Pretty Panamera

Stylish curves are aplenty on the new Panamera. And with the intuitive touchscreen, the car can be individualised to behave according to the driver's fancy.
Stylish curves are aplenty on the new Panamera. And with the intuitive touchscreen, the car can be individualised to behave according to the driver's fancy.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Stylish curves are aplenty on the new Panamera. And with the intuitive touchscreen, the car can be individualised to behave according to the driver's fancy.
Stylish curves are aplenty on the new Panamera. And with the intuitive touchscreen, the car can be individualised to behave according to the driver's fancy.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Porsche's second-generation super saloon has climbed a notch in stature, driveability and looks

Porsche is a fast learner. When it launched its first sport utility vehicle (SUV), the Cayenne, 15 years ago, the car's blob-like design was its only letdown.

The Cayenne is now easily the most elegant and well-proportioned SUV in town.

Likewise, when the Stuttgart stallion launched the Panamera eight years ago, the four-door, four-seater had a rear that was so clumsily abrupt that it dominated cocktail conversations for a long while.

Now, the second-generation Panamera is everything a Porsche saloon should be - a ride which from the first impression says in no uncertain terms that it is a four-door sports car.

  • SPECS / PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO

  • Price: $711,688 without COE

    Engine: 3,996cc 32-valve V8 twin-turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift

    Power: 550bhp at 5,750rpm

    Torque: 770Nm at 1,960-4,500rpm

    0-100kmh: 3.6 seconds

    Top speed: 306kmh

    Fuel consumption: 9.4 litres/100km

    Agent: Stuttgart Auto

Gone is the awkward backside only a mother could love. In its place is a tapering fastback rear that cheats both the wind and your eyes. From the side, the car looks like a stretched and modernised 928.

From the back, you will see a huge rear windscreen reaching down almost to where the car's split spoilers are.

Immediately below that is a thin one-piece tail-light ensemble that makes the car look like the rear of the Millennium Falcon. Very stylish, especially at night.

Style is aplenty in front, too, although the changes are not as dramatic. The Panamera's bonnet sports dynamic creases that break the monotony of a large slab of metal. Its headlights are simple teardrop affairs, but are, in fact, among the most sophisticated headlamps around (with 109 LEDs on each side).

Whichever side you look, the new Panamera is beautiful - the last word you would use on the previous model. In fact, it looks better than any other luxury grand tourer, including the Aston Martin Rapide.

The Porsche is not all show, though. Inside, it offers plenty of space for four and a boot that looks bigger than its stated 495-litre capacity.

The first Panamera was a big car. Its successor is even bigger, measuring 5,049mm tip to tip, 1,937mm wide and boasting a wheelbase of 2,950mm. Its length and wheelbase are shy of the Mercedes-Benz S-class', but its width exceeds that of the Merc limo's.

That makes the Panamera a little unwieldy for a Porsche. The operative phrase here is "for a Porsche". To help you keep in lane on narrower roads, the Panamera Turbo is the first Porsche to come with lane-assist.

It also comes with a 360-degree camera system, which makes parking the limo-size car a cinch.

The Turbo is endowed with 550bhp and 770Nm. It is absolutely effortless in the city and on the highway. But when you lift your foot off the accelerator, the Porsche betrays a less-than-refined engine- braking tendency. That aside, the gran turismo is beyond reproach.

A car its size can be a handful along twistier stretches, but imagine how much hairier it would have been without the Porsche's adaptive suspension and its precise and well-balanced steering.

On uninterrupted straights and gentle curves, the Panamera is a joy to behold. It is super comfortable and suitably sporty in default drive setting, but you can also individualise the way the car moves to suit your taste and mood.

You can do that on a huge touchscreen that is simply the most functional, intuitive and attractively laid-out system of its kind anywhere. The screen makes the modern and over-equipped cabin a good place to be in. It also dispenses with the myriad buttons the previous car had.

Porsche has upgraded most of the switchgear, making the interior as tactile as the exterior is visual.

With all this, the new Panamera is clearly a notch more luxurious and engaging than its predecessor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Pretty Panamera'. Print Edition | Subscribe