Review: Porsche Panamera (2016)
Superb blend of fun driving dynamics, comfort and refinement. High-tech interior. Fantastic performance.
Four seats, not five. Expensive to buy. Optional extras ramp up the price further.
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Porsche Panamera (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £68,783
- Contract hire deals from £802.14 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 49–50
It isn’t cheap, but the Porsche Panamera combines all the precise handling prowess of a sports car with the luxury, comfort and practicality of a high-end saloon. It isn’t quite as family-friendly as a Cayenne nor is it as luxurious as a limo like the Audi A8, but it’s much easier to live with than a 911.
It’s seriously impressive just how well the Panamera blends typically paradoxical qualities. If you want to simply drive to the local restaurant or pick up some shopping it's quiet and cossetting, with excellent ride quality and an almost silent cabin. Similarly, it will cope with long motorway drives.
But take it to your favourite road and it really comes alive, with surprising poise, fantastic steering and lots of lovely noise, even if you go for a diesel or hybrid version. The engine range consists of 2.9-litre and 3.0-litre V6 petrols, plus a 4.0-litre V8 petrol and a 4.0-litre V8 diesel.
You can also get two plug-in hybrid versions, which combine a battery pack and electric motor with either the 2.9-litre V6 petrol or 4.0-litre V8 petrol. Both versions are capable of covering a short commute on electric power alone, provided the batteries are charged up.
Inside, the Panamera is exquisite. The fit and finish is impeccable and there’s a high-tech layout, with touch-sensitive controls for more or less everything in the centre console and stack. There’s also a large, clear, responsive touchscreen system and sensibly-placed steering wheel-mounted controls.
The Panamera is a four-seater, so there is no middle seat, but the rear row provides a good amount of leg and headroom, while the hatchback makes access to the sizeable boot very straightforward compared to a saloon. The rear seats can be folded down for bulky items too.
Compared to the Audi A7 Sportback or BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, the Porsche Panamera looks, feels and drives like a more special car. It’s a superb piece of engineering that does everything any enthusiastic driver could hope for. But there is a very high price to pay, and full-size executive saloons like the Audi A8 are more comfortable if you're more interested in sitting in the back.
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Porsche Panamera (2016): What's It Like Inside?
Inside, Porsche has given the Panamera a very modern, clean layout. The chunky centre console and stack is covered in touch sensitive buttons to control everything from temperature to drive mode – but these cleverly have haptic feedback, so respond with a click, just like an old-fashioned, analogue button.
There’s also a wide, responsive touchscreen system at the top of the centre stack that works well and is packed with high-tech features including controls for in-car WiFi. The instrument binnacle has digital elements too, which the driver can configure to show their choice of info. A big, central rev-counter remains the focus though, as is typical for Porsche cars.
Material quality is wonderful. The cabin not only looks space age, it feels like it could survive a trip to Mars and back – everything is beautifully installed and feels as durable as it is luxurious. There’s a surprising amount of space, too, with room in the two rear seats for adults to get comfy – although there is no middle seat.
If you need even more space, there is an “Executive” body style, with a longer wheelbase for more rear-seat roominess. Optionally, there are plenty of extras for those in the back row too including 10-inch displays that are integrated into the headrests of the front seats.
The boot is a good size at 495 litres, which is plenty for shopping trips, luggage or golf bags. You can also fold the rear seats down to free up some extra space, which should enable trips to Ikea. The sloping tailgate design does limit the bulkiness of the objects you can carry, though.
Standard equipment includes all the essentials, with climate control, cruise control, navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth. Executive versions get more gear including air suspension, a panoramic roof and soft close doors. But you're unlikely to buy a Panamera without options - and there are lots.
Extras across include massage seats, a thermal imaging camera and a huge variety of interior and exterior customisation, from paint colours to alloy wheel designs and upholstery finishes.
Child seats that fit a Porsche Panamera (2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Porsche Panamera (2016) like to drive?
- Engines range from Panamera E-Hybrid to Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
Porsche hasn’t held back when it comes to engine options for the Panamera. There’s an entry-level 3.0-litre V6 petrol, a more powerful, twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 petrol, available with or without a hybrid system, a 4.0-litre V8 diesel and a 4.0-litre V8 petrol – the latter of which is also available with or without hybrid technology. Something for all tastes, as long as you want to go quite quickly.
There isn’t a bad choice among them – all of the engines produce a broad spread of useable torque, sound good and come with a slick PDK automatic transmission. The result is great performance on the road in almost any circumstance, whether you’re on a relaxed motorway cruise or an exciting country road.
If you want the absolute best performance, then the Panamera Turbo is the place to start. With 550PS and a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds, it really is rapid. But if you want to be responsible with your power, you can ally the Turbo to a hybrid system, improving fuel economy and giving a limited pure-electric range – though to use that you do need to keep the battery topped up from the mains.
Another way to look after your fuel economy is to go for the 4S diesel. It has an official figure of 42.2mpg, plus an insane 850Nm of torque from just 1000rpm, which makes for surging acceleration when on the move. And, since it’s a 4.0-litre V8, it even sounds good in a muted sort of way.
Regardless of engine, the Panamera is very quiet and comfortable most of the time. The seats are supportive, the driving position is good, the suspension soaks up bumps and the level of refinement is superb. You can spend hours at the wheel without getting tired.
But the Panamera works on a road with corners too. The steering is precise and beautifully weighted, body control is great and there’s loads of grip, thanks to the all-wheel drive system fitted to all but the most basic, 3.0-litre versions. The muted engines also start to sound a bit more exciting when you push them hard and use all of the rev range.
It’s surprising just how enjoyable the Panamera is to drive, given the level of comfort and refinement it provides. But there is no escaping physics – and this is a heavy car. So, while it has precise steering and good suspension, it never feels as agile or as lithe as a 911, Cayman or Boxster, even though it tries its best.
|Panamera||37 mpg||5.7 s||173 g/km|
|Panamera 4||36–37 mpg||5.5–5.6 s||177–197 g/km|
|Panamera 4S||34–34 mpg||4.4–4.5 s||186–189 g/km|
|Panamera Diesel S||42 mpg||4.5 s||178 g/km|
|Panamera E-Hybrid||-||4.6–4.7 s||56 g/km|
|Panamera GTS||27 mpg||4.1 s||235 g/km|
|Panamera Turbo||27–30 mpg||3.8–3.9 s||214–217 g/km|
|Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid||97 mpg||3.4–3.5 s||66 g/km|