What's the used Porsche Panamera hatchback like?
After a period in which it produced both the familiar - the iconic 911 - and the iconoclastic - the Cayenne - alongside its highly regarded sports cars, the Boxster and the Cayman, it seemed for a time as if Porsche was capable of anything. Then, in 2010, it launched the Panamera, a five-door luxury saloon/hatchback with all the speed and some of the prowess of those smaller cars. It was well received and sold in pleasing numbers, although it attracted some criticism for its looks, which had meant to portray a four-door stretched 911 but ended up looking more like an extremely large and ungainly slug.
So it was inevitable that Porsche, renowned for its conservative styling updates, should treat the Panamera to a mild tweak in its design when it launched the second generation car in 2016. The new car is longer and wider, with a greater distance between the front and rear axles, and the rear roofline is a little lower, too, the better to attract the eye. And better it does look, despite the moderate updates. You can also choose an Executive version, which adds 15cm between the front and rear axles, for increased interior space, and a shooting-brake estate car version called the Sport Turismo, which was introduced in 2017.
Under the bonnet the Panamera was also treated to a whole new range of engines, ranging from an entry-level 330bhp 3.0-litre petrol, through to a 434bhp 2.9-litre petrol, a 550bhp 4.0-litre V8 petrol, a 2.9-litre V6 hybrid and, initially at least, even a 4S diesel.
Trims are dependent on engine choice, although all Panameras receive plenty of standard equipment, including climate control, a 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system, a DAB radio, sat-nav, leather seats, cruise control and LED headlights.
It’s fair to say that even those who found it easy to criticise the original Panamera’s looks always praised the way it went, even if a car of this size and weight was never going to be as agile as some of the other cars that wear the Porsche badge. This Panamera, with a whole host of chassis updates, actually behaves very nicely on the road. With nearly any engine, the performance is prodigious. The petrols are all free-revving and full of poke, while the diesel model has a huge chunk of mid-range power that proves really useful on the road. The Turbo models are even capable of keeping up with most supercars, with outstanding 0 to 62mph acceleration times of 3.5 seconds. All have top speeds way in excess of those you’d be allowed to use on the road, or even want to use on a track, and power is transmitted to either the rear wheels or all four via a brilliant automatic gearbox.
Approach a corner and this large beast is almost as impressive. The steering is heavy but direct and responsive, and the grip seems endless. It’s wonderfully rewarding to drive, with excellent body control and balance. There’s even an optional four-wheel steering system that improves agility.
You might think the payback for this is a very firm ride, but you’d be wrong. It’s firm, admittedly, but always well controlled, and never uncomfortable. On the optional air suspension it’s at its best, but don’t worry if the car you find has the standard set-up, because that’s almost as good.
Inside is a high-quality interior with an excellent driving position, with an electrically operated steering wheel and seat. Visibility to the front is good, but it can be a little restricted to the rear by the car’s sloping rear pillars. Porsche has moved many of the controls to a touch-sensitive panel, with other functions controlled via a 12.3in touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. At first glance it looks good, but it can prove problematic to use on the move. The infotainment system is more impressive with large, easy to hit icons that you can hit accurately even on the move. The screen has a high resolution and is free from lag, too. It’s one of the best touchscreens out there, if not quite as user friendly as BMW’s iDrive rotary dial controlled system.
Space-wise, there’s plenty up front, while it’s strictly two people only in the rear, although they’ll both enjoy a good amount of head and leg room, even seated behind a taller driver.
There’s a practical hatch at the back, and a good-sized boot. Some luxury car rivals offer more space back there, but few can match its practicality.