Porsche makes great sports cars and that’s a fact. It’s why the company has experienced longevity and why the 911 is the world’s most recognisable ride. But Porsche knew it had more to offer the automotive world and developed the Cayenne SUV. The Cayenne has proved a sales success for the German firm but it’s still not enough. Now Porsche is filling out its range with an ambitious entry into the luxury sedan segment with the new Panamera. Rather than making a confined four-door coupe the Panamera is designed to be a true ‘gran turismo’ automobile, uncompromising in its cabin space and road trip practicality while still offering traditional Porsche driving characteristics. It sounds great on paper but has this demanding ideal been achieved? Car and SUV slid into the Panamera’s leather driver’s seat to seek out the answers.
For all the technology and power a modern Porsche has on offer it’s the styling that is always called into question before a key is turned or a spec sheet browsed. From when the first concept sketches were revealed critics have been shouting ‘ugly’ at Porsche’s first four-door sedan but in the flesh it’s not so simple. What’s noticed first is the car’s dominant size and presence; it’s a big machine that’s 1931mm wide, just 1418mm in height but almost 5 meters in length. The Panamera has typically elegant Porsche styling cues at the front and rear particularly around the light clusters and bumpers. However, view the vehicle in profile and elegance turns to awkwardness. While the front end is low the rear is high with a fastback look that is muscular but ultimately unbalances the Panamera. An upswept window-line and thick rear pillars help ease the odd overall shape but it’s the rear styling that will polarize opinion. Exterior quality is excellent with gleaming paintwork, tight shut-lines and 5-spoke 19-inch rims finishing the look. Love it or hate it, the Panamera is a true head-turner that offers the eye both familiarity and novelty the same glance.