£68,783 - £146,615 Price range
30 - 113 MPG
The Porsche Panamera and Sport Turismo estate are as close as you can get to a family-friendly Porsche 911. They drive like sports cars and go like them too, but have spacious interiors with space for four people and their luggage.
The Panamera drives better than most other cars its size. It feels nimble in bends and the steering makes it easy to judge exactly how much grip you have to play with – which tends to be quite a lot because most models have four-wheel drive.
Adjustable dampers help make the most of that grip and are fitted across the range. In their sportiest setup body lean in corners is all but eliminated, but they can also be softened to take the edge off bumpy roads. Having said that, the Panamera always feels firm like a sports car.
The eight-speed gearbox is also standard (unless you buy the hybrid model). Its quick changes help the Panamera’s engine stay on the boil, but when you’re just cruising around it can change gear as smoothly as a Mercedes and there’s no annoying clutch pedal to operate in stop-start town driving.
The optional rear-wheel steering (£1,536) helps the Porsche turn into corners like a smaller car and powerful carbon ceramic brakes (£6,707) mean it stops even harder, but both are unnecessary because the Panamera is close enough to perfect as it is.
Even choosing the diesel doesn’t dampen the way it drives – but considering the Panamera’s diesel has 422hp and gets from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, that’s not really a surprise.
The standard Panamera’s engine range (the estate’s is more limited) starts with a 330hp 3.0-litre petrol and gets progressively quicker until you reach the top-of-the-range Turbo S Executive E-Hybrid, which fires from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and tops out at 193mph.
But the real wow factor is that you can do it with the kids and (if you go for the Sport Turismo) the dog in tow, too. The sporty estate has a healthy 520-litre boot but even the standard car has 500 litres, and both have room for four tall adults and a decent amount of smaller storage areas scattered around the cabin.
The interior feels as sporty as you’d expect from Porsche. All four seats are body-hugging jobs that hold you and your passengers snugly around bends, and a huge hump runs down the centre of the car that helps you feel cocooned. For that reason though, it’s a strict four-seater unless you go for the Sport Turismo version, which has a fairly narrow and hard middle rear seat which isn’t comfy for long journeys.
All the cabin materials feel as premium as anything you get in an Audi, BMW or Mercedes, but the low-set dashboard, and the Panamera’s unique design, make it feel more special than its German alternatives. All models come with a super-sharp 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which is easy to use on the move using a fixed control knob located between the front seats.
There’s a price to pay for the Panamera’s exclusivity, though, and that’s expensive options that would come fitted as standard in more mainstream models. Adaptive cruise, which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising speed, is a £1,787 option, and lane-change assist – that warns of cars in your blind spots – is another £617. Euro NCAP doesn’t test the Panamera for safety but adding both these options should limit the chances of you being involved in an accident.
Which leaves you to enjoy the Panamera’s excellent driving characteristics that make it one of the best-driving practical cars you can buy. If that sounds like the kind of ‘family’ car you want, then you’ll not be disappointed.