior conveniences that go with it.
Turbo S: Gets the 570-horsepower V8 turbo along with adaptive anti-roll bars, a torque-vectoring rear differential and specific 20-inch wheels. An adaptive rear spoiler and two-tone leather upholstery are also part of the deal. The Sport Chrono package comes standard. As the performance champ of line, the Turbo S sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
Turbo S Executive: Gives you all of the Turbo S performance upgrades in the spacious long-wheelbase body.
As expected in a Porsche, the list of individual options goes on forever. Highlights include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, voice controls, a rear entertainment system, a refrigerated compartment with drinking glasses, and an ultra-premium 16-speaker Burmester surround-sound system. Most of the indulgent interior appointments that come with the extended wheelbase are optional on standard-length models. The Sport Chrono package can be added to any model that doesn't already have it.
The price differences between the upper trim levels are vast, which accounts for the Panamera's $78,000-to-$200,000 price span. Both the turbocharged V8 and extended wheelbase come at a very high price, so we recommend sampling cars without those features before you decide whether to indulge.