Two years ago, many pundits predicted that Porsche would fall on its face with this full-size, four-door hatchback. Well, the verdict is in: the Panamera is the brand's best-selling car, beating out the 911 in all its iterations. The secret is that under its somewhat polarizing exterior, the Panamera is an excellent luxury car. The well-appointed cabin features four nicely sculpted, 911-style chairs, although it takes some flexibility to sit in the ones in back. Those rear seats fold down to open up 44 cubic feet of cargo space--more than three times what you'll find in a BMW 7-series. We're still not sure about Porsche's approach to telematics: more than fifty center-console buttons collectively do the work of one BMW-style controller. The Panamera is also fast, especially when you opt for one of its V-8 engines. We suggest the 550-hp, four-wheel-drive Turbo S model for keeping away those pesky 911 GT3s. On the more sober end of the spectrum, one can opt for the same V-6/electric hybrid powertrain offered in the Cayenne and enjoy 30 mpg on the highway. The Hybrid comes only with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic. All other variants can be had with four-wheel drive and use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. For all its capability and versatility, though, the Panamera does not offer anywhere near the driving involvement of its sports car brethren. The steering is accurate but numb, the brakes powerful but not very progressive. Still, it's hard to argue with a four-door luxury sedan that can hang with a Nissan GT-R in a drag race.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: Panamera, S, 4, 4S, S Hybrid, Turbo, Turbo S
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engines: 3.0L V-6/electric hybrid, 380 hp, 428 lb-ft
3.6L V-6, 300 hp, 295 lb-ft
4.8L V-8, 400 hp, 369 lb-ft
4.8L twin-turbo V-8, 500 hp, 516 lb-ft
Transmission: 7- or 8-speed automatic
Passenger volume: N/A
Cargo space: (rear seats up/down) 15.2-15.7/44.1-44.6
The Panamera receives only mild changes for 2012: an optional lane-departure warning system, different wheels, and coat hooks on the B-pillars.
Front, side, side curtain, and front knee air bags are standard, as are traction and stability control and ABS. Lane-departure warning is optional. The Panamera has a pedestrian safety system that raises the rear portion of the hood when its computers detect a collision.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 15-22 mpg city/23-30mpg highway
- About as fast as you can go with four doors
- Real utility
You Won't Like
- Not a looker
- Not as plush as some competitors
Porsche's biggest and best-selling vehicle.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi A8
- BMW 7-series
- Maserati Quattroporte
- Mercedes-Benz S-class