I’m currently at Stuttgart airport on the way back from a detailed technical briefing on the Porsche Panamera.
As luck would have it, it wasn’t just about seeing the car broken down to its component pieces (although that was fascinating).
The programme also included three quick laps of the test track at Porsche’s Development Centre in Weissach.
Firstly, the car is more convincing in the flesh than you might have expected. Secondly, this mighty machine was conceived, in Porsche’s own words, as ‘maximum width combined with minimum height’.
Thirdly, and perhaps most unexpectedly, the interior design and the interior packaging are just fantastic. A strict four-seater, the Porsche Panamera is very easy to get in and out of as well as having extraordinary amounts of head, shoulder and knee room.
Because Porsche has thought long and hard about the rear-seat passengers, the front seats have been designed to be as narrow as possible so the view forwards is as panoramic as possible. Despite the low roof and coupe profile, I didn’t feel the least bit hemmed in.
As for the car’s raw performance…well it was show stopping. The body feels immensely rigid (the Panamera platform is brand new and shares nothing with the Cayenne) and it carved around Weissach like something half its size.
But the car is not just about hardcore performance: Porsche is promising that the Panamera can shape-shift from super-refined cruiser to near-supercar with just a click of a button.
Listening to all this, I couldn’t help but think of the upcoming Jaguar XJ. It, too, is very long, very low and dramatically styled. Like the Panamera, it promises low-friction high-performance engines and lightweight construction. Jaguar is also looking to engineer a car that can go from cruiser to supercar in seconds.
This summer could see one of the most unexpected head-to-head tests of recent years: Porsche Panamera v Jaguar XJ. They look set to be remarkably similar concepts.