2017 Porsche Panamera

The next level

“Comfortable and exceptional…reminds you that your money was well spent.”

“Steering is multi-functional and similar to the 718's driving modes.”

“The new signature four-point LED headlights and brake lights are highly visible, even in broad daylight.”

“Ignition ‘On' and you are welcomed by the cold start engine, which you will love for the first 30 or 40 seconds.”

“The four-seat 911,” said Hisham.

Porsches need no introductions. Being a very well established sports car maker they are one of the best - especially when it comes to updating a current model and making it what we wished it would have been when it was first launched. Porsche's president stated that there are three things between the previous model and the current Panamera that remain the same: the logo, the name, and the character; the rest are all new. To be honest, I wasn't so fond of the design of the car when it was first launched: I thought it was too big, and was shaped to be practical but seemed as though the designers disregarded the looks. For most regular people (which are the majority), the new Panamera resembles its predecessor a lot, but to us car enthusiasts it's like the president said - it's an all-new one.

The body panels have been modified to be more aerodynamic and sharp. Its lines are now cleaner and less drag resistant. Although there is a great price difference between the 4S and the Turbo, the exterior and interior details are very modest so you have to be like me and have the power addiction to go for the 4.0-liter V8 twin-turbo, which by the way is a volcano with its 770 Nm of torque. The sharper look given to the car is a perfect statement from Porsche of their understanding of what the super executive sedan is. Drive and be driven in, thanks to more space and legroom at the rear, is what the four-seater 911 is. The sedan is stretched, gaining 30mm in length and 7mm in width, and this increases stability and pushes the handling to its best. The new signature four-point LED headlights and brake lights are highly visible, even in broad daylight. The panoramic roof is an option that you can now tick and enjoy a sunny interior cabin. As for the all-new Porsches, always go with the new, optional LED Matrix headlights with PDLS Plus, they will make the car much more modern and stylish (I know I would). The weight loss is 90 kilograms due to a new multi-material mix body design that uses mostly lightweight aluminum and steel but the overall weight of the car remains the same because of all the luxury additions and an updated and delicious options list - or should we call it options ‘Menu'.

Night vision is now available, also lane change assist, lane keep assist (including traffic sign recognition), park assist (including surround view cameras) and finally adaptive cruise control. The new features and technological updates are important and in demand by 6-Series, CLS-Classes and Audi A7's clients. It's all great, but Porsches are about speed combined with everyday usability, so what have they done with the technical and mechanical parts of the car which are not seen but felt? The engineering department focused not only on increasing power, but they also focused on building a dynamic chassis that could translate the power to the ground. They created something called the Porsche 4D Chassis Control and it consists of (obviously) four elements beginning with a three-chamber air suspension that increases the air by 60% in the shock absorber, making the car more comfortable due to a bigger air cushion to absorb the road's potholes and bumps - very helpful, especially on our Lebanese highways. The second element is the restructured Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport), coming in third is the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and finally the new and famous rear axle steering that is now an option on the 4S and the Turbo models.

A fresh set of engines are specified to the Panamera. The 4S has a 2.9 -liter twin-turbo with 440-hp and 550 Nm of torque, and the Turbo has a 4.0-liter twin-turbo power plant giving out 550-hp and 770 Nm of torque, which is enough to move a small mountain. The turbos now are housed inside the ‘V' to reduce lag and increase efficiency.

What does all this innovation and technological wizardry mean? Well, I woke up at seven in the morning to find out.

The key is now flatter than before; it now fits in my pocket. I turned the ignition and I was welcomed by the cold start, which I love for the first 30 or 40 seconds when the engine is loud and working to warm up. I cannot begin to explain what the interior looks like - it's a benchmark. I mean, the updated cabin is so futuristic and modern.

The dashboard houses a 12.3-inch touchscreen that controls almost all the features and options and it's configurable to suit my priorities and to provide me with an optimum feeling of comfort and confidence. The instrument cluster holds the rpm dial in the middle and has two seven-inch customizable screens on each side to keep me informed and to keep my eyes on the road for safety measures.

The steering is multi-functional and, like the 718's, the driving modes are switchable with the flick of a finger on the Sport Response button. The aircraft-like center console that used to hold millions of buttons is converted to a direct touch control surface (but, I have to say that I had to press hard to get the command I wanted), and a newly designed gear lever covered with leather is at the center with easy and comfortable access to it. The cool gimmick is the center air vents that are controlled digitally from a screen so I can open, close, move the blades right and left with a simple slide of my fingers, and at the rear it's the same story. The air distribution is also systematized in that same screen.

I drove the car in the city where it performed beautifully; it's comfortable and special and reminds me that my money is well spent. I went through the driving modes and immediately realized that the Panamera is meant to be driven by a meticulous and car-loving businessperson that is looking to transport him/herself in style. The 4S has the power to make my journeys in total relaxation and gave me the hint of power I need.

The Turbo however, is a different story with 3.6 seconds from zero-to-100 km/h, which is 0.3 seconds less than the previous model - it's a rocket. The deployable rear wing opens up like a weapon from Star Wars. The way the turbo pulls from 80 km/h to 180 km/h is mind blowing. The all-new eight-speed gearbox is lighter and shifts faster than the one it replaces. After a few hours of urban driving we reached an empty parking lot with a dynamic course set to test the car's handling. I was surprised that the path was narrow but the vice president informed me that it was like that because the car is so nimble now that I can make it do exactly what I want.

Quite frankly I was concerned because the last model had two way steering; it's like I turn the rim first step then the car turns second step. I could always feel the weight of the car, as for the new Panamera, Porsche worked on this issue and the car is more precise and spikey. The slalom puts the rear axle steer to the test and I can say that I didn't really feel it due to the two tons I was dragging until I drove the circuit a couple of times. Changing directions is easier and safer than what it was.

If I were a businessman I would choose to take my journeys and arrive to dinners in a Panamera rather than a 6-Series, CLS-Class or an A7. The next level of fast, luxurious sedans are starting with this vehicle. One more thing worth mentioning is that a long wheelbase option will be available to the chauffeur-oriented people.

Pros: Stunning interior, best infotainment system
Cons: The exterior styling is still a bit cloudy for me   
one word: potent
Rivals: BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, Audi S7, Audi RS7, Jaguar XJR, Maserati Quattroporte GTS
4.5 Stars

2.9L twin-turbo V6, 440 hp @ 5,650-6,600 rpm, 550 Nm @ 1,750-5,500 rpm
8-speed PDK, AWD
0-100 km/h: 4.2 sec, top speed: 289 km/h, fuel consumption: 8.2-8.1 L/100 km
Weight: 1,995 kg

4.0L V8 twin-turbochargers, 550 hp @ 5,750-6,000 rpm, 770 Nm @ 1,960-4,500 rpm   
8-speed PDK, AWD
0-100 km/h: 3.6 sec, top speed: 306 km/h, fuel consumption: 9.4-9.3 L/100 km
Weight: 2,041 kg

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