The practical Porsche: 2010 Panamera Turbo
BY Alex Taylor III
A new Porsche is a big deal, and an all-new Porsche — especially one with four doors and a hatchback — is practically an historic event.
So I invited three car-savvy acquaintances — a pair of BMW owners and the proud possessor of an Audi S4 — to help me evaluate the Panamera Turbo.
They loved the car. But they wondered, as did I, what you do with a 4,300-pound vehicle that purportedly has a top speed of 188 miles per hour and carries a sticker price of $145,000?
Commuting between Munich and Stuttgart on the speed-limitless autobahn is one thing; dodging state troopers on the Taconic Parkway in New York is quite another.
At least we demonstrated the practicality of the Panamera. This is an unfussy car you can drive every day, as long as you can find a place to safely park it.
The car seats four adults comfortably, as advertised. All-wheel-drive means it doesn’t have to sit in the garage on snowy days. And aside from the ignition switch in its traditional spot on the left side of the steering wheel, the controls are straight-forward and glitch-free. My three German car-owners felt right at home.
From the curb, the Panamera appears a bit awkward. Style is subjective, but the front end looked uncomfortably reminiscent of sportier Porsches and the flanks excessively busy. The fast-back rear end, however, is refined and sophisticated — reminiscent of Jaguar’s XK-E coupes.
The one surprise is the size of the Panamera. It is longer and wider than a Mercedes CLS — probably its closest competitor — so care is needed in tight spaces, and the backup camera comes in handy when parking.
All that mass becomes apparent on the highway, where the Panamera feels quiet, solid, and very, very fast but in no sense like a sports car. It will get you where you want to go, but without the buzz you feel in, say, a 911convertible.
From the driver’s seat, you feel a sense of power. The Panamera turns heads and responds to every directional input. One driver commented on the fast tip-in of the accelerator that made the Panamera feel even quicker; another reflected on the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can pass anything at almost any time.
Porsche plans to make 20,000 Panameras annually, with one third of them making their way to the U.S. Exactly how customers react at a time when the economy is still wobbly and trophy possessions are allegedly out of favor will be interesting to watch.
As for my test-drive trio, they all applauded Porsche for its achievement but were happy to return to the lesser technical and financial challenges of their respective vehicles. Cohabitating with a Panamera requires a bigger commitment than they were ready to make.