Vehicle Profile: The 2012 Porsche Panamera 4 and 4S
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Looking for the recipe for hauling you and three of your friends around rapidly and in top-shelf luxury, even if you all happen to be nearly seven feet tall and it's the middle of a snowstorm? You need but a single ingredient, and that's the Porsche Panamera 4 or the even more rapid Panamera 4S.
The four-door, four-seat 2012 Porsche Panamera 4 (MSRP $79,800) is an all-wheel drive, 159-mph Grand Turismo that's built with the characteristic attention to detail and impressive solidity that have been the hallmarks of the German sports car manufacturer since the company’s inception. Performance is accompanied by efficiency in the Panamera 4, which returns 26 mpg on the highway.
The Panamera 4 is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that's constructed from aluminum and uses a balance shaft to minimize vibration. Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing allow both economical running and the lively performance expected from a Porsche. A dry-sump lubrication system allows the engine to be positioned lower in the chassis to help lower the center of gravity. Power output is 300 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque, which propels the Panamera 4 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
The Porsche Panamera 4S (MSRP $95,200) adds another 100 hp to the game thanks to a 4.8-liter V8 that is based on the same architecture as the V6, which means alloy construction, dry-sump lubrication and DFI and VarioCam Plus. The V8 uses a variable intake manifold as well, and delivers 400 hp and 369 lb/ft of torque. Top speed jumps from the already-impressive 159 mph to 175 mph.
The "4" in the model name denotes the fact that all four wheels are driven by either the V6 or V8 powerplant. All-wheel drive serves up benefits when the weather is less than perfect, of course, but there's a real performance benefit to having all four wheels clawing at the pavement. Porsche takes a holistic approach to all-wheel drive in the Panamera 4 and Panamera 4S. Porsche Traction Management (PTM) is standard equipment on both models. PTM wraps the active all-wheel drive system, which uses a sophisticated multi-plate clutch to distribute torque between the front and rear axles, into a package with Automatic Brake Differential (ABD), which directs torque between the left and right wheels, and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) to rein in wheelspin. It's a smart system that uses control maps and feedback from sensors to optimize stability and ensure the perfect distribution of the engine's power.
The Panamera casts a large shadow – that's how it can be so accommodating for both adult-sized humans and their attendant luggage – but Porsche employs lightweight construction techniques to keep the curb weight as low as possible. It's why the engines are all alloy. With less mass to motivate, thrilling performance is easier to obtain without creating a car that spends natural resources in a profligate manner. Porsche knows about efficiency from its long history in motorsports, and those lessons result in the Panamera 4 and Panamera 4S treading lightly with high-efficiency, high-power output powertrains that create low carbon dioxide emissions for their class. Auto Start/Stop is also part of the Panamera bag of tricks, shutting the engine down when conditions permit to save fuel otherwise wasted during long idling periods when the energy use is achieving zero miles per gallon.
Another lesson Porsche has learned well from motorsports is chassis dynamics. The Panamera handles in the Porsche way, which means astoundingly well, perhaps better than anything else in its class. The Panamera is capable of things you wouldn't expect, right out of the box, and buyers can choose to up its game with the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), which keeps a tight leash on body motions with an active anti-roll system. PDCC also includes PTV Plus torque vectoring to assertively move the torque around and aid cornering performance. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), standard on the Panamera 4S and available on the Panamera 4, incorporates electronically controlled dampers that offer three driver-selectable modes. The choice of “Comfort,” “Sport” or “Sport Plus” is available via buttons on the center console. PASM uses sensors to evaluate road conditions and adjust damper settings to make the most of available traction and return the performance you’re asking for.
The idea of a four-wheel drive Porsche sedan may seem anathema to everything you know about the brand, but given further examination, it makes perfect sense. While a sports car, which Porsche is well-known for, is a fair-weather, two-person affair most of the time, the Panamera 4 and Panamera 4S are true year-round Porsches that pack practicality, comfort and performance into a package that's distinctive and screwed together with the characteristic peerless quality of vehicles from Weissach. You can take the whole family with you, and there's plenty of space for luggage or even groceries. The Panamera 4 and Panamera 4S may be the most practical Porsche models ever, which in turn makes them the greatest achievement for the brand because that practicality doesn't come at the expense of the core Porsche values.
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Looking to Save?
Check here for Dealer Specials.