Autocar’s spy photographers have snapped the most undisguised prototype yet seen of the Porsche Panamera, testing on public roads around the Nurburgring. Codenamed G1, the first front-engined four-seater Porsche saloon isn’t due to be unveiled until the Frankfurt motor show in 2009, yet the styling already looks complete.Ignore this black test mule’s black tape and you can easily trace the Panamera’s roofline, as well as spot the kinked rear-door and shallow window-line. The tail-lights extend dramatically across the body from the base of the hatchback roof, too.
Big and beautiful?
Penned by former Saab design boss Michael Mauer, the Panamera will compete directly against luxury sports saloon newcomers the Aston Martin Rapide and Jaguar XFR.Despite the coupe-like aesthetic, the five-metre long Panamera will be a very spacious four-seater with 470-litres of boot space.But Zuffenhausen is nervous. First impressions of the bloated rear end have been mixed, offending some Porschephiles. Even with this criticism, the success of the less-than-pretty Cayenne make boss Wendelin Wiedeking’s estimated annual output of 20,000 units seem too conservative.
RWD at launch; 4WD soon afterwards
On UK sale in early 2010, the Panamera will initially be sold in rear-wheel-drive only, with either a naturally aspirated 400bhp or 520bhp turbocharged version of Porsche's 4.8-litre V8 petrol engine. An all-wheel-drive system could be introduced for 2011. A range-topping hybrid version would then follow.