It's nice to report, then, that the Panamera GTS suits smaller, bumpier roads well enough, so it has a very respectable blend of ride and handling. Respectable, but not enthralling. Still, it’s a two tonne car. What do you expect?
The Panamera is outstanding on a motorway, has slick, linear steering everywhere (that element of it is genuinely very good) and covers poorer roads with trademark air-spring sproing and fine body control.
But it does feel wide, no matter how wieldy Porsche has made it. The four-wheel drive system remains rear-biased nearly all of the time, but you wouldn’t know on the road, where grip and traction are, in the dry, limitless to all rational extents. Although we did keep arriving at our destination a bit earlier than expected.
It's curious to drive this car in the same week that Jaguar confirmed it's going to stop making the XJ, though. The big Jaguar, in its fastest form, is similar in ethos to the Porsche but from another decade in its approach to interior technology. Yet we suspect it rides, steers and engages better on poor roads. A trait of where the two cars are developed, perhaps; Porsche needs to make a car in which you can sneeze at 180mph without it noticing.
Away from the handling, the Panamera's engine is strong (although an AMG unit is more thrilling), but its eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox doesn’t always make for truly relaxing progress, especially when combined with a stop-start system that compromises truly smooth deceleration to a standstill. A full automatic would be smoother, we reckon, plus there’s an occasional unnecessary downshift on the motorway when torque would do the job. Conversely, you’re inclined to want more control around town where the car prefers to lug it out when you wouldn’t, so you take to the paddles.
Inside, material quality is excellent and the huge digital displays, although requiring acclimitisation to navigate, have all you could need presented well, while there are hard buttons for the essentials.