The next-generation Porsche Panamera has been teased again, this time in a sketch, ahead of its reveal later this month.
The car will be unveiled at an event in Berlin before going on display at the Paris motor show in September.
Previous spy pictures had shown the car in almost completely undisguised form, with mock light clusters its only camouflage, and before the sketch was released the luxury car was teased in a promotional video.
The spy pictures show that the new design draws heavily from the new 718 Boxster, with a similar front spoiler and air intake treatment. The profile of the new Panamera is also sleeker than that of its predecessor.
The car looks almost production ready in recent shots, which show it being subjected to high-speed testing at the Nürburgring nearly camouflage-free.
Previous spy shots revealed the upcoming car's interior, which has a brand new centre console. This indicates that Porsche may be looking to update the cabin architecture of its saloon. New wooden-clad surfaces can be seen in these pictures, complete with a new, larger gear lever.
Based on a new, advanced rear and all-wheel-drive platform called MSB, the Panamera will incorporate multiple weight-saving measures and an all-new range of V6 and V8 petrol engines, which should give a muscular power delivery.
A hybrid version was also been spotted testing last year, with the small 'hybrid' sticker in the right-hand front window the only visible difference between it and conventionally powered models.
The template for the new Panamera is based on the technical and design advances introduced on the latest 991 series of the 911, which incorporates six different material types, including magnesium, multi-phase steels and aluminium skin panels.
These new materials helped to reduce the kerb weight of 911 models by up to 45kg, despite a significant increase in the car’s overall dimensions, more stringent crash test standards and a higher level of standard equipment.
“Weight is our enemy and we are looking for the same percentage of aluminium as on the new 911,” said Porsche technical head Wolfgang Hatz. “If you do nothing, the car becomes heavier and heavier. Comfort always equals weight, too.”
Without the high proportion of aluminium structure and body panels, the latest 911 would have put on about 60kg, according to Porsche’s own estimates.
Applied to the Panamera, these weight saving measures are understood to ensure that its kerb weight stays at about 1800kg to 1900kg. This is despite more luxury equipment and a new, non-regulatory narrow overlap crash test, which is championed by consumer groups.
The new Panamera is understood to sit on a slightly longer wheelbase and have marginally lesser front and rear overhangs than the current model. However, the overall dimensions and interior space remain broadly similar.
A significant part of the programme is the exterior redesign, which is aimed at improving the current car’s polarising looks.
Comment from Panamera design chief Michael Mauer
Design chief Michael Mauer told journalists at the Paris motor show in October 2014 that the styling will “still divide opinion” but will be “more attractive”.
Mauer said: “You have to recognise it is the new one, but as well recognise that it is the successor. So the car will look different. It will look better, but you will immediately see that it is the Panamera.”
Testing prototypes appear to be strongly influenced by the latest 911 - particularly the haunches over the rear wheel arches, which are emphasised by more pronounced creases on the new Panamera.
Mauer also said the rear screen will be reclined at a “faster” angle, meaning a more raked fastback shape.
Porsche is also understood to be planning a redesign of the interior and moving some of the functions clustered on buttons around the centre console to a central touchscreen, a current trend in interior design. Evidence of this can be seen in our latest spy pictures.
Autocar understands that the new family of V6 and V8 petrol and turbo engines currently under development is tipped to be one of the new Panamera’s standout features.
New from the ground up, the next Panamera has been the subject of significant investment to ensure that it has a unique, sporty character. The programme fought off the option within the Volkswagen Group of merging the Porsche/Bentley V8's development with the Audi unit in order to save money.
New engine test cells have been installed at Weissach as part of an annual £60million investment programme.
The concentration of this new engine development work at Weissach is partly responsible for the large influx of new engineers at Porsche, whose total workforce has risen to about 20,000 from 12,000 in just three years.
As well as the petrol V6 and V8, the MSB platform is being engineered around a diesel V6 and the hybrid.
The diesel will continue to be an Audi unit that Porsche modifies for the Panamera, eased by the close proximity to Weissach of Audi’s diesel development operation.
Significantly, Bentley has finally decided to join the MSB programme to underpin the successors to the Continental and Flying Spur. This means that Porsche is ‘package protecting’ the new platform for a 12-cylinder engine.
Porsche is also working on a new range of transmissions, understood to be PDK dual-clutch automatics and manuals, although details are scarce.
Whether or not the Bentley will retain its ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic has yet to be confirmed, but given Bentley’s focus on refined and reserved power, it seems likely.
Porsche is not yet committing in public to other variants of the Panamera, but sources have revealed that two-door coupé and convertible versions, which can share their engineering with the new Bentley Continental GT and GT Convertible, have been package protected. A Shooting Brake version has also been spotted testing; we expect this model to arrive shortly after the regular car.
This means that construction details for the two-door body styles, such as stiffening of the bodyshell for the convertible and stowage space for the hood, have been built into the engineering concept design, even if the production investment has not yet been committed.
However, they may well be integral to Porsche’s plan to raise production to 200,000 units a year by 2018, together with a promise to launch a new model each year until then.
Bentley’s involvement in the project will also help Porsche to engineer these spin-offs, because its three-box designs incorporate a rear bulkhead essential in order to stiffen the structure of an open-top design. The four-door Panamera’s fastback design, with its estate-style folding rear seats, doesn’t have the necessary bulkhead.
The green light for the two-door Panamera family now hinges as much on Porsche’s engineering capacity as on the projected market demand.
Hatz said: “At the moment we are on full load, even overload, so let’s do the homework which we have to do. We have had a great deal of development in the past four years. Now we have to stabilise this.”
In fact, such is the workload on Porsche’s engineers that sources in Germany report that much of the detailed production engineering of the new Panamera has been contracted out to consultants to open up capacity for Porsche’s own engineers to work on other projects.
Q&A with Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche board member for R&S, VW Group head of engine and transmissions
The new 911 uses aluminium extensively in its body. Will the Panamera follow that lead?
Absolutely, we will do. The same percentage as the 991? I think more.
What sort of weight saving can we expect?
Now we have to do the next step, but it will not be 50kg just from the body. We have to save from each component and each part.
The 918 Spyder uses a carbonfibre tub. Can this technology trickle down to the 911 and Boxster?
The 918 Spyder is very Iightweight, but at a high price point. Carbonfibre will not be ready in the next 10 years for a volume production car.
What is the production future of a Panamera coupé, a new 928?
I like it very much. But in the last three years, we have done the 918 Spyder and the Macan, all on top of what was planned. We have big programmes on powertrain and transmissions – all new. And we did the 919 race car from zero. That’s a big effort from my team.
What about a plug-in hybrid sports car in future?
Our biggest enemy on a sports car is weight. The battery, cooling, plumbing, wiring, electric motor and ECUs add 320kg to the 918 Spyder. Take it out and the car would weigh close to 1300kg, including liquids. It would be the lightest supercar in the world.
Can you solve this problem?
The technology has to become lighter, with reduced cost, complexity and so on. We have to work on it and, in the end, we can do it if we work on it.