Imagine sitting behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the most luxuriously appointed and exquisitely designed interior you’ve ever seen, revving a 500-hp V8 while standing on the brakes, then holding on as you rocket from zero-to-60 mph in 3.8 face-contorting seconds. Now come to a complete and safe stop, and witness the exhilarated expressions of the two people seated comfortably behind you. Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t; it’s the 2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo.
The Porsche Panamera Turbo ($135,300 MSRP) is without question one of the fastest and best handling machines ever created that can still seat four full-grown adults in complete comfort
and pampered luxury. It is yet another bold design from the legends of Zuffenhausen, combining all the blistering speed and handling characteristics of the 911 with the passenger carrying capability of the Cayenne. But where the Panamera really strikes its own unique identity is with its interior.
The cockpit of this four-door Porsche looks and feels like a luxury coach. Everything, including the dashboard, is draped in supple leather trim and lined with your choice of Walnut, Tineo, Anthracite Birch, Yachting Mahogany or Carbon Fiber. But as soon as you sit behind the wheel and see the tachometer front and center, you know immediately that this is no motor home; it’s a proper sportscar of German descent.
The elevated center console that runs all the way past the rear seats also brings the shifter closer to the steering wheel, enhancing the sporting feel of the Panamera. The optional, heated, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel feels custom tailored to your hands. When paired with Porsche’s outstanding PDK dual-clutch gearbox, the wheel’s paddleshifters allow you to click through all seven gears with astonishing speed while still being able to control the radio, navigation and your Bluetooth®-integrated telephone.
Interior options on the Panamera Turbo capture the epitome of luxury, and aren’t limited to thermal and noise-insulated glass, electric rear-window sun blinds, dimmable LED-illuminated footwells and reading lights for all passengers, four-zone climate control and painted air vent slats.
The Panamera Turbo is equipped standard with Porsche Communication Management (with available voice control), which centralizes all audio, navigation and communications control. The system’s seven-inch, high-resolution touchscreen is intuitive and offers incredible capability including an optional hybrid TV tuner that can receive free-to-air analog and digital broadcasts. The TV tuner can be viewed both on the main navigation screen and on available Rear Seat Entertainment LCD monitors behind the front seat headrests. Both monitors can be individually controlled and come with wireless headsets for privacy.
For audiophiles, the Panamera Turbo comes with a standard Bose® Surround Sound System or an optional Burmester® High-End Surround Sound System, which delivers uncompromised extravagance and craftsmanship in the pursuit of perfect sound. With 16 amplifier channels, 16 loudspeakers, an active subwoofer, ribbon-based Air Motion Transformer tweeters and over 1,000 watts of output, the Burmester system delivers natural and richly textured sound like you’d find in the most premium home entertainment systems.
All of this opulence adds up to a total curb weight of 4,000 pounds, but when driving the Panamera Turbo, it feels like far less. Credit this incredible control of weight to Porsche engineers, who’ve made the Panamera’s handling dynamics like a true sportscar. With the optional Sport Chrono Package, the driver can choose different suspension settings, which adjust the valving and spring rate of the adaptive air suspension. With the available Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), the anti-rollbars actively couple and decouple, making body roll in hard corners almost nonexistent.
The all-wheel drive system in the Panamera Turbo not only helps it achieve an outrageous sub-four second zero-to-60 launch, it also helps the Panamera’s Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 treads to grip in corners, making the Panamera a reliable all-weather vehicle. Understeer in the Panamera is surprisingly minimal and, with the touch of the throttle, can be nonchalantly straightened out without a single gasp from rear-seat passengers.
The twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 is a fire-breathing monster, not only putting down 500 hp, but also delivering up to 568 lb/ft of torque during launch control situations where you and your three passengers feel the urge to test the time-space continuum. Under normal conditions, the Panamera Turbo still puts down a remarkable 516 lb/ft of torque. Equally remarkable is the Panamera Turbo’s equity between outright brutal power and fuel efficiency, attaining up to 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
The 2011 Porsche Panamera Turbo represents a balancing act of luxury, refinement, performance, efficiency and practicality that no other manufacturer has yet to achieve. It’s a machine that has garnered a lot of attention from the press and Porsche enthusiasts, and for good reason. After all, what other five-door car can run the Nürburgring test track with four passengers – each with their own climate controls, reading lights and LCD monitors – faster than many two-seat sportscars with only the driver?