Panamera pushes the envelope
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The latest luxury Porsche sedan is new from the tyres up
Porsche New Zealand has given a sneak preview of the all-new Panamera premium sedan just weeks before it officially goes on sale here.
The company held an exclusive media session at Hampton Downs racetrack on Tuesday evening, with two factory-lent models on show: the Turbo and 4S.
The 4S is priced from $275,300 and the Turbo will cost from $346,300. Both models, along with a diesel 4S, will go on sale in New Zealand from December. A plug-in hybrid version will follow that Porsche says has a 50km range.
The second-generation has been reworked from the tyres up. It gains new engines, a reworked transmission, new chassis and, more importantly, a new exterior appearance.
The first generation Panamera garnered unfavourable reviews due to its appearance, which looked more like an extended 911 than a stand-alone Porsche model.
But the Panamera has joined the Macan, new Boxster and Cayman with a more dominant design with the German luxury brand not afraid to push new technology to emphasis their sports vehicles. The all-new GT-style Panamera has extended proportions, flared shoulders, a more dynamic roofline and striking front and rear LED lights. Four circles form the front lightsand the rear wrap-around LED lights make a dramatic addition.
The new Panamera also features extensive use of aluminium in the body shell.
The Gran Turismo has three new twin-turbo engines, with the 4S now paired with a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine, down from 3-litre twin-turbo but producing 324kW of power and 550Nm of torque. The diesel 4S has a 4-litre V8 engine (310kW/850Nm) which Porsche claims will be the world's fastest diesel, while the Turbo has a 4-litre, V8 engine (404kW/770Nm), a change from the 4.8-litre engine in the previous model.
All models now have Porsche's dual-clutch transmission (PDK) with eight speeds and all-wheel drive.
New features also include rear axle steering, three-chamber air suspension, the electromechanical roll stabilisation system, and Porsche's dynamic chassis control sport (PDCC Sport) with Porsche torque vectoring plus (PTV Plus).
Inside the cabin, the Porsche has one of the most advanced cockpits seen in any luxury product -- even out-performing Mercedes-Benz's two screen dash in the E-Class, and the S-Class's infotainment layout.
Porsche instead has gone futuristic with the black panel surfaces and interactive touchscreen displays with the tachometer the only traditional dial. The look is both sci-fi and glamour. If this is an indicator of how the brand intends to style the inside of its sports cars, then Porsche New Zealand will be gaining even more customers.
Porsche NZ sells about 12 Panamera a year, but expects to increase that number with the new model.
The company also had the facelift Cayman S on show during the twilight drive session at Hampton Downs. Priced from $153,800 for the PDK transmission version, the Cayman S comes with a 2.5-litre, tour-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 257kW of power and 420Nm of torque.
It, like the new Boxster, is badged 718 as the company plays on Porsche's mid-engine 718s that won numerous races in the 1950s and 60s, including Le Mans, at Nurburgring and Targa Florio.
But the vehicles of the evening had to be the Panameras. First up for me was the 4S, a smart start so I could "move up" to the Turbo with its option of 4D Chassis Control (that reduces body roll) and a rear wing that spreads at speed.
Dialling in Sport mode for the first of three laps in the 4S, the Panamera defied any notion that this is a luxury sedan. Instead it harks to its sports performance abilities with a "sedate" 160km/h first nudge down the new straight, then took on the new tight and banking corners of the circuit.
With Sport+ in lap two and three, the speeds were notched up on the straight and corners but I found the body roll hindered my performance-- especially with a colleague in the Turbo on my tail!
But in the Turbo, those corners were smoothed out and, although the 4S had the delightful crackle from the exhaust, the Turbo is the model that you can take from track to a road trip without any complaints.