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Original MSRP: $89,800 - $132,600
MPG: 16 City / 24 Hwy
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2010 Porsche Panamera Performance

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

The Porsche Panamera may be the sportiest sedan ever built.  Reviewers rave about its otherworldly acceleration, crisp handling and powerful brakes.  Some say it can’t equal the athleticism of a sports car because of its size and weight.  But it outperforms every other four-door car on the market today. 

The Panamera, however, may have rivals soon.  Aston Martin is preparing to release its own super-sedan, the Rapide, for the 2011 model year.  Some reports say that Lamborghini may build its own four door, the Estoque, as well.  Until those arrive, the Panamera is peerless.

  • “Only the last BMW M5 we tested can match or come close to the Porsche's test numbers. This might give the impression that an M5 could keep up with the Panamera 4S on a mountain road. Well, it can't. And neither can any other four-door you can think of, including anything else with AMG or M on its deck lid. Our seat-of-the-pants impressions under the influence of this Porsche's incredible lateral grip tells us that the Panamera 4S will smoke them all on a real road out in the real world. And if it can't, then its big brother, the 500-hp Panamera Turbo, will.” -- Edmunds
  • “Yes, the Bentley Flying Spur is faster, with a 202-mph top speed, but the Panamera Turbo would obliterate the Bentley on a road course.” -- Los Angeles Times
  • “What if no racetrack is handy? Not to worry. The car is easy to live with in normal driving.” -- USA TODAY
  • “Even the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, arguably one of the Panamera's closest competitors, pales in performance.” -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

Auto writers are nearly speechless at the acceleration of the Porsche Panamera.  Non-turbocharged editions go from zero to sixty in a little less than five seconds, while the turbocharged version gets there in four seconds flat – faster than a Maserati Quattroporte or a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG.  The 2010 Porsche Panamera is available with two engines.  The rear-wheel-drive Panamera S, and all-wheel-drive 4S edition are both powered by a 4.8-liter V8 making 400 horsepower.  The Panamera Turbo, available only in all-wheel-drive, uses a turbocharged version of the same engine, making 500 horsepower.  All Panameras use Porsche’s seven-speed, dual-clutch PDK transmission.  It shifts automatically, but can be shifted manually through steering-wheel mounted paddles.

Despite its enormous power, the Panamera has a fuel-saving feature borrowed from hybrid cars.  A start/stop system will shut the car’s engine off and restart it when the driver hits the gas pedal, minimizing fuel wasted idling at stoplights.  In U.S. versions of the car, the feature is turned off unless the driver turns it on.  We found that it saved a significant amount of gas.  Re-starts at stoplights, however, were occasionally rough, shaking the car a bit -- but it's difficult to wake a 400 horsepower engine subtly.

The EPA has not provided fuel economy estimates for the car.

  • “Though the Panamera offers impressive acceleration, it's nevertheless one of the more fuel-efficient cars in its class.” -- Cars.com
  • “The naturally aspirated Panamera S is smooth and builds up speed in a linear way; the Turbo moves with a nonchalant effortlessness that is almost unparalleled. It takes a second for its turbos to spool up, but if you dare to stay on the gas, you're basically catapulted forward into another dimension.” -- Car and Driver
  • “To nail the throttle, and bring all 567 pound-feet of torque online (in Sport Plus mode), is to know the giddy excitement of falling into a black hole. That 1,000-piece horn section that must have played unceasingly in Richard Wagner's balmy head? It's in the exhaust.” -- Los Angeles Times
  • “The Turbo is the headline grabber, but unless you're truly desperate for 500 hp or need all-wheel drive, the entry-level S is the pick of the Panamera litter. The naturally aspirated 4.8 lacks the mid-range punch of its turbocharged cousin, but revs sweetly to the 6700 rpm redline with a steely growl.” -- Motor Trend
  • “The Panamera was kissing 170 mph. Although we were cutting through the air at Boeing 737 take-off speeds, the Porsche was confident and attentive. Even more so, it was relatively quiet.” -- Autoblog
  • “The seven-speed PDK automatic-manual transmission doesn't need a racetrack to show off. It usually shifted brilliantly. It's a real, clutch-based, manual transmission for quick, firm positive shifts - which it makes for you, automatic style, without a clutch pedal.” -- USA Today

Handling and Braking

Auto writers are astonished at the Panamera’s handling capabilities.  Edmunds notes that in skid pad testing – a technique enthusiast magazines use to try to quantify a car’s handling prowess, the Panamera was “simply light-years ahead of anything else on the planet with four doors.”  Those accustomed to the agility of a Porsche 911 or Boxster won’t find the Panamera the equal of those cars, but for a full-size sedan, it may be the most agile in the world.  Autoblog reports that the Panamera holds the current record for the fastest lap ever driven by a four-door car at the legendary Nürburgring test track in Germany.  It took the title from the Cadillac CTS-V.  The most powerful Panamera, the Turbo edition, gives up 56 horsepower to the Cadillac – so the Porsche beat Cadillac’s super-sedan in the corners.

The Panamera features an adjustable suspension, similar to those found on the BMW 7-Series and Audi S8.  Reviewers say, however, that even Porsche’s “Comfort” setting is a bit firm compared to those cars.  The Porsche will also shift its suspension between modes on its own if a driver’s behavior changes.  The car will shift from “Comfort” to “Sport,” for instance, if the driver accelerates suddenly.

The Panamera’s brakes are extraordinary.  Optional ceramic brakes, reviewers say, are mind-blowingly powerful – but the standard brakes are so good that the optional upgrade isn’t worth the money for most buyers.

  • “The new Porsche Panamera is the best-handling big sedan in the world, which I grant is a little like being the smartest kid on the Arizona State football team or the most chaste governor of South Carolina.” -- Los Angeles Times
  • “Off the Autobahn, and pressed through the canyons that first day, the rear-wheel drive Panamera did its best to impersonate a 911. It was neutral in the corners, and a real pleasure to drive fast. In similar fashion to a 911, it enjoys being pushed hard and never breaks a sweat. While the 7 Series, S-Class and Audi A8 dance like football linebackers, the Porsche sedan demonstrated moves akin to an experienced receiver.” -- Autoblog
  • “Even controlled by an excitable driver…the 4,000-pound Panamera slows promptly, corners with little lean and steers precisely.” -- USA Today
  • “If you use the 911 to represent the epitome of the Porsche experience, the Panamera S is probably a 6 or 7 out of 10 due to the lower level of driver involvement when it comes to braking and steering.” -- Cars.com
  • “Our Turbo tester was also fitted with Porsche's optional ceramic composite brakes (PCCB). These hugely expensive yet hugely effective stoppers can be nuked with impunity on a full-commando run down a mountain pass, but unless you plan on spending a lot of time tracking your Panamera, don't bother spending the money. The standard brakes are pretty bulletproof, and feel better when you're soft-pedaling around town.” -- Motor Trend
  • “The standard brakes are excellent, but the ultra-quick response of the optional, $8840 ceramic brakes is awe inspiring.” -- Car and Driver
Review Last Updated: 1/11/10

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