The car: Porsche Panamera GTS
From: $318,300 plus on-road and dealer costs
Vitals: 4.8-litre V8, 316kW/520Nm, 7-sp dual-clutch auto, AWD
What is it?
No, it’s not a heavily pregnant version of the 911. It’s Porsche’s take on the four-door “coupe” grand tourer concept pioneered by the Mercedes CLS and Maserati Quattroporte.
What does it say about me?
That you are seriously well off and like to share the love around by buying a sports car that other people can sit in without dislocating their hips or cricking their necks. It also says that aesthetics aren’t top of mind when you’re shopping for a new car. There are very few people who think the Panamera is an automotive work of art.
What doesn’t it say about me?
That you worry about your fuel bill, the environment or your depreciation costs. Even if this thing held its value better than most, you’d still drop more than $100,000 in three years.
Who else is driving one?
Tycoons, celebrities, rappers and probably the odd colourful racing identity. Past celebrity owners include Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stallone, Gwen Stefani and Lindsay Lohan. The NSW Police Force also has one, but that was donated.
What colours does it come in?
Buyers are spoilt for choice with 17 exterior colours, although most of them are dark and moody. They do have suitably upmarket names, though, for when the neighbours ask. There’s topaz brown, ruby red, mahogany, amethyst and the most pretentious of all, yachting blue.
If it were a celebrity, who would it be?
Beyonce – bootylicious.
Why would I buy it?
You’ve grown out of a 911 – or at least your back has – but you can’t reconcile yourself to the idea of becoming a Cayenne owner.
Will it let me down?
Have you ever watched a 24-hour race? The Porsches are the ones still going when the more exotic supercars are steaming piles of you-know-what in pit lane.
Does it cost too much?
When you think that $100,000 of the sticker price is made up of luxury car tax and on-road costs alone, value isn’t a strong point.
Is it safe?
It’s bloody quick, so it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But the brakes are awesome, the electronic driving aids are clever and there are 10 airbags if you get yourself into real trouble. There’s even a bonnet that pops up on impact to protect any common folk you may run into.
Will it get me noticed?
It will. Probably not the best car to take to an appointment with the Tax Office.
Any gadgets I can brag about?
Plenty. There are more acronyms than a parliamentary standing committee report. Some of the sexier ones include PASM (adaptive suspension), PDCC (dynamic chassis control) and PTV (torque vectoring). But the best toy is the optional Sports Chrono package that allows you to choose “sport” and “sport plus” settings at the press of a button. The buttons improve throttle response, speed up gearshifts, sharpen the steering, stiffen the suspension, back off the stability control intervention and make the exhaust note angrier. And if you’re doing a track day, there’s launch control and a lap timing function with memory.
How’s the cabin ambience?
Everything you’d expect from a car with this size price-tag. Beautiful steering wheel, body-hugging seats, leather and suede-clad seats, frosted chrome highlights and more buttons and readouts than some passenger jet cockpits.
Does it go?
Depends if you call 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds fast. We do, and we also think that 3.2 seconds from 80km/h to 120km/h is fairly handy too.
Does it like corners?
It prefers long sweepers to tight switchbacks. It’s impressively agile for a car that is almost five metres long and weighs close to two tonnes, but ultimately it is five metres long and you can’t change the laws of physics.
What about bumps?
The Panamera deals with bumps and corrugations in the road pretty damn well considering its low profile tyres and bum-dragging ride height.
What about service stations?
Around town it’s pretty thirsty unless you’re very careful with the throttle. The official figure is 16 litres per 100km, which at today’s pump prices will cost you about $25 for every 100km you travel. But it will use a lot more than that if you push it. On the open road, its ample torque and power reserves mean it’s surprisingly economical, and the big 100-litre tank gives it decent touring range.
Would you buy one?
Alas, a hypothetical question, but the answer would be no. I’d go for something that was either a genuine sports car (such as a 911) or something prettier (such as a Maserati Quattroporte).
What else should I consider?
The Quattroporte, BMW’s new Gran Coupe, a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG or a Jaguar XJ.
How can one describe the appearance of the Panamera models?
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