I like you, so I won’t lie to you: I was really nervous to get behind the wheel of the 2017 Porsche Panamera 4S.
It’s not that I don’t trust Porsche’s engineering—if anything, the company’s reputation for excellence in steering, safety, and control was a source of comfort—but I mean, we were in the middle of Mexico, somewhere between Mexico City and Valle de Bravo, so these were unfamiliar roads. And the Panamera, in all its long-nosed beauty and fantastic speed, was intimidating.
Of course, as you might guess, my fears were left in the Mexican dust once I started driving. Whether on a windy highway going 110 kilometres per hour or weaving through a tiny town at a mere 30, the Panamera held its ground with impeccable precision and flair.
The four-door sports car packs a new twin-turbo engine in the 2017 4S: a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine with 440 horsepower. It has improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, along with being, quite simply, more powerful—and it’s a power that you can feel. It’s a power that I enjoyed feeling, a power both thrilling and subtle, like a little black dress. The vehicle comes equipped with all-wheel-drive and a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Then there is the 2017 Panamera Turbo, with a 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with 550 horsepower. Purrs like a kitten.
“We are about to write another thrilling chapter in Porsche history,” Porsche Latin America president and managing director George Wills said to a small group of us the night before we took to the roads. Because while the Panamera was first introduced in 2009, the 2017 version, in both its iterations, is a step above. It is sexy, it is understated, it is powerful. It is, I can say with full honesty, a pleasure to drive.
The sleek exterior includes a faster roof line, flared shoulders, an array of 84 LED lights in the main headlight projectors, an aluminum/steel body to keep things light yet sturdy, and 19-inch wheels on the 4S and 20-inch wheels on the Turbo. Available for inclusion is the handy Night Vision Assist, which helps evening driving thanks to a thermal imaging camera that detects humans and large animals. Inside the car, the plush, comfortable front seats (part-leather in the 4S or all-leather in the Turbo) have 18-way electric adjustments, including a few massage options, but the back seats see real improvement as well, with ample space to stretch out (and their own infotainment and temperature control).
And of course, in the realm of technology and digitization, Porsche continues to impress: two seven-inch displays are placed in the driver’s line of sight in the gauge cluster for quick viewing. The touchscreen centre console is as easy to handle as your smartphone (even allowing for the use of two fingers at once to rotate a map), and amazingly, it recognizes handwriting: simply use a finger to write where you want to go, and the system will understand and compute it, offering up the best route. In terms of comfort, the system allows the driver and front seat passenger to each adjust their own temperature and even the degree to which the heating vents are open. Going over a speed bump? A quick few taps on a certain part of the screen will raise the body of the car. And the available 150-watt, 10-speaker Bose sound system, operated via the touchscreen, as well as an optional Burmester 3D High-End Surround Sound System, make for a pure and crisp personal concert.
Then there is Porsche Car Connect, which can be controlled through a smartphone or Apple Watch, and includes roadside assistance, automatic emergency calls, and car location if it has been stolen. Further integration is found with the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) Connect app, which allows, among other things, for smartphone photos linked to GPS information to be selected and used as driving destinations. As Porsche is known for, this vehicle combines innovation, design, and functionality.
The Panamera has up to 1,304 litres of luggage volume, and the space is tempting to use up, to pack full and hit the road with, drive anywhere. Even Mexico. Take it from me.
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