What is it?
With all of the new model activity going on at Porsche these days it would be easy to look upon the new Porsche Panamera GTS as just another version of its big luxury liftback conceived to pad out its ever growing range in the search of greater profits prior to the arrival of a facelifted model later this year.
But to do so would be to ignore one thing: the Panamera GTS is, whisper it, quite special – by far the most engaging in what is now a significant seven strong line-up of Panamera models offered here in the UK.
What’s it like?
At the heart of the Panamera GTS is a powered up version of the naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 direct injection petrol engine found in the Panamera S. Through the adoption of an altered inlet manifold and other detailed internal modifications, the four-valve-per-cylinder unit gains 30bhp, taking power up to 424bhp. At the same time, torque climbs by 14lb ft to 383lb ft. The same engine is earmarked for the upcoming second generation Cayenne GTS due in the UK in September.
As with its lesser siblings, the Panamera GTS offers the choice between three different driving modes: standard, sport and sport plus. Each mode brings its own specific throttle and steering mapping as well as suspension and driver assistance function settings. The difference is that the this latest version of the range topping Porsche offers a greater spread of abilities– standard mode continues to offer up cosseting refinement but Sport Plus is more sporting than other Panamera models, giving it a more focused character.
The seven speed PDK gearbox, which comes as standard, is brilliantly effective, capable of firing off up shifts under full load with the sort of decisiveness and speed you’re unlikely to ever achieve with a traditional manual gearbox out on the open road while providing imbibing smoothness and efficiency when asked to perform as an automatic on part throttle openings around town. On top of this are its fuel saving features: stop/start, brake energy recuperation included.
Together, the engine and gearbox combine to provide the Panamara GTS with explosive off the line and in-gear acceleration. Despite giving away 148bhp and 119lb ft to the recently launched sixth generaton M5, the new Porsche is just 0.2sec slower to 62mph than the new BMW at a claimed 4.5sec. Porsche also says it’ll hit 100mph in 10.9sec on the way to a top speed of 179mph. Not exactly slow, then. Drive it more sparingly, and you also get close to matching Porsche’s claimed 26.4mpg.
Up until now we’ve been impressed if not exactly blown away by the Panamera’s dynamic ability. It’s more engaging than the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-class on the right road in each of its different guises.
Among the highlights is the lightly altered variable ratio steering, which while continuing to lack for ultimate precision on dead centre improves greatly as lock is applied and is tremendously well weighted – not too light that interaction between driver and car is lost and not too heavy to make it a chore on more challenging back roads.
But it is the changes Porsche’s engineers have made to the suspension which are most telling. Unique elasto-kinematic properties combine with a general 10mm reduction in ride height to provide the GTS with excellent turn in traits, truly impressive body control and the sort of back road agility to shame just about every up-market rival.
Should I buy one?
Make no mistake, this is a large and heavy car, almost five metres in length and close to two tones at the kerb, no less. But it feels much smaller and lighter from the low seat driver’s seat owing to its inherent agility and, thanks to the actions of its sophisticated four wheel drive system with its electronically controlled locking rear differential and integrated torque vectoring feature that juggles the amount of power going to each of the rear wheels, extraordinary grip. Even on winter tyres, as fitted to our test car, its inherent balance provides the driver with great confidence.
Porsche Panamera GTS PDK
Price: TBA; Top speed: 179mph; 0-62mph: 4.5sec; Economy: 26.4mpg; Co2: 251g/km; Kerb weight: 1920kg; Engine type, cc: V8, 4806cc; Installation: front, longitudinal; Power: 424bhp at 6700rpm; Torque: 383lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed double clutch