Despite the hype, the scoop pics and some judicious hints dropped over many months by Porsche, seeing the new saloon was quite a shock.

Porsche6 First, it was interesting to have it confirmed that this was indeed a Merc CLS and Maserati Quattroporte fighter, and nothing much to do with an Aston Rapide. Secondly, there are the interesting proportions of the car. Its width and lowness make ordinary exec saloons look like slices of a railway carriage.

Mind you, it's far from beautiful. Only a company with the brand power of Porsche could stretch its sports car cues quite so far. The low lines help, but you can't help thinking the rear looks too much like a Chrysler Crossfire, and that there are areas of, well, naivety about the thing.

It's imposing, not handsome. No doubts about the interior, though. My abiding impression of seeing the Panamera for the first time will always be of a superbly snug rear compartment lined on all sides with the most beautiful double-stitched tan leather, set off with top-quality metal details. This is a Bentley-level interior, the kind that makes things hard for everyone trying to sell a more expensive car.

No doubts about the dynamics either, although we didn't sample them. When Porsche engineers tell you a car will be exceptional to drive, you know you can believe it. Few big-note saloons will have an easy ride in tomorrow's market, but I reckon the Panamera's will be easier than most.