The 2012 Porsche Panamera S elevates the notion of what the four-door luxury performance car should be. For while there are others that aspire to operate on this level, the luxurious Panamera is unique in that it delivers the comfort generally associated with such a car, combined with the spectacularly high performance standard the Porsche crest implies.
Performance-Themed Luxury for Four
The Panamera S seats four occupants in accommodations that are jet-like in their luxury and never lose sight of the sporting genetics that tie the entire car together. Unlike a traditional sedan, the interior of the Panamera is designed with a full center console that extends all the way back between the rear seats. The rear occupants each get individual sport seats that mimic those in the front of the car both in looks and comfort.
Drivers can choose from a variety of leather and wood interior offerings to liven the sports-car like cockpit, which features driver-centric, signature Porsche elements such as the left-side ignition switch and prominent tachometer. Clever conveniences include a multifunction display in one of the gauge faces that lets drivers cycle through different pieces of information ranging from radio stations and phone activity to important navigation system information.
The center console is intuitively laid out, and every control is easy to find and use, right at the driver’s fingertips. Even conveniences like cupholders offer multiple solutions; a single, console-mounted cupholder up front is supplemented by a pair of additional cupholders that hide behind a door on the dashboard, ready to swing out and ratchet shut around beverages as needed.
The cargo area opens wide for easy hatchback access, and owners can order specially fitted luggage from Porsche that ensures each occupant can travel with everything they need.
Every Porsche Panamera is equipped with Porsche Communication Management (PCM) as standard equipment. This centrally located 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment interface puts many of the car’s most important functions right in front of the driver, including radio, Bluetooth telephone controls and the standard hard-drive navigation system. An intuitive combination of touch commands and input dials and buttons make accessing and modifying the various settings quick and painless.
A 245-watt, 11-speaker sound system is standard, and that’s just the beginning. Also standard is the Universal Audio Interface, hidden in the front center console, which provides both auxiliary and USB jacks to support a wide variety of portable media players, including the iPod, which can be controlled fully via the car’s PCM touch-screen.
Drivers can choose to upgrade the stock audio package to a 14-speaker, 585-watt Bose sound system that raises the standard for audio quality with 5.1-channel surround-sound and Bose AudioPilot noise cancellation technology to mitigate unwanted ambient interior noise.
The Panamera S can also be outfitted with a Burmester High-End Surround Sound System developed explicitly for the interior of the Panamera. With more than 1,000 watts of power funneled to 16 speakers via 16 separate channels, the result is an aural experience that rivals that of the most premium in-home systems.
The Porsche Rear Seat Entertainment system, courtesy of Porsche Exclusive, puts a seven-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) display on each front seatback. These displays are outfitted with their own media players and have touch-screen interfaces, allowing each rear passenger to entertain him- or herself while on a journey.
Power and Performance
Lift the sculpted hood of the Porsche Panamera S and you’re reminded that it is still very much a performance car. Driving the car’s rear wheels is a direct-injected, naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 engine that produces a muscled-up 400 hp and 369 lb/ft of torque. Harnessing that power is the standard seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung twin-clutch transmission, which delivers lightning-quick shifts when being operated manually by the driver and when operating as a conventional automatic when the car is simply left in “Drive.”
The Panamera S races from zero to 60 mph in a scant 5.2 seconds, and keeps going all the way up to 175 mph. Performance and efficiency meet as well; the Panamera S is equipped with an Auto Start/Stop function that will shut down the engine at stoplights when the driver has the brake pedal held down. When the brake is released to resume travel, the system seamlessly reengages the engine with no driver intervention required. The system helps to both improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, and can be disabled by the driver if desired.
The Panamera S is also offered in an all-wheel drive variant – the Panamera 4S. Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive propels the Panamera 4S from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and the icing is 24 mpg highway fuel economy.
Speed and Style, with Room to Share
The 2012 Panamera S (MSRP $91,350) is a rolling display of everything Porsche has learned so far. The performance of its sports cars and the space and comfort of its SUVs, rolled into a sleek, attractive profile. Porsche’s first four-passenger GT is indeed unique. No others are like it because, frankly, no others are from Porsche.