Quick Ride: The Porsche Panamera Has Landed
The Venue: Monterey, Calif; The Verdict: Mission Accomplished
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but really appreciating an automobile requires seeing it in the flesh. Such is the case with the Porsche Panamera, a car that doesn’t photograph especially well but comes to life in person. Suddenly, its lines flow better, the family resemblance becomes more apparent, and even the oft-criticized rear-end somehow makes more sense.
I got a chance to check it out firsthand at last weekend’s Monterey Historic races and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where the “No Substitute” sedan enjoyed nonstop attention from both the car-crazy crowd and hardened industry types alike. It looks better in person, yes, but being a Porsche, the real question is: How did it drive?
Without a doubt, there are few (if any) true four-door, four-seaters that can transport a car full of people – including, in our case, four 6-footers – as quickly and comfortably as this thing. On the track, not only does the chassis feel surprisingly composed and balanced right up to the limit, it also feels like it weighs about 1,000 pounds less than it does. In real-world driving, the experience of effortless speed continues: like the Boxster and Cayman, driving the Panamera doesn’t require the same level of attention as the 911 or Cayenne. Instead, you simply accelerate, brake, steer and enjoy. Despite an extra pair of seats and funky hatchback configuration (both highly functional), the Panamera does indeed deliver the goods in the form of a strong connection between car and driver, while its cabin exudes a level of style and quality far beyond anything currently in the Porsche stable.
Is all this easy performance and cushy cabin goodness enough to overcome a styling aesthetic sure to leave a few scratching their heads? If you’re a serious fan of sexy coupe-like sedans such as the Aston Martin Rapide and new Jaguar XJ, then probably not. But if you need to cart four full-size adults and their gear around at speed, want luxury SUV space without the heft, love high-performance wagons or simply must have the latest Porsche, then the answer is easy: Give it a (very fast) go.
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