When Porsche’s sports saloon finally materialised as the Panamera in 2010, it didn’t quite floor us with its beauty. So, it was a good thing that it drove like a Porsche.
It received a facelift in 2013. Four years later, the second-generation Porsche Panamera based on the MSB platform landed with styling that was much better resolved – especially in the rear.
Like clockwork, the 2021 model year brings yet another mid-life revision and facelift.
PORSCHE PANAMERA: NEW DETAILS
The exterior changes are subtle and only pertain to the plastic body parts. In fact, the new standard front bumpers are actually the extra cost, SportDesign option from the pre-facelift version.
It does make the car look even better, but it will be tough to spot on the new model.
The differences at the rear are just as challenging to notice, as there is only a minor revision of the lower diffuser apron.
However, the eagle-eyed will spot the revised full-width rear light strip with what Porsche calls their three-dimensional LED tail-lights. Said strip flows across the luggage compartment lid, connecting the left and right tail-lamps.
Meanwhile, the biggest change to the cockpit is that the Sports steering wheel with paddle shifters is now standard. The car has 14-way electrically adjustable front seats as standard, too.
Clearly, there was not much more to be done to improve things. Unless of course, one wishes for discrete buttons for the commonly used items like the air-conditioning in lieu of a “buried” menu in the infotainment system.
PORSCHE PANAMERA: PERFORMANCE UPGRADES
Things get more interesting in the engine and chassis department. Before the facelift, we were left wondering why there were two V6 engines available with a minute difference in displacement (2995cc vs 2894cc).
The slightly larger one has now been phased out, and the smaller 2.9-litre V6 has been upgraded. It now sports two turbochargers instead of a single twin-scroll turbo.
To ensure that there would be no drawbacks in having the smaller engine and the same 326hp (330PS) power rating, engineers improved the century sprint time from 5.7 seconds to 5.4 seconds.
This was achieved through software tweaking to take full advantage of the new generation Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
As with most Porsches, what is most impressive about the Panamera is not its raw numbers, but how it feels when driven with brio or even gently.
The entry-level Porsche Panamera is rear-wheel-drive and it does a great job at convincing you that you are truly driving a Porsche. Even at this “entry level”, the chassis is clearly well sorted and the response and weight of the controls are nigh on perfect for the job.
Porsche has improved ride comfort without sacrificing any of its sporty handling. This refinement is clearly noticed throughout the important aspects of the Panamera.
The twin-turbo V6 delivers lag-free power and spins convincingly to the redline.
Complementing the powerplant is the PDK transmission – undoubtedly the industry’s state-of-the-art gearbox. It combines satisfyingly instantaneous shifts with near torque converter smoothness and functionality.
This is especially noticeable when it comes to gentle creeping at very low speeds, which is handy when parking.
The Porsche Panamera is a large and hefty saloon, but its handling still amazes. Engineers have managed to give this updated model a little more sharpness and resolution.
Although the front end’s grip may not compete with the 911, the Panamera – even on Pilot Sport 4 tyres – willingly partakes in some enthusiastic driving without you needing to worry about washing out in understeer.
Actually, since the Pilot Sport 4 tyres have more modest grip than the Pilot Sport 4 S, it is easier to reveal the Panamera’s ultimate handling characteristics. And I must say, it is genuinely a ball to drive.
The Panamera is not quite a 911 but remember, it is a luxurious and practical four-door Porsche saloon.
Should you want to close the gap to the 911, you can always pony up for the 621hp (630PS) Porsche Panamera Turbo S.
But unlike some “base” models from would-be competitors, the Panamera is not one to be avoided. In fact, it makes a very sensible proposition for those who would like to join the ever-increasing legion of Porsche owners.
Porsche Panamera 2.9 (A)
ENGINE 2894cc, 24-valves, V6, twin-turbocharged
MAX POWER 326hp (330PS, 243kW) at 5400-6400rpm
MAX TORQUE 450Nm at 1800-5000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 174.7hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.6 seconds (5.4 seconds with Sport Chrono Package)
TOP SPEED 270km/h
CONSUMPTION 10.9km/L (combined)
PRICE EXCL. COE From $380,388 (after $20k VES surcharge)
AGENT Stuttgart Auto