What is it?
Ever since Porsche rejuvenated the ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ moniker for the modern era, hardcore GT-division wares aside, it’s been the derivative to have. No wonder you can buy the Porsche 911, Boxster, Cayman, Porsche Macan, Porsche Cayenne and this, the mighty Panamera, all in GTS form.
It was back in 2011 the recipe first made for a particularly desirable version of Porsche’s four-door saloon. Dropping the ride height, stoking the engine closer to range-topping Turbo heights - but retaining glorious natural aspiration - and sprinkling punchy black trim over the sloping hatchback body gave the finest-handling luxury saloon money could buy an added sweetness. Alcantara interior trim and a very reasonable showroom premium didn’t hurt, either.
But now the second-generation Porsche Panamera has come in for a GTS makeover, and while the story is familiar, bluntly speaking it does not whet the appetite in the same way.
For one thing the 4.0-litre 90-degree V8 is now turbocharged like every other engine in the Panamera range. Figures of 454bhp and 457lb ft, delivered almost uninterrupted over a mammoth sweep from 1800 to 6100rpm, point to fairly rampant everyday performance, but this is now a ‘mere’ Turbo motor with the boost dialled down.
Granted, it’ll do a WLTP-certified 27.4mpg combined compared to the old model’s 26.4mpg, which was a figure recorded on the absurdly optimistic NEDC test. Given the new model is not only larger and heavier but also 20bhp more powerful and 0.3sec quicker to 62mph, at 4.1sec, that’s some improvement.
But the GTS was always meant to about more than the numbers, and so it’s a surprise the mechanical modifications are also in short supply outside the engine bay.
The standard-fit air suspension sits the chassis no lower than for any other PDCC-equipped Panamera, though as is also the case for those cars, selecting Sport mode effects a further 18mm and 10mm squat at the front and rear axle respectively. You get thicker anti-roll bars, at least for the non-PDCC base model, but relatively few will buy with such austerity.
For PDCC cars with active anti-roll bars (and a torque-vectoring rear differential) the electronic actuator is instead ordered to massage quite a bit more tension into the setup when required. Damper rates are also up, but the existing hardware remains. The same applies to the sports exhaust, whose software is altered for a bit more muscle-car woofle. All in, the GTS feels a lot like an tuning exercise using code instead of compression testers.