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2010 Porsche Panamera Review

This review was written when the 2010 Porsche Panamera was new.

Perhaps the world’s most uncompromising sedan, the all-new Porsche Panamera combines breathtaking performance with indulgent accommodations for four adults.  Some Porsche purists may detest the car’s unusual appearance, and few can afford it (a look at the pricing list for options would make Warren Buffet gasp), but the automotive press agrees that the car is simply an epic achievement.

The Porsche Panamera can coddle four adults in opulent surroundings at 170 mph, and holds its own with some six-figure sports cars on a winding mountain road.  It can carry as much cargo as some full-size SUVs, but in turbocharged form, goes from zero-to-sixty faster than a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. It offers four sumptuous seats, a stereo system that’s among the best offered anywhere, and available four-zone climate control, and 500 horsepower.

Auto writers have attempted to compare it to specially-tuned sport sedans like the BMW M5, exotic cars like the Maserati Quattroporte, and super-luxury cruisers like the BMW 7-Series – but every comparison falls flat.

Yet, the very idea of the car upsets some lifelong Porsche fanatics. They call it blasphemous.

Porsche is world-famous, after all, four small, light, two-door, rear-engine sports cars like the 911.  The iconic Porsche has a sparse interior, with little to distract from its mission of raw performance. 

The Panamera, on the other hand is a full-size luxury sedan.  It weighs nearly 4,000 pounds, has four doors, and carries its big V8 engine up front. Its interior is sumptuous, with every modern technological amenity and acres of smooth, soft leather. 

It’s also unusual looking.  With a long hood and bulbous rear hatch, it looks a little like a stretched 911.

Those traits have caused a split in critical reception of this car.  Some reviewers won’t accept it because it doesn’t fit their notion of a Porsche, no matter how extraordinary it might be.  The Los Angeles Times writes, “"The damned car is magnificent. But it is not made of the same charmed isotopes as the 911, and therefore not a Porsche. Sorry.”  Others dismiss the old notion of what a Porsche should be as soon as they get a little time behind the wheel of this one.  Edmunds writes, “Sure it has unique eccentricities - as every Porsche should - but it also makes a unique statement about the way that luxury transportation and serious high-performance potential can be mixed together in one car. And it's this unique spirit of innovation that makes the Panamera a true Porsche.”

Those who don’t reject the car because of its unusual layout for a Porsche might still want to look elsewhere.  The Panamera isn’t cheap, and the available options list includes some simply outrageous prices (try a brake upgrade that pushes $9,000, for instance, or certain shades of paint that cost $3,000 more than others).  But if the price and the look don’t bother you, there may not be a more uncompromising sedan in the world today.

There may be, however, if you wait a little while.  Aston Martin will introduce its own Panamera-fighter, the Rapide, for the 2011 model year.  Lamborghini has also show a design study for a four-door sport sedan, the Estoque, at several auto shows, but officials at the Italian automaker say they haven’t decided whether or not to build that car yet.  If the Panamera succeeds in the market place, that may push them into it.

The Panamera is sold as the rear-wheel-drive Panamera S, the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4S, and the more powerful AWD Panamera Turbo.  A lengthy option list is available for any of the three.

  •  +“The Panamera is a truly epic automobile… big, fast, and comfortable; a genuine four passenger Gran Turismo capable of loafing across continents in giant 130 mph bounds, leaving you relaxed and refreshed at the end of the day at the wheel.” -- Motor Trend
  • “If the styling appeals and the price doesn't matter, there's not much to dislike.” -- USA Today
  • “For the performance-minded driver, the Panamera is an irresistible alternative to the established sedans in the ultraluxury segment.” -- Cars.com
  • “A four-passenger sport sedan that is spacious and comfortable enough to be the primary vehicle.” -- Autoblog
Review Last Updated: 1/11/10

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