The Porsche Panamera GTS augers well, because we are fast becoming accustomed to GTS variants being (GT3 aside, perhaps) the most desirable variant in each of Porsche’s model line-ups. For serious drivers, anyway.
And in the Panamera, those letters GTS are particularly notable. Because while the meat of the Panamera range went turbocharged and downsized last year, this version retains a normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 motor. Marvellous.
It sends its power via the obligatory seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox, with drive going to all four wheels. The suspension, though 10mm lowered, features air springs as standard.
A couple of those points raise an eyebrow. On the original Panamera launch, Porsche execs told me their favourite version was the naturally aspirated ‘S’ model with rear-wheel drive and steel springs. You’re now unable to get such a Panamera. Seems a shame.
Still, Porsche knows more about this sort of thing than I do. Presumably nobody would buy one. So the Panamera GTS stays air sprung and with four driven wheels.
Well, there’s certainly no shortage of old-school drama when you first twist the key. The V8 automatically revs up a bit before settling to a purposeful idle.
From then on, the GTS is a slightly curious thing. The engine wants revving to give its best, which manifests as 434bhp at 6700rpm. A bit like an old V10 BMW M5, then, the Panamera GTS wants working hard.
That’s a slightly curious thing to be doing in a pseudo-luxury car that’s all but two tonnes in weight and more than five metres in length, given that such cars are typically about lazy, effortless responses.
Still, put the effort in and there’s reward to be had. It makes that great noise for a start, while traction is unbeatable and the brakes are superb. The Panamera also steers better than any other huge saloon. There’s a weight, heft and accuracy through the rim that isn’t trying to disguise the car’s size. The tightness of the body control manages that well enough.
However, I couldn’t help craving a touch more adjustability via the throttle and greater consistency to the ride, which has that familiar air-sprung ‘sproing’ to it, for all of its flatness.
Air springs do mean, however, that the Panamera is relatively well isolated on most roads, while at speed its straight-line stability is superb. A several-hour fast motorway cruise gives you every sense as to what the Pamanera is designed for.
The seats and driving position are terrific and, if some of the interior finishes are beginning to appear a little fussy, still there’s a good ambience inside. Good enough to make you forgive the fact that, compared to the latest Audi MMI or BMW iDrive, Porsche's touchscreen set-up is a little clumsy.
Should you buy one? Maybe, but be sure it’s the right Panamera for you. On those long, lazy journeys, the confident low-rev response of a turbocharged car would seem more appropriate than the urgency of the GTS's V8.
And when twistier roads arrive, the GTS seems a bit more complicated and sophisticated than it needs to be. So it’s a bit of a compromise, but one I could live with. Is it the pick of this range? Not for all of our testers, no. But that V8 soundtrack means it’s probably the one I’d have. Probably.
Porsche Panamera GTS
Price £93,391; 0-62mph 4.4sec; Top speed 179mph; Economy 26.4mpg; CO2 249g/km; Kerb weight 1925kg; Engine V8, 4806cc, petrol; Power 434bhp at 6700rpm; Torque 384lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox seven-speed dual-clutch automatic