When you build nothing but highly-regarded two-door sports cars for over 50 years, adding a four-door sedan to the lineup is sure to rankle a few doctrinaires. But if there's any brand that can pull off doubling the amount of doors without halving the fun quotient, it's Porsche. Introduced in 2009, the Panamera sedan shares more with the 911 than just a sloping roofline; it embodies the same philosophy of unparalleled performance that has been the company's guiding light since the days of Ferdinand himself. For 2018, that tradition of excellence continues.
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2018 Porsche Panamera Overview
What's New for 2018
The addition of the wagon-esque Sport Turismo makes it's debut for 2018. Both this model and the E-Hybrid line are marketed separately.
Choosing Your Porsche Panamera
The base rear-wheel-drive Panamera uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 330 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. It's hooked up to Porsche's eight-speed PDK transmission that is used throughout the Panamera lineup. This powertrain lets the sport sedan get to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds and return an EPA estimated 21 miles per gallon city, 28 highway and 24 combined (though it probably can't accomplish both feats at the same time). It's only available in the standard-length 116.1-inch wheelbase. The Panamera 4 uses the same 3.0-liter engine, but comes standard with all-wheel drive and are two-tenths of a second faster to 60 mph.
The Panamera 4S ups the ante with a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 that pumps out 440 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. It'll scoot to 60 in 4.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 179 miles an hour, and when not being treated like a 911 it will return fuel economy of 21 city, 28 highway, and 23 combined mpg.
The big cheese, though, is neither of the V6 powerplants - it's the Turbo. Thanks to it's 550-horsepower twin-turbo V8, 0-60 comes in an impressive 3.6 seconds, and top speed is an impressive 190 mph. Even with this kind of power, the Panamera Turbo remains relatively economical when driven in a docile manner, returning fuel economy of 18/25/21.
All but the base Panamera are offered with an optional long-wheelbase body, adding 5.9 inches between the front and rear axle. While it's probably not great for handling and it has an unfortunate effect on the car's proportions, the extra space makes the Panamera an impressive chauffeur vehicle. Porsche markets all of its long-wheelbase Panameras with the "Executive" designation. The long-wheelbase adds $6,700 to the price of the Panamera 4, $10,900 to the 4S, and $10,000 to the Turbo.
In the world of Porsche, standard equipment remains essentially the same throughout each trim level; what's upgraded is the power and performance. The Panamera is no different, and the dizzying number of options remains consistent throughout each flavor of Panamera. Notable extras include the surround-view camera, 14- or 18-way power seats with memory, carbon-ceramic brakes, air suspension, adaptive cruise control, rear-wheel steering, night vision, eight-way power rear seats and a special leather interior package with deviated stitching. Audiophiles can get a 14-speaker, 710-watt Bose sound system or a 21-speaker, 1,455-watt Burmester sound system. There is also a rear seat entertainment unit available that has dual removable ten-inch touchscreens which attach to the back of the front headrest.
Besides the a-la-cart options, a few packages are on tap. The Sport Design Package includes unique front and rear fascias as well as side sills. The Sport Chrono Package includes a stopwatch, Sport Plus drive mode, a custom drive mode with individually adjustable parameters, and launch control. A Premium Package bundles Comfort Access (which lets you unlock the door by just touching the door), the Bose system, blind-spot monitoring, and the 14-way seats. The Premium Plus Package includes all of that along with heated rear seats, soft-close doors, ventilated front seats and Porsche's Dynamic Light System. The Assistance Package includes active safety features such as night vision, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist.
There are - and you may want to sit down for this - a whopping 15 different wheel designs and 18 exterior color choices. If that Crayola-rivaling palette doesn't have your ideal hue, Porsche offers the ability to choose a custom color, though they need a minimum of six months to make it happen. Interiors can be upholstered in leather and Alcantara, and wood, carbon fiber and aluminum trim is available.
The Sport Chrono Package costs $2,270 but is worth the extra cash, with the additional drive mode and launch control features allowing buyers to wring out all the performance built into this extra-capable sedan. We'd also equip our Panamera with the air suspension, as it gives a noticeably more luxurious ride compared to the steel springs that come standard.
2018 Porsche Panamera Review
Porsche has hit some roadblocks in their mission to bring a sports-car ethos to larger cars, but they’ve gamely kept up the fight (probably because it’s making them gobs of money). The good news is that they keep getting better – the 2018 Porsche Panamera puts its aesthetic woes in the past and does its best 911 impression. With a staggering 16 models to choose from, it’s one of the most tempting luxury sedans on the market, as long as you have deep pockets, that is.
The Panamera E-Hybrid makes a compelling bid, but, in the end, Porsches are about driving, and that means the Panamera 4S wins out for its lower weight and traditional brake feel. In the conventional body style, if you please – the Sport Turismo looks sharp, but the minimal extra cargo space comes at about $3,650 per cubic foot. The 4S starts at $104,050 and gets the twin-turbo V6, which produces 440 horsepower while managing respectable mileage. It comes standard with the usual Porsche comforts, including front and rear parking sensors, navigation, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
In addition to the beefier engine, the 4S opens up options for adaptive suspension and rear-wheel steering (which you’ll want). With a couple tasteful package and option selections, you can have a car for all occasions without straying too far from $100,000. Here’s what it would look like:
- Model: 2018 Porsche Panamera 4S
- Engine: 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6
- Output: 440 hp / 405 lb-ft
- Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- MPG: 21 City / 28 Hwy
- Options: Metallic exterior color ($830), Sport Package ($6,940, adaptive suspension, active suspension management, rear-axle steering, Sport Plus mode, personalized performance settings, launch control, sport exhaust), Premium Package ($3,860, keyless entry, remote start, 14-way power seats with memory, blind-spot monitoring, Bose surround sound system), Voice Control ($0)
- Base Price:$104,050 (including the $1,050 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$115,680
The Panamera boasts impressive performance throughout the lineup. The cheapest Panamera will still sprint to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, and the Turbo drops a full two seconds off that time. Turbo and electric powertrains mean wide torque availability and everyday usability. Handling and grip are as formidable as you’d expect from a Porsche, but refined enough to be comfortable on longer journeys. The eight-speed PDK gearbox functions just fine as an automatic, but will also let you fire off lightning-quick shifts with the paddles behind the wheel.
The Panamera manages its bulk well, but it's not a light car at 4,001 pounds. E-Hybrid models add up to an additional 1,000 pounds, which dampens the fun to be had in corners. E-Hybrid models also suffer from awkward brake feel because of overlap between mechanical and regenerative braking. The Panamera is capable in all guises, but hybrid models are best suited to those who are willing to sacrifice a little responsiveness for efficiency.
The first Panamera was – how do we put this – quirky in the looks department, but the 2018 version is a step up in all respects. The roofline is slightly lower, complemented by a long hood and wide hips designed with the 911 in mind. Wraparound taillights are connected with a thin strip of LEDs, and elegant chrome badging is the cherry on top. The interior is tech-focused and comfortable, with capacitive touch switches and a central 12.3-inch screen.
The lower roofline means that head room is only average, and cargo capacity is more in line with a sedan than a hatchback. If you were hoping to seat five, look elsewhere. The Panamera Sport Turismo is available with a rear bench, but the middle is nowhere you'd want to sit for very long.
The Best and Worst Things
The handling and performance are everything we hoped, but it would be nice if the Sport Turismo could add more space (or a real fifth seat).
Right For? Wrong For?
The Panamera is an excellent choice for a wide variety of buyers. It’s as good on a back road as it is a daily driver. It’s perfect for the parent who can’t quite get away with driving a sports car, but still wants a car with real verve. As a bonus, the all-wheel drive means the Panamera can thrive in any climate.
If the family includes five, however, it’s best to look elsewhere. The Panamera also won’t replace a crossover or SUV – it carries more like a spacious sedan than a true hatchback.
The Bottom Line
Minor annoyances aside, it’s hard to find a real downside to the 2018 Porsche Panamera. The styling is more palatable than ever, the fun factor is plentiful, and it's easy to find your preferred level of performance and luxury with the wide array of models. The days when purists can claim that the Panamera isn't a true Porsche ought to be at a close.