Porsche Panamera

Second-gen banishes the sins of the original

TOBY HAGON

Model Engine Max power Maxt torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Porsche Panamera Turbo 3996cc V8 (90į), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 404kW @ 5750-6000rpm 770Nm @ 1960-4500rpm 8-speed dual-clutch 1995kg 3.6sec (with Sport Chrono) 9.4L/100km $376,900 Now

Second-gen banishes the sins of the original

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

SECOND time lucky. It could almost be a Porsche motto. With the exception of the Macan, the first generation of many generation of many modern-era Porsches Ė think Boxster, Cayenne or Panamera Ė have in parts been underdone or, at least, underwhelming.

Enter the second-generation Panamera. Like the original itís a big hatchback rather than a traditional sedan, bringing a generous 495 litres of boot space.

Faster than ever, too, courtesy of new-generation V6 and V8 engines, each of which will soon spawn a hybrid. An extra ratio in the latest PDK transmission also helps performance and efficiency.

helps performance and efficiency.

Even in twin-turbo V6 guise thereís a fiery 324kW and 550Nm to play with. Unleash it with the optional Sport Chrono pack that includes launch control and itíll scrabble all four wheels to hit 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds.

The V6 is enthusiastic across a broad rev range, able to effortlessly shift the Panamera's 1.9-tonne body. The occasional flutter from a deep but muted exhaust adds a dash of aural excitement, although itís no V8.

For that, youíll need the Panamera Turbo, which gets a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, and ups the outputs to 404kW and 770Nm, the latter on tap below 2000rpm.

With launch control, the 100km/h sprint drops to 3.6 seconds.

The noise is throatier, too, but itís on the road where the Panamera has matured most.

A new three-chamber air suspension system (up from two) dramatically improves the ride.

Our 4S was on optional 20-inch Our 4S was on optional 20-inch wheels, yet dealt with all but the sharpest edges elegantly. In its softest setting, thereís infinitely better control than the original.

The stiffest Sport Plus setting tightens things significantly, but not to the point of being uncomfortable, although the mid setting is generally sufficient for spirited cornering.

That said, the Panamera is more tensely tied down than, say, an S-Class, and the 21-inch hoops on our Turbo did marginally degrade the ride. But the pay-off comes once you ramp up the pace, with more grip and chassis ability than any luxo of this size. The optional rear-axle steering (it turns the wheels up to 2.8 degrees) adds to the excellent high-speed stability.

The stretched body allows for more generous rear legroom and the twin bucket seats are a luxurious way to travel. Taller occupants may wish for another couple of centimetres, however

Yet it adds up to an extremely fast and engaging offering. This is no four-door 911, but in terms of encapsulating the company philosophy in a large luxury car, the Panamera is closer than it has ever been.

PLUS & MINUS

Rear-seat space not up to S-Class levels; degraded ride on 21s Potent engines blend beautifully with new PDK; comfort and space

Itís packing

A generous smattering of equipment includes electric front seats, quadzone climate control, Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto) and adaptive air suspension. Keep ticking boxes and you can add loads of luxury fare, from selfsucking doors and a rear sunblind to ambient lighting, Alcantara roof lining or a sensational 21-speaker Burmester stereo. An extra $30K on top of the $304,200 for the 4S (or $376,900 for the Turbo) is merely a few pen strokes away.