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Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

The first Panamera was memorable to sit in. Its big, yet form-fitting, cabin was reminiscent of that of the Porsche Cayenne, except low-slung and therefore better for the business of driving.

The latest experience is familiar: the same gun-emplacement position, dictated by a chin-high scuttle and colossal centre console.

The rear seat infotainment screen is impressive, but the fact you can’t hook a smartphone up to it and watch Netflix seems like an opportunity missed

But the detail has been altered by what Porsche calls the ‘digitalisation’ of its cabins. Here the development puts two 7.0in high-resolution displays in the instrument cluster: the left-hand side delivering ‘Speed and Assist’ and the right ‘Car and Info’. Between the two is the rev counter, still pleasingly analogue.

The main touchscreen of the PCM infotainment system monopolises the dashboard.

The 12.3in display now extends the full width of the centre console and catapults the Panamera into the technology big league.

With the ignition off, you might think Porsche had used the display to tidy away the multitude of buttons that previously festooned the console, but it’s just the physical nature of the switches that has gone.

Turn the car on via a key-replacing knob and the console comes to life, revealing an array of touch-sensitive functions that nudge your fingertips with haptic feedback.

This isn’t immediately satisfying, but it’s not out of place next to the shift-by-wire gearlever and computerised air vents.

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The centre console looms just as big in the back, equipped with its own infotainment screen and HVAC panel. More importantly, the space around the two seats has improved and the near-claustrophobic cocooning sensation of the old model has lifted.

The rear is still snug for such a big car, but scallops taken from the lower roofline and the longer wheelbase ensure that adults are a little more comfortable.

The high-decked boot remains, but it’s big enough at 495 litres, and the 40/20/40 split seats flop forward to offer 1304 litres and a flat floor. Overall, it’s luxurious, high-tech, handsome, practical and indefinably sporting. Chalk up modern GT benchmark number one.

Qualitatively, the Porsche Communication Management system is very decent, if an acquired taste. Porsche has always endeavoured to keep the software sombre, grown-up and sophisticated, but that hasn’t always facilitated its ease of use.

This is perhaps its biggest overhaul yet, having been inflated to fill a vast display and furnished with a tile-shaped set of functions on the home screen.

Some extra fanciness has been absorbed, too, including useful features such as proximity sensors, Apple CarPlay and Porsche Connect, and less useful ones such as being able to write on the screen and twirl the map around with two fingers (we’re driving, remember?). It does the basics well, though.

The standard hi-fi comes with 150W and 10 speakers. For an additional £1022, our test car improved that to 710W and 14 speakers courtesy of Bose Surround Sound, making it a worthy upgrade. However, serious audiophiles might want to consider the 3D Burmester system that gets 1455W and an active subwoofer — and a price to match, at £4869.