Porsche Panamera review
The Porsche Panamera is hugely impressive to drive fast and has a lovely cabin, but it feels very wide on UK roads.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Porsche Panamera
The Porsche Panamera saloon is as close as you can get to a family-friendly Porsche 911. It drives like a sports car and goes like one too, but has a spacious, luxurious interior with more than enough room for four people and their luggage.
But other manufacturers have attempted this recipe, too. Everything from the Audi A7, BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes CLS are there to steal your signature, providing a similar mix of space and pace.
The Porsche Panamera is more fun to drive 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 suspension helps you to make the most of that grip and is fitted across the range. In its sportiest setting, body lean in corners is all but eliminated, but it can also be softened to take the edge off bumpy roads. Having said that, the Panamera always feels on the firm side versus its alternatives – particularly the Mercedes.
The Panamera’s eight-speed gearbox is also standard. Its quick changes help the Panamera’s engines stay at their most responsive during sporty driving; 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.
Optional rear-wheel steering helps the Porsche turn into corners like a smaller car and optional powerful carbon-ceramic brakes mean it stops harder. However, both are unnecessary, because the Panamera is close enough to perfect as it is. That said, go for the Turbo S model and you’ll get both features as standard.
No executive car feels as sporty to drive as a Panamera, but there are more comfortable alternatives over bumps if that's more your thing
There are no diesel Panameras, so the engine range starts with a 330hp 2.9-litre petrol and gets progressively quicker until you reach the top-of-the-range 4.0 V8 Turbo S, which fires from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and tops out at 196mph. Wow.
But the real wow factor is that you can do it with the kids in tow. The Panamera has a healthy 495-litre boot (the hybrid’s is 403 litres), 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. You can add a middle rear seat as an option, but it’s not much use for adults.
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 even more special. All models come with a super-sharp 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which is bright, responsive and easy to use.
There’s a price to pay for the Panamera’s exclusivity, though, and that’s a long and expensive options list, plus some safety options that would come fitted as standard in more mainstream models. Adaptive cruise, for instance, which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to preselected cruising speed, is expensive to add, while lane-change assist that warns of cars in your blind spots is extra too.
Still, if it’s luxurious space mixed with a sports car drive you’re after, few do it better than the Porsche Panamera. Just go easy on the options list and bear in mind that you’ll need to go elsewhere if you want a diesel.
Click on the video below to watch our review of the practical Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. Then, check out our lease deals here.
Passengers will find they’re well catered for as far as headroom and legroom are concerned, but you’ll have to pay extra if you want your Porsche Panamera to come with five seats
As standard, the Porsche Panamera is a four-seater, and a very roomy one at that. There’s loads of space up front, and the two occupants of the rear seats should feel very good about life indeed, because they’ll have loads of legroom and headroom.
You can also pay an extra £600 to turn your Panamera into a five-seater, but the centre rear passenger will feel like they’ve got the short straw because the middle seat is narrow and raised.
This also robs you of the ability to upgrade the two individual rear seats to the multi-adjustable electric items that turn the Panamera into the world’s sportiest limousine.
The Panamera isn’t bad at all for storage space, because the front door pockets are best described as “massive”, and the glovebox is a decent size. There’s also a central storage cubby by the driver’s elbow.
There are also a couple of cupholders in the armrest between the front seats, which seem perfectly placed for you to knock over your drink with your arm.
In the back, the door pockets are a good size (but unworthy of the “massive” title), and there’s a central armrest with cupholders and a usable storage box.
Most Panameras have a decent 495-litre load area, which allows you to stash seven carry-on cases in there. However, if you choose the e-hybrid version, this shrinks by 92 litres, because Porsche has had to place the batteries for the hybrid system below the boot floor.
Oddly, the Turbo S model offers 467 litres. This is likely down to the fact it comes with an uprated Bose sound system as standard, and this takes up more boot space.
The seats fold down completely flat, which is good, but you’ll need to open the rear doors to get to the release levers, and the rear seat also has a ski hatch for when you need to carry, well, skis.
Still, life is made easier by the fact that every Panamera has an electrically-powered tailgate.
Despite it’s limo-like size, the Porsche Panamera is incredibly nimble on a good road. Fast, too. Its sportier suspension does mean it’s a bit firm in town, though
If you fancy the economy of a diesel, well move along – there’s nothing for you here. That’s because there are no diesel Panameras.
The engine range starts with a 330hp 2.9-litre V6 petrol and gets progressively quicker until you reach the top-of-the-range 4.0 V8 Turbo S, which fires the Panamera from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and tops out at 196mph. Basically, it launches like it’s been hit from behind by something very large moving very quickly indeed. Something like the Millennium Falcon, for example.
The Porsche Panamera is designed to blend limousine space with sports car responses, so the suspension is quite firm. You notice this especially in town, where it tends to pick up on small bumps and transmit them to your backside.
In town, the car feels very wide indeed, which can make it seem cumbersome, despite the quick steering.
It’s far more at home on the motorway, where its size is less of an issue. Indeed, the faster you go, the more at home the Panamera feels (up to 70mph, obviously), although there’s rather a lot of road noise at quicker speeds.
The sheer power means overtaking is never an issue, either on the motorway or on a backroad. And it’s on backroads where the Panamera really shines: it grips incredibly tenaciously and changes direction like a cornered politician; and the steering is beautifully responsive.
The Porsche Panamera’s interior is as sporty as it is luxurious. It’s a wonderful, high-tech place to spend time, but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you want Android Auto connectivity
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.