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.
Having launched the carbonfibre-tubbed 918 Spyder and the Macan SUV in the last few years, engineering teams want to return their focus to the existing range, which will need updating and replacing.
A new Cayenne, for example, based on the same architecture as Audi’s new Q7 and Bentley's upcoming Bentayga SUV, also has to be readied for production alongside the new Panamera.
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
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.