2013 Porsche Panamera review
More significant changes have happened under the skin. There are now 10 models in the line-up, starting with the only diesel engine – a slightly cleaner version of the familiar 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel that will still be the bulk seller.
Petrol engines range from a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6, through a new V6 biturbo that now powers the 'S' models, while the GTS gets a naturally aspirated version of the 4.8-litre V8 in the Turbo.
Both the 3.6 V6 and the 'S' models are available with rear- or four-wheel drive, while the diesel is rear-drive only. A new, efficient S E-Hybrid model, and long-wheelbase versions of the 4S and Turbo also join the range.
Porsche has done away with the slow-selling manual gearbox in the Panamera, and all models are now automatic as standard, with the majority using the company’s seven-speed PDK automatic transmission.
What’s the 2013 Porsche Panamera like to drive?
We drove the 4S and the Turbo models, and in both there is a directness to the controls, with silky-feeling steering that some might find a touch too light in normal use but that gives a satisfying bite in hard cornering.
The 4S gets a new Porsche-developed 3.0 V6 biturbo engine. It delivers rapid, if not searing pace, with power arriving in a predictable build-up. You rarely find a spot in the rev range where the engine doesn’t respond strongly, although it sounds harsh and unpleasant when you push it hard.
It lacks a little of the aural delight of the old V8, but it’s a smooth and enjoyable engine that suits the Panamera perfectly; impressive given that it’s 20bhp more powerful, yet 18% more efficient than the V8 it replaces.
The seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox isn’t flawless. It’s changes gear smoothly most of the time, but sometimes hops around unnecessarily between gears.
The Panamera Turbo is predictably banzai. With two turbochargers strapped to the 4.8-litre V8, and the same seven-speed PDK 'box, it can sling you from a standstill to 62mph in 4.1 seconds – faster than a V8-powered Audi R8.
Having said that, its size and luxury intent means you’re well isolated from the speed you can carry, so while it’s fun to have such outrageous potency to hand, you always feel calm and relaxed.
The handling has the same blend of sharp response tinged with a vague remoteness. The 4S, which rides on steel springs, is actually more engaging than the heavier-feeling Turbo, which has air suspension.
The 4S turns into corners sharply, responds quickly to steering inputs and is easy to drive fluidly – even through tight bends and over awkward cambers.
The Turbo is only a little less successful, falling slightly short of the smaller-engined car’s precision.
In either car, you’re always aware of the Panamera’s sheer size and mass. It feels most at home on wide, fast roads where you can make the most of its impressive refinement and touring ability.
What’s the 2013 Porsche Panamera like inside?
The interior of the Panamera remains mostly unchanged, which is no bad thing unless you're expecting outstanding practicality.
The rear cabin accommodates only two people, albeit in comfortable, individually adjustable seats. The boot is big enough for daily use, although it's actually not much bigger than a VW Golf's and is an awkward shape.
The Panamera is clearly a luxurious car, though, and it shows. You feel pampered behind the wheel, with the centre console bisecting the cabin and housing most of the switchgear, and a standard colour touch-screen dominating the shallow, upright dashboard.
The dials are simple but classy and easy to read, while another colour readout tucked into the binnacle shows full nav instructions and a variety of other useful information.
All the cabin materials feel appropriately sumptuous, and although the cabin is a bit button-heavy in areas, most of the controls are easy to get the hang of.
You get more standard equipment than before, too. The list now includes a multi-function steering wheel, powered tailgate and xenon headlights, as well as all the essentials including sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, USB socket, part-leather interior and climate control.
Should I buy one?
This Panamera has to compete with everything from high-end versions of the BMW 5 Series right the way through to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, plus all the crossbreeds in the middle, including the Audi A7, Merc CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. Many of these rivals are more practical, cheaper and in many ways better all-round buys.
Having said that, the Panamera has a lot going for it. It’s a great cruiser, does a better job of pretending to be a sports car than most other posh GT cars, has one of the nicest interiors you’ll find anywhere, and wears a properly desirable badge.
Perfect it isn’t, but if you like the idea of the Panamera, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
What Car? says...
BMW 640d Gran Coupe
Specification Panamera Diesel
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Price from £62,922
Torque 406lb ft
0-62mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed 151mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg
Specification Panamera V6
Engine size 3.6 V6 petrol
Price from £63,893
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 6.3 seconds
Top speed 160mph
Fuel economy 33.6mpg
Specification Panamera V6 4S
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol
Price from £85,721
Torque 384lb ft
0-60mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 177mph
Fuel economy 31.7mpg
Specification Panamera Turbo
Engine size 4.8-litre V8 twin-turbo
Price from £107,903
Torque 516lb ft
0-62mph 4.1 seconds
Top speed 189mph
Fuel economy 27.7mpg
By Vicky Parrott