Quick Spin: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS
Hard-core sports car or high-end luxury sedan? Yes.
Last week, James Tate had a new Porsche 911 Cabriolet in his driveway. Thanks to an act of God, he now has another Porsche. Here’s his quick spin with the Panamera GTS, the sportiest Porsche sedan on sale.
Since its introduction, the Porsche Panamera has raised controversy among automotive enthusiasts of all kinds. As with cilantro, the Panamera’s instant love/hate responses seem almost genetic.
The Panamera GTS sits between the Panamera S and the almighty Panamera Turbo. The GTS offers a 30-horsepower bump from the standard 400, and the only drivetrain option is permanent all-wheel drive. With the Turbo S and Panamera Hybrid having been added earlier this year, it’s fair to speculate whether the GTS is even necessary in the lineup.
But after a week with the 2013 GTS, we have to admit it’s brilliant. In fact, the Panamera GTS is the best luxury sport sedan on the market today.
Tame the racetrack, conquer the highway: If there’s another vehicle as capable both at a track day and on the highway hauling the kids and groceries home, we’d like to see it. With the Sport Plus setting engaged, the GTS feels like a small, lithe sports car -- a very angry, small, lithe sports car. In day-to-day traffic, ride quality is excellent, and the knowledge of its capabilities gives you a certain internal happiness.
Great interior or greatest interior? Alcantara – a faux suede – is really nice. Having the option of Alcantara everything in the spacious interior of the Panamera GTS just adds to the joys. This is one of the best interior spaces in the business. Four-zone climate control, power adjustable rear seats and a clever center console in both the front and the rear give a sense of personal space without alienating anyone in the cabin. The optional Burmester stereo is optional in name only — you must have it. It is flat-out incredible. Fit and finish are superb.
Best. Steering Wheel. Ever. Yes, the steering wheel gets its own shout-out. The Panamera GTS steering wheel looks and feels right. It is simply the best steering wheel ever made, and every car should have it. Especially one wrapped in delicious Alcantara. Not that we tasted it. That would just be weird.
How much? Porsches are wonderful things, but wonderful comes with an awfully steep price tag these days. Our Panamera GTS came out to just over $147,000 as tested. There are a lot of world-class cars that can be bought with that kind of money, so it’s very hard to justify spending that much on the GTS – or the Turbo and Turbo S.
Still shaped like a Panamera: Aside from the jaw-dropping price tag, arguments against the Panamera are pretty subjective. People’s Exhibit A however, often is the awkward design of the Panamera body itself. The bubblicious roofline does the Panamera no favors, though in person one warms to the design surprisingly quickly. The Sport Turismo Concept (aka the Porsche Wagon), should it ever see production, could make for an easier-to-love design while also being insanely cool. Because it’s a Porsche station wagon.
Quick versus fast: The 2013 Panamera GTS is a very specific car for a very specific driver. It doesn’t feel as brutishly fast as, say, the new Audi S8. It’s when one gets the V8 into its higher revs that the beauty of the thing emerges. Inside the GTS is a racer, and racers want to be flogged like the naughty things that they are. The Panamera GTS wants to be thrown into corners and given apexes to cut, and it wants to tackle those challenges quickly. “Quick” versus “fast” is an age-old debate, but one that does come up when considering the GTS and the deep water its near-$150,000 price puts it in.
True sport cars have a manual transmission!
One need not look further than a Holden SSV Z-series, sold as the Cadillac CTS-V sportwagon:
And one thing the Holden / Cadillac offers is a V8 with a manual transmission. Porsche does not even have it.
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