I'm having a hard time deciding what a like better: this, the Maseratti Quattroporte or the Mercedes CLS. They are all gorgeous cars!
Comfort and style in a new package
Patricia Cancilla, National Post
Published: Friday, November 28, 2008
Porsche's new Panamera Gran Turismo may be reminiscent of the automaker's sports cars, but it is "much more than a blown-up 911," says Michael Mauer, chief designer at Porsche.
Mauer was speaking to a select group of automotive editors, including Yours Truly, the only Canadian invited, who got a sneak peek at the Panamera last month in the U.S.
Mauer calls the Panamera a "space coupe" -- offering the utility and versatility of a station wagon with the performance of a sports car and comfort of a gran turismo.
Although we did not get to drive the new Panamera, we did have a chance to sit behind the wheel. I may not be able to speak to its performance, but I can say that the spacious four-door is the ultimate in luxurious comfort. The creamy, soft leather seats envelope you as you ensconce yourself in them. The Panamera is certainly more luxurious than any sports car Porsche has ever produced, with beautiful wood and aluminum details in the cabin, heated and cooled seats for the driver and all three passengers and a top sound system among many other luxury features.
Measuring 4,970 millimetres overall, the Panamera is 1,931 mm wide and 1,418 high, making it wider and lower than comparable four-doors, says Porsche. At a petite five-foot-four, I could live in the Panamera. But how does a taller person fare?
Just fine, says the very tall president of Porsche, Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking. He says he made sure he could get in and out of the vehicle easily during testing of the design. Wiedeking jokes that he was "forced to drive" competitors such as the BMW 7 Series and Maserati Quattroporte to see what makes them work or not work and try to solve any similar design issues in the Panamera. In a dramatic demonstration of just how expansive the four-door's interior is, an amazon of a model towering over the tallest of the Porsche executives inher four-inchheels emerged from the back seat to the oohs and aahs of the tiny group of journalists.
From the outside, the Panamera's looks are unmistakably Porsche, with its visible exhaust tips and V-shaped seams along the hood and rear window tapering in the rear. The automaker says it wanted to make the four-door look as sporty as the 911 -- it has succeeded.
The demonstration of the Panamera Turbo spoiler unfolding to the side (at speeds above 300 kilometres an hour) elicited more oohs and aahs.
Editors invited to the sneak peak honoured Porsche's wishes not to photograph the Panamera, as the automaker did not officially release photos to the general media until this week.
The Panamera features new V6 and V8 engines with outputs of between 300 and 500 horsepower, along with turbocharged versions featuring direct fuel injection. There's a choice of either a manual six-speed transmission or Porsche's seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK), or double-clutch gearbox.
In addition to the rear-wheel-drive models, the top-line Panamera comes standard with all-wheel drive. AWD is also available on other models as an option.
Porsche also announced a hybrid version of the Panamera. The automaker says it will be a "full hybrid" with a fully electric motor and gas engine, which will combine to reduce fuel consumption by 28% over the non-hybrid Panamera.
The Panamera will make its world debut next spring in Shanghai and will be in dealerships in late summer.
The Panamera will be built at Porsche's Leipzig plant, while the engines will be produced at the automaker's main plant in Zuffenhausen.
Porsche plans to sell 20,000 Panameras a year. One-third of them are targeted for the North American market.
Pricing will be announced next spring.