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2011 Porsche Panamera Review

This review was written when the 2011 Porsche Panamera was new.

Now in its second model year, the 2011 Porsche Panamera continues to impress the automotive press with its performance and luxurious interior. Still, some reviewers dislike the Panamera’s styling, and even the base model’s price can skyrocket as you make your way through the options list.

With its first-class interior and athletic performance, the 2011 Porsche Panamera impresses nearly all who drive it. Rear-seat accommodations are almost as roomy as those up front, and the Panamera’s hatchback design gives it a utilitarian edge – with the rear seats folded it can match the cargo capacity of some SUVs. Edmunds says, “Yes, the Porsche Panamera does truly deliver the best of both worlds: sports car and sedan.”

Despite offering the comfort and convenience shoppers expect from a super luxury car, the Panamera still manages impressive performance. It’s as nimble a four-door sedan as you’ll likely find, and if you buy a turbo-charged model, it’ll go from zero to 60 faster than a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.

Thus far, the Panamera may look like the total package, but reviewers do have a few bones to pick with this Porsche. First, the automotive press isn’t in love with the Panamera’s appearance. Its steep roofline and hatchback body improve cargo capacity and passenger space in the back seat, but they also mean that the Panamera doesn’t have the sleek, sexy lines of other Porsche models like the 911. Second, despite its interior comfort, its low-slung design means that the Panamera can be difficult to get in and out of for taller folks. Lastly, there’s the price. Porsche has a long options list for the Panamera, and tacking on options can make an already expensive car even pricier.

Despite these minor qualms, if you’re looking for a super luxury car with impressive performance and an opulent, private jet-like interior, the Panamera may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Other Cars to Consider

The Panamera is unique among super luxury cars. It offers a luxurious interior that cars like the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class can match, yet these cars struggle to match the Panamera in terms of performance. Still, rivals from BMW and Mercedes do have one advantage – each offers space for five passengers, while the Panamera only has room for four.

Starting at just under $71,000, the BMW 7-Series is less expensive, and more powerful than the base Panamera. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine puts out 15 more horsepower than the Panamera, and you’ll save about $4,000 off the base price. Still, the 7-Series doesn’t quite match the Panamera in terms of fuel economy, and while the BMW is a capable performer, the Panamera trumps it when the road gets twisty. Still, with multiple engine and drivetrain configurations – there’s even a 7-Series Hybrid – BMW’s flagship is worth a look before you throw down your many hard-earned dollars.

With a base price of $91,000, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class may not seem like a fair comparison at first. However, if you’re looking at the Panamera in S, Hybrid S or Turbo trims, the S-Class starts to make a lot more sense. At $91,000 the S400 Hybrid is about $4,000 less than the Panamera Hybrid S, and it offers a spacious interior that can seat one more than the Porsche. However, if you have your heart set on the Panamera S, the Mercedes S550 would be a more direct competitor, and more costly. At $93,000 the S550 is about $3,000 more expensive than the Panamera S, and it’s not as powerful or as fuel efficient. If you like the Panamera but want a softer, more luxurious ride, the S-Class may be worth looking into.

Porsche Panamera: The Details

For 2011, the Porsche Panamera is available in a total of five trims: V6-powered Panamera, V8-powered S, the hybrid/supercharged V6 Panamera S Hybrid, and top-of-the-line Turbo and Turbo S models. S Hybrid, base and S models are rear-wheel drive, while Turbo and Turbo S models put power to all four wheels. Additionally, base and S trims can be upgraded to the Panamera 4 and 4S, which feature all-wheel drive. All cars use Porsche’s seven-speed PDK transmission – a double clutch gearbox that works like an automatic.

For a bit under $75,000, the base Panamera includes an adaptive suspension, rear park assist, sunroof, power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, eight-way power heated front seats, and an 11-speaker stereo system. S models are similarly equipped, but add a more powerful, V8 engine, bringing the base price to almost $90,000. Adding all-wheel drive to these models isn’t cheap either: The Panamera 4 costs about $4,500 more than the base model, while the 4S costs nearly $5,000 more than the S trim.

For a flat $95,000 Porsche will sell you the Panamera S Hybrid, which should see improved fuel economy thanks to its hybrid powertrain, which incorporates a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. The Hybrid S has not yet been tested by the EPA, but when fuel economy numbers are available, we’ll bring them to you.

The most powerful members of the Panamera family are the Turbo and Turbo S models, which start at about $135,000 and $173,000, respectively. These models are significantly more powerful, and add features like larger wheels, adaptive headlamps, an adaptive air suspension system with adjustable ride height, front parking sensors, push button start, 14-way power adjustable front seats, heated rear seats and a 14-speaker Bose stereo.

Like all Porsche models, adding options can cause the Panamera’s price to skyrocket, and reviewers agree that you should choose options carefully. Even the sticker price for base models can easily climb to well over six figures. The options list is long, and includes notable features such as four-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a rear refrigerator, adaptive cruise control and a DVD entertainment system. 

  • "For someone who really cares about back-road romps, the V-6 Panamera makes a compelling alternative to more conventional sedans like the similarly priced Audi A8 and BMW 7-series." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Its hatchback design and folding rear seat backs make the Panamera uniquely versatile in this class, and that scores points with me. So do the surprisingly strong V6 and all-wheel drive. But the recalcitrant transmission would be an embarrassment in a $15,000 car, control functioning could be easier, and visibility is pretty bad." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The new, entry-level Panamera is essentially the same car as the S and it, too, is a joy to drive. You give up some raw speed but not much else, and the base model may handle a tiny bit better than the S because it's slightly lighter." -- BusinessWeek 
  • "Once you consider all these positives, you could easily accept a merely adequate driving experience. Thankfully, the Panamera exceeds expectations in this regard, even when equipped with the base, V-6 engine." -- Cars.com 
Review Last Updated: 7/22/11

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