2017 Porsche Panamera Review

Panamera

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2017 Porsche Panamera Overview

When the Porsche Panamera debuted in 2009, it helped pioneer the concept of the 4-door luxury sport sedan. Looking much like a stretched 911 with its tapered roofline and rear hatchback, the Panamera certainly turned heads and generated buzz in its early years. While some criticized its design, the Panamera proved to be a hit with buyers, who liked the way it combined the performance and handling of a sporty coupe with the comfort and roominess of a luxury sedan—all wrapped in a low-slung fastback design.

The Panamera received a few new trims in the intervening years, including the plug-in hybrid S E-Hybrid in 2011, and a minor facelift in 2013. However, it has remained essentially unchanged since its introduction, making it high time for an overhaul.

For 2017, Porsche unveils an all-new second-generation Panamera, giving the groundbreaking vehicle a complete rebuild from the wheels up. The automaker still compares the Panamera's coupe-like lines to those of the 911, although the Panamera has smoothed out some of its predecessor's more bulbous design elements for a "faster" look, to use Porsche's own terminology. Other updates include a revised driver-centric smart cockpit, a pair of upgraded twin-turbo engines, a new 8-speed transmission, and an improved suspension and chassis. In many ways, the 2017 Panamera is a totally new car—but it's also the refinement of a sports car that artfully combines form and function with luxury and performance.

Longer and slightly wider than its predecessor, the new Panamera displays a sleek, low profile that stretches 1.3 extra inches to 198.8 inches. The wheelbase expands by 1.2 inches to 116.1 inches by pushing the front wheels forward slightly, resulting in a shorter front overhang. In addition, both the width and height are increased by 0.2 inches, while the rear roofline drops 0.8 inches over the second-row seats.

As a result, the Panamera looks more poised and balanced, though the rear end still seems a tad heavy. But the nose, with its narrow black-slatted grille, lower air intakes, and swept-back LED headlights, certainly retains its 911 inspiration. New side windows enhance the coupe look, while the rear features a spoiler, 3D LED taillights, and reshaped brake lights.

Aluminum now makes up 45 percent of the Panamera's body and chassis, and the outer-body shell is built completely of aluminum, which helps keep weight down. Porsche has tuned the chassis to provide a balance of comfort, stability, and performance, but drivers can choose from Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes to adjust the braking, steering, and ride themselves via the electronic damping control system. Buyers can pick from a number of cutting-edge chassis and suspension options, including rear-axle steering, an electronic 4D chassis control system, and an adaptive air suspension with new 3-chamber technology for additional air capacity.

The 2017 Panamera comes in a wide range of trims, which will roll out in stages. First out of the gate will be the all-wheel-drive (AWD) 4S and Turbo, followed by a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) entry-level trim, simply called the Panamera Sedan, and an AWD version of the same trim, the Panamera 4. An AWD hybrid version will be available, equipped with a gas engine and an electric motor and appropriately named the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. Additionally, Porsche will offer several stretched Executive versions, bringing the total trim count to nine, that ride an AWD platform with a 5.9-inch-longer wheelbase.

A new twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 engine producing 440 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque powers the Panamera 4S, while the Turbo trim receives a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that pumps out an impressive 550 hp and 568 lb-ft. The 4S can make the jaunt to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and the Turbo in 3.6 seconds, and an optional Sport Chrono package will shave about 0.2 seconds off both of those times. Porsche limits the top speed of the 4S and the Turbo to 180 and 190 mph, respectively. Fuel-economy numbers for the new engines have not yet been released, though the automaker says its new 8-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission is 16 percent more fuel efficient than the previous version.

The base RWD Panamera, Panamera 4, and Panamera 4 Executive all receive the same new turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine as the 4S, though in these trims its output is lowered to 330 hp and 331 lb-ft. For the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and 4 E-Hybrid Executive, the 2.9-liter V6 is paired with a 100-kilowatt electric motor, which boosts overall horsepower to 462 and torque to 516 lb-ft. Porsche also offers Executive versions of the 4S and the Turbo.

The Panamera rides on 19-inch wheels (except for the Turbo S trim, which gets standard 20-inchers), and wheel sizes up to 21 inches are available. In addition to the standard safety and performance features, owners can choose from a wide range of upgrades, including a sport exhaust system, park assist with a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and traffic-jam assist.

For 2017, the Panamera’s restyled 4-passenger cabin goes high-tech, while continuing to balance comfort and sportiness. Porsche reshaped the front and center consoles for an ascending effect, simplifying them with touch-sensitive buttons and placing all controls within easy reach of the driver. A new high-resolution 12-inch touchscreen occupies the center dash and provides navigation, real-time traffic information, a variety of apps, and other infotainment functions via the new Porsche Communication Management and Connect Plus systems. In addition, the automaker has flattened and widened the dash and added two new 7-inch single-display screens on either side of the centralized analog tachometer, with a virtual speedometer on the left screen and car information such as fuel and trip details on the right. A multifunction sports steering wheel is also standard.

In the Panamera 4S and Turbo trims, the front seats are heated and bolstered for support and comfort, while the rear is separated into 2 individual seats. The 4S and Turbo trims get leather upholstery, and the Turbo comes with 14-way power-adjustable front seats with memory for driver’s settings. Porsche also offers ventilation, a massage function, and extra power adjustments as options for both front and rear seats. Buyers can personalize their Panamera even further with a wide range interior options, including various veneers and trim colors, ambient lighting, 4-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and adaptive sport seats.

These upgrades certainly take the 2017 Panamera to a new level of comfort, style, and technology, marking it as a high-end daily driver ready for cutting loose on the weekends or an extended road trip. It provides a viable alternative to the standard luxury sedan or sport coupe as it straddles the line between both worlds. Early reviews are positive, and as Porsche continues to roll out new Panamera trims, this sport sedan should become increasingly competitive against high-end challengers like the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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