A smaller engine doesn't prevent the new Porsche Panamera Turbo being a ridiculously quick and capable sporting GT. We've driven it in the UK

What is it?

The 1980s was a decade when everything from hairdryers to stereos - crikey, probably even Stannah Stairlifts - had 'turbo' emblazoned across it. As did, of course, many cars.

The most iconic ‘turboisation’ of them all was perhaps Porsche’s. And even today, a ‘Porsche Turbo’ decal affixed to the back of a Porsche AG product creates a buzz. Welcome then, the new Porsche Panamera Turbo. 

So what’s new? There’s more power, despite downsizing the V8 from 4.8 to 4.0 litres. The extra output is thanks to two new twinscroll turbochargers, which are now mounted centrally in the engine’s vee and, says Porsche, more responsive as a result. Cylinder deactivation – so eight cylinders become four on a light throttle – makes it more responsible, too, saving petrol and CO2. As does the fact that this engine weighs 9.5kg less than the old one.

Underneath the aluminium-clad body resides the VW Group’s MSB platform, sprouting double wishbones at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. On the Turbo, that’s all controlled by standard adaptive dampers and revised air suspension, which now contains three air chambers per strut instead of the normal two. This means extra cushioning and comfort. 

Panemera tubro web 1565

What's it like?

Holy moly. And if you think that’s for the performance, which, by the way is epic, you’re wrong. No, it’s for the way this thing rolls – literally.

Trundling along stunningly picturesque roads of the Cairngorms, the Panamera deals with the twists and ups and downs leagues better than its 1995kg should allow. Quite frankly, it is magnificent

In the suspension’s Normal mode, the body control is good, but as the road surface becomes more puckered and humpbacked, the dampers struggle to contain the car’s mass. So you select Sport Plus, and far from making the Panamera too stiff, the body’s excesses are curbed. The control is now stunning, even when all four wheels momentarily leave the ground, returning to earth again without bang or drama as the air springs and dampers dissipate the energy. And through all that, still it keeps the suppleness to absorb mid-bend ruts and ridges without flinching

Then there’s the front end. With the new optional four-wheel steering fitted - which at speeds above 31mph, stabilises the rear by turning the back wheels a few degrees in the same direction as the fronts – Porsche’s been able to quicken the steering. And faster steering, plus a more stable rear end, means it turns in and changes direction with the alacrity of a sniffer dog's snout, hot on the scent of contraband. 

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There are a couple of niggles. Just off the straight-ahead, the steering’s self-centring is a little strong for our taste, but push through this and it weights up beautifully. And rejoice: there is some sense of the road surface making its way up through the steering column.

The centimetre or so of dead travel in the brake pedal grates, but from then on the brakes are mighty and confidence inspiring. 

While all this is going on, the PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox’s changes are smooth and quick. But on the way in to corners, curses were muttered in our test car as it refused to change down until the revs had dropped unnecessarily low. 

Oh, and the performance. Sorry, nearly forgot about that. Pick-up is pretty good considering the turbos are boosting at 0.3 bar, and after an inevitable short delay, the torque thunders in at 2000rpm. After that, the power keeps your back pressed hard into the excellent sports seats until it’s time to change up.

It’s not overwhelming, though. Even on streamingly wet roads, you can turn off the traction control and enjoy some slip at the rear, before the new Porsche 4D Chassis Control shoves 50% of the torque to the front, preventing you becoming part ofthe scenery. One could argue that it’s a mite conservative and could let you play for a little longer.

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Should I buy one?

It’s a fantastic car. The ride is always on the sporting side, yet not jarringly so, even with our car’s optional 21in wheels. Which is fine, because you’re buying a GT car, right? And for crossing countries, this thing is stupefying. 

The new infotainment is impressive, but perhaps over complicated for a car – imagine trying to operate your iPad while driving, and you’re about there – but bar a few minor gripes, the drive is just about spot-on. It may be a comfortable four-seater and not a 2+2, but by crikey, the Porsche Panamera wears the iconic 'Turbo' badge well.

Porsche Panamera Turbo

Location Scotland; On sale Now; Price £113,075; Engine V8, 3996cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 542bhp at 5750-6000rpm; Torque 567lb ft at 1960-4500rpm; Kerb weight 1995kg; Gearbox 8-spd dual-clutch automatic; 0-62mph 3.8sec (3.6 sec with Sports Chrono Package); Top speed 190mph; Economy 30.1mpg (combined); CO2/BIK tax band 214g/km, 37%; Rivals Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11

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bowsersheepdog 12 December 2016

Can I have some more?

An estate version of this would be very desirable indeed. Take it straight back from the highest point of the roof into a lovely big load bay something akin to the size and shape of a Volvo 850R. That'd be a car to reckon with.
Suboji 11 December 2016

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yvesferrer 10 December 2016

"...The control is now

"...The control is now stunning, even when all four wheels momentarily leave the ground..."
Well! That is quite some claim! We have all heard of 'flying machines' but now Autocar DID fly one such?
Very poor writing, equally poor sub-editing! Takes the shine of rightful credibility for some people, shame!