Curious mix of raw and cooked doesn’t automatically make the GTS the stand-out car in the Panamera range

What is it?

The Porsche Panamera GTS, which augurs well, because we’re 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 Porsche 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 V8 of 4.8-litres. 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, as standard, air springs.

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. 

What's it like?

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 a 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 I 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. 

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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 7-spd dual-clutch automatic

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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JOHN T SHEA 28 November 2014


The Panamera, Panamera Diesel, and Panamera S all have RWD and coil springs as standard in the UK.
Andrew 61 26 November 2014

I think the weight kills it?

I think the weight kills it? At £90k a pop surly porsche could have come up with a lighter engineering solution than this.... Stylistically I think looking for inspiration from 928 rather than 911 would have worked better?
Cobnapint 26 November 2014

Button it.

There's nothing wrong with having buttons on display in a car. We have them everywhere else in modern life - phones, computer keyboards, TV remotes etc, why do people get in such a tizz when confronted with a heated-seat button, three airflow direction buttons, and a few others for your convenience.
Do you really want to be trying to scroll through a technology-for-the-sake-of-it menu or touchscreen (like in the RRS) just to get a warm arse on a frosty morning?