Porsche test and development driver Lars Kern admits he was “a little bit confused” when his bosses told him they were planning a super-quick lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the new Panamera Turbo.
“Normally we do this kind of thing with the 911 or Boxster,” he says. “But the engineers were confident it was going to work.”
The first-generation Panamera Turbo S set a pretty swift benchmark of 7min 46sec, but Kern – who has been a Porsche driver for four years – wasn’t sure where he could make up more time.
Not least because the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 in the new Panamera Turbo develops 542bhp, whereas the old Turbo S had 562bhp.
“The existing lap felt good and fast and to begin with I had no idea where to find another eight seconds. The Panamera Turbo has less power, too... I thought to myself ‘this is going to be interesting’,” he says.
The pressure ramped up even further when he saw the car’s number plate bore the number ‘738’, a reference to the 7min 38sec target time that Porsche’s engineers wanted him to achieve – and which he hit exactly. Kern set a new benchmark for luxury saloons - admittedly a fairly niche lap record to set, but fairly impressive for a car of this type.