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Porsche Panamera GTS review (2012 onwards)
Model: Porsche Panamera GTS, £91,239 (£94,922 as tested)
Bodystyle: five-door premium luxury coupé
Engine: 4.8-litre V8 with GTS modifications, 430hp @ 6,700rpm, 383lb ft @ 3,500rpm
Transmission: seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph in 4.5 secs, 178mph flat out
Efficiency: 25.9mpg, 256g/km CO2
What is it?
This is the baddest of the bad, the hardest of the hard - the Porsche Panamera that's set to strike fear dead straight into the heart of any rival super saloon. A car so tough and confident it eschews all this namby-pamby modern turbocharging nonsense for 4.8 litres of naturally aspirated V8, suitably tuned.
So while there are other big cars with more power - including Porsche's very own Panamera Turbo - the Panamera GTS is all about the experience; those three vital letters signifying a specially souped-up chassis as well as specific styling upgrades inside and out.
Finished in Carrara White with optional 20-inch "911 Turbo II" alloys, and accented at all times by the crackling, base-heavy potency of evil that is the standard sports exhaust, our GTS test car confirms the Porsche Panamera's got swagger. And then some.
Where does it fit?
The GTS joins the Panamera range above the 4S and below the aforementioned Turbo. The moniker is the short form for Gran Turismo Sport, and has previously appeared on 911s and Cayenne models as well, typically towards the end of a product cycle. This suggests the Panamera may be in line for a facelift.
Do not let that put you off. What we're dealing with here is a Porsche that's been doused with in-house hot sauce. The 400hp V8 from the S now sizzles with 430hp, thanks to the new intake system, valve springs, camshafts, ECU and exhaust. It revs higher; chassis tweaks sit the car 10mm lower to the ground.
Specced like this and sounding like this, the Panamera snaps necks like an angry ninja
The included Sports Chrono Package gives you the additional choice of Sport and Sport Plus modes, sharpening the throttle, stiffening the suspension and snapping even faster through the seven-speed PDK gear changes. The brakes are borrowed from the Panamera Turbo, and the wheels are 10mm further apart at the back.
Is it for you?
On top of which, almost all of the exterior chrome has been replaced with gloss black, neatly complementing the black finish to the side skirts, lower front bumper and active rear spoiler surround. Not to mention the matt-black quad tailpipes. Given the noise it makes we can't help thinking these should be bigger.
The final touch comes via daytime running lights that comprise four individual LEDs surrounding each headlight. Not subtle - it rather looks like you've got the vehicle in front under missile lock. Attention seekers apply here. Specced like this and sounding like this, the Panamera snaps necks like an angry ninja.
Seriously, it's like people have never even seen a five-door Porsche before. Park it up and it draws a crowd. The Audi S7, BMW M5 and Mercedes CLS 63 AMG may have more power, but the Panamera exudes a surprising amount of extra cachet. Enough, we reckon, to easily justify the £91,239 basic asking price.
What does it do well?
There is huge potential here for looking like an idiot - this is an obviously flash motor with brash detailing and a shouty voice. Fortunately, the Panamera GTS is the real deal: almost all the luxury of a limo but the heart of a hot rod. It makes you feel special from the moment you open the door.
Case in point: the GTS weighs 1,920kg, yet hits 62mph in just 4.5 seconds. This is a mathematical combination that does not appear to compute, but becomes instantly believable the moment you extend your right foot. This car may be loud, but it sure is very, very fast as well. Even so, motorway refinement is excellent, too.
More remarkable, however, is that something so big can feel so intimate to drive. No, you'll never forget you're at the wheel of a car nearly 2 metres wide and 5 metres long, but its responses are so deft and the feedback so intricate that you can still have a huge amount of fun. Chauffeurs be damned.
What doesn't it do well?
The Panamera has always had a kind of pendulous motion to the way it changes direction, and this holds true for the GTS, despite its bespoke chassis. We'd argue it's a character trait, but if you don't like it, amp up all the settings - via one simple prod of the Sport Plus button - and the swaying diminishes significantly.
Raid the options list to add the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (active anti-roll) and the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (even sharper turn-in yet greater stability), and you'll end up at another level higher still. But neither was fitted here; our Cayenne GTS first drive gives you some idea of what they can do.
At this point you're probably expecting us to say the ride quality is rubbish - especially given the upgrade to 20-inch alloys from the standard 19s. Sorry to disappoint, but not a bit of it. With air suspension in addition to adaptive damping, we could comfortably cruise around in Sport Plus at all times.
What is it like to live with?
Sitting all slab-like and still, it's easy to imagine a lumbering behemoth. But such suspicions disappear as soon as you start to move. The GTS has absolutely all the performance it needs to make a vivid impression on both ardent enthusiasts and disparaging sceptics. But it's never aloof; it always wants to get involved.
Better yet, your passengers are unlikely to be disappointed. Part of the trouble with the opposition is that they're all so ordinary inside; whereas the Panamera - rising centre console bedecked with switches, cocoon-like roofline, impeccable quality - seems intent on taking your breath away. Alcantara is so sexy, no?
Porsche claims 25.9mpg combined with 256g/km CO2 emissions
And the boot's big enough for all the luggage. Just a shame the active rear wing - also acquired from the Panamera Turbo - rattles whenever you slam the lid. You'll forgive this minor foible once you've spotted it in action, though, moving up and outwards into the airflow at speed like a bird of prey stretching its wings.
How green is it?
As if 430hp and 1,920kg weren't enough to contend with, the Panamera GTS is also all-wheel drive. This is good news for grip levels - and it doesn't really detract from the car's dynamic agility, as you can see in the photos - but it means yet more drag on the drivetrain, reducing efficiency.
Who are we kidding? If you're seriously considering this car, or any of its rivals, then you surely don't give a hoot about the fuel economy. Although come to think of it, when you consider what we're dealing with here it's actually pretty good: Porsche claims 25.9mpg combined with 256g/km CO2 emissions.
The 383lb ft of torque, stop-start and that PDK 'box - which copes just fine on its own, though it's hard to resist those gorgeous metal paddleshifters - all help make this much more realistic than we'd anticipated. A figure of25mpg+ is actually attainable if you're taking things easy. Expect low teens on days when you're not.
Would we buy it?
Hell, yes, we'd buy it - the Porsche Panamera GTS is not only a fantastically honed package from the driver's seat, it offers a real sense of occasion for passengers as well. With the flexibility to deliver both luxury and exceptional performance, this is one big car that's truly special.
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