A clever revamping of Porsche’s Panamera has produced a car with much more style, more panache and better performance.
From the front the all-new model now looks more like the Porsche 911 than ever before but is still a generous four-seater.
But from whichever way you measure it the Panamera is a big car. It’s longer, wider and taller than the previous model although visually is less bulky, thanks in part to the lower roof line over the rear body.
The larger dimensions allow passengers space to stretch out and at the same time offer them a generous luggage area beneath the rear tailgate.
Porsche says the car is a four-door coupé rather than a saloon, an effect achieved by the dramatically sloping roofline which gives the car superb lines from whichever angle you look at it.
Step inside and the interior is as dramatic as the exterior. Deeply sculptured sports seats in the front and rear immediately catch the eye along with the dramatically high set centre console.
Initially the dashboard and centre console are a mass of gloss black with few switches visible, as in the second generation Panamera classic hard keys have been dramatically reduced, replaced by touch sensitive panels only visible when the car is running. Turn the starter and everything from the virtual speedometer to the touch panel switches for the electrically-heated seats burst into life.
But while the Porsche Advanced Cockpit has a futuristic look to it it’s nice to see that the German luxury car maker has retained many of its traditional features like the large centrally set tachometer – combining a digital speed readout – immediately in the driver’s line of sight.
Then there’s the sports exhaust system which can be switched to a sound optimised mode, with a tap on the large central display screen, to ensure that everyone not only sees you are driving a Porsche but hears you coming as well.
This new hi-tech car has enough kit on it to keep your average gadget geek amused for weeks. There’s the facility to check g-force as well as a night vision feature which uses a thermal imaging camera to detect people and large animals ahead of you.
The chances are you will see them anyway, however, thanks to some of the best headlights in the business. The LED matrix headlights briefly illuminate people beyond the dipped range so you can react quicker.
This is also a car which gives the driver plenty of choice. You can set both the driving mode and chassis to normal, sport and sport+ to suite your mood for the day.
In normal the Panamera is a very civilised car but always with that 440bhp power in reserve.
Switch to sport or sport+ and the suspension firms up and the car holds onto each gear much longer so there is instant bullet-like acceleration when you dip your right foot.
But because this is a four-wheel-drive car – not to mention four-wheel-steer – there’s no wheelspin, all the power is put to road and it just goes – big time.
The Panamera is ideal for the driver who hankers after a sportscar but needs the flexibility of four seats and a big boot.
And in that respect they don’t come much better.
Model: Porsche Panamera 4S
Mechanical: 2,894cc, 440 bhp six cylinder petrol engine driving all wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 179 mph
0-62mph: 4.4 secs
Combined mpg: 34.9
CO2 emissions: 184 g/km
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited mileage