It doesn’t feel that fast. Panameras seemingly don’t, even the chest-wig Turbo models, and being a hereditary condition, this afflicts the 4S as well. Yet judging by the rapidity with which those liquid crystal speedo characters click over, be in no doubt: it is rapid.
The 4S is quite a screamer, too, but as always you need to switch on the optional sports exhaust to exploit the acoustics. Then it barks pleasantly raspy tones, as opposed to the kind of spine-tinglingly fruity ones that would inspire you to poke about in the engine’s upper reaches.
You still will, though, because of the delicious power delivery. Peak torque may begin at 1750rpm, but it feels at its strongest beyond 3000rpm, then keeps building exponentially until the needle is pointing at the red zone. Add in the keen throttle response and it feels quite un-turbo-like, with a power delivery more akin to a naturally aspirated multi-valve motor.
The PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox is good in either auto or manual mode, darting swiftly and seamlessly between ratios. Only its software blots the copybook, by blocking manual downchanges until the revs fall inexplicably low. You sense nothing more than a laptop tweak would alleviate this little woe.
There are no such issues with the programming of Porsche’s new 4D-Chassis Control four-wheel drive system, though. Even if you do the incomprehensible and switch off all the driver assistance programmes on a sodden, challenging Scottish mountain road, it gives you a few degrees of twitch at the rear, after which it shuffles the power frontwards so you can rifle it out of corner. ‘Measured fun’ would be an apposite description.
That could apply to the charmed handling as well. The Panamera may weigh the equivalent of a mid-sized hippopotamus, but sticking with the critter theme, it changes direction with the agility of a housefly. That’s partly down to the Panamera’s new party trick of optional four-wheel steering, which aids rear-end stability at speed to the extent that Porsche can fit a quicker rack. And apart from a slightly digital feel around the straight-ahead, the wheel builds weight so effectively that you can use that lively front end with utter confidence. There’s enough feel to help you gauge the reaction between tread and road, too.
This lucid fluidity spills into the suspension. We thought the Turbo was good, but the 4S’s waif-like V6 affords it a bonus dimension of body control, albeit with the adaptive air-sprung set-up fitted. It’s supple and comfortable in its softest mode but has a tenacious, terrain-hugging resolve in its firmest setting. Too stiff? Not on your nelly; there’s enough vertical wheel control in hand to keep things resolutely stable, even on the crinkliest roads.