The first generation Panamera was widely criticised for its exterior design, with many stating that despite the fact that it was quite easily identifiable as being from the Stuttgart-based marque, it still lacked the desirability of a 911, Boxster and Cayman.
Now though, we’ve seen a Panamera that is reborn and ready to take on the executive segment. From an exterior perspective, it really does look like an enlarged 911 with the brand’s design DNA more evident than ever before. My test unit also benefitted from the inclusion of 20-inch wheels lifted from the Turbo model, complete with centre caps that feature the brand’s crest in the traditional colours.
The exterior of the press unit was also illuminated by the inclusion of the optional LED headlights complete with Matrix Beam and the Dynamic Light System Plus. In very basic terms, this system provides phenomenal lighting, even in the poorest of conditions, while also ensuring that fellow motorists are not blinded by the beam.
Moving to the rear, there’s the impressive active spoiler which can be placed either up or down via the infotainment system. The sports exhaust, aside from its obvious aural benefits, also adds brushed aluminium tips.
Despite the fact that Porsche are known for high quality interiors, the ergonomics haven’t always found favour with the general public with many agreeing that a cockpit festooned with buttons isn’t always ideal.
The Panamera remedies this to an extent with many of the buttons in the centre console being replaced by touch-sensitive pads that now blend into the console. In addition, there is also a rather massive 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display on which all media and vehicle functions can be adjusted.
There is even a screen for rear passengers to adjust the climate control functions and media settings. Combine the latest generation setup with the multi-function steering wheel, and some time using the system and it becomes quite intuitive. The quality, refinement and general GT attributes that the Panamera has been engineered with are commendable with very little road noise coming into the cabin.
I do however think that the optional air suspension fitted to the test unit made all the difference in terms of ride quality. The system allows for a soft ride when the road is less than satisfactory, and for a more firm and sporty setup when you’re looking to push on a bit.
No Porsche is worthy of its badge unless the performance offered is impressive. Under the bonnet of the 4S is a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 which produces 324kW/550Nm.
That’s quite a bit of power but the 1870kg kerb weight needs to be factored in too. Despite its mass, the Panamera provides one of the most violent and satisfying 0-100km/h experiences you’re likely to come across.
My test unit was fitted with the Sports Chrono package which is far more than just a clock mounted to the top of the dashboard along with track driving data. The package adds another setting to the drive mode, making the engine, gearbox and throttle response more aggressive.
With this fitted, the 4S gets to 100km/h from standstill in just 4.2 seconds. The eight-speed PDK gearbox provides seamless shifting and is a pleasure to use, although it seems quite hesitant to gear down when pushing on, but as I discovered, the car’s torque means that gearing down isn’t really necessary.
The Panamera is an executive’s dream drive that he/she can also take to the track if the mood had to strike. If you combine the performance with the cocooning nature of the driving experience, you’re suddenly quite oblivious as to how fast you’re travelling.
The Panamera is a product that’s difficult to fault. It looks better than the previous generation, has up-to-date technology that competes with key rivals, is comparably priced and is still competent without a list of optional extras.
Base price (with a three-year/90 000km DrivePlan)
R1 588 000
Price as tested
R2 019 990