Porsche Panamera: from the ground up

Date:5 January 2014 Tags:, ,

The way Porsche tell it, their design process starts with the idea of a sports car. From there, it develops in the intended direction – sedan, SUV, roadster, whatever.

We can’t wait for a Porsche bakkie.

Seriously, though, the Panamera translates the Porsche sporty heritage seamlessly into big, premium sedan territory. Yes, the Porsche styling cues may translate somewhat uneasily – though of course that’s a personal thing – but in terms of dynamics there’s no question about it: this is a car you want to drive, not be driven in. That certainly came across clearly as we cruised the Cape Winelands’ sinuous mountain passes. From the discreetly muscular powertrain to the superb body control and matchless steering wheel, the Panamera rewards the driver like few big cars – in fact, like few cars, period. And you know the way that some big cars seem to shrink around the driver, becoming more compact and sporty? The Panamera… well, it feels big. Yet it always feels sporty.

Still, in the premium segment of the market it pays to keep your eye on the ball. Performance is just part of the overall package, which leans heavily on luxury and refinement. With that in mind, Panamera developments include hybrid derivatives, Executive long-wheelbase versions, a new three-litre biturbo V6 engine and new advanced technologies that can halve fuel consumption. All the new models have better fuel economy, and with the exception of the diesel, higher output than before. A new, more powerful diesel engine was due early 2014.

Gearing reinvented
All models equipped with the 7-speed Porsche PDK double clutch transmission (except the GTS) use “virtual intermediate gears” to improve fuel economy and comfort. The virtual gears help keep engine revs relaxed when cruising around up to about 80 km/h, if shifting to the next higher gear would drop revs below the engine’s lower rev limit.

How does it work?
The transmission controller engages adjacent gear levels, controls both clutches for defined slip and transmits the drive power. Accelerate, and the transmission smartly downshifts to the suitable gear. The PDK’s oil bath clutches ensure that this function is essentially wear-free. In addition, the PDK system has a coasting function: during deceleration, the clutches are disengaged, the engine idles and the far coasts. It’s claimed to boost improve fuel economy significantly, especially during motorway trips.

Engine V6 3,6 petrol; V6 3,6 diesel; V8 4,8
Output 228 kW – 382 kW
Economy 8,4 – 10,3 L/100 km
Performance 0-100 4,1 s (V8 biturbo)
Price from R900 000

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