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Porsche Panamera S in India road test







Porsche’s innings in India has been met with moderate success. All their models have a virtue of sporty character but low on ergonomics since they are all based on sports car models. Classic example is the recently launched Porsche Cayenne and the high flying sedan, the Porsche Panamera S in India. The latter is the one that I am more interested in since this is the model that I am about to test now. Looking at the car, I felt that it would be befitting a sheikh in Dubai who would go racing on the weekends or on their Jumma. This is the car that I am going to be testing and it is a wonderful pleasure to have been involved in this endeavor which very few in the world would be able to have, that is not counting those lucky few millionaires and multi millionaires. Check on Road Price

Looks

Well, typically Porsche 911 influence reflects on the car right from the beginning. From a distance, not even a trained eye would be able to make out the difference between a Porsche 911 and a Porsche Panamera S in India. Well, the company says that the basic inspiration for the car was from its bread and butter 911 range. Its high set front wings, falling window line and the bonnet shut line are reminiscent of the 911. On a 2 door coupe, this would feel perfectly in sync however for a four door posh sedan, this looks a bit out of place. The head lamps have a huge gap between their placing panels. Don’t be alarmed and think this is an example of bad build quality. It is just a slot designed for better aerodynamics as well as water to seep in while the head lamp washers go about their job. Attention to detail shows in the fact that there is an option for cold or heated water to be thrown on the head lamps as part of their washing procedure. The latter especially should work for people living in India’s capital Delhi. The low bonnet line is so designed keeping in mind the pedestrian safety. The air dam is also a subtle affair like the others in its class and has divided horizontal slats with LED day time running lamps adorning it. The turn indicators are housed just above the day time running lamps.

The side profile also shows up the coupe life sloping roof line and the 18 inch multi spoke drilled alloy wheels. An interesting fact is that both the front as well as rear tyre configurations are different. The front one is the 255/45 ZR19 whereas the rear ones are 285/40 ZR19. Well, speaking of the tyres, there is no spare tyre but only a puncture kit. Wonder how many of the Porsche Panamera S owners in India would be repairing their tyres with the puncture kit.

The rear is the most disappointing aspect since from a distance, one wouldn’t be able to understand if this car is a four door one or a hatchback. It has a bubble gum back complemented by small LED tail lamps and a smallish boot aperture. There is a spoiler or a rear wing which rises automatically at speed. This aids in the aerodynamics department. The two tail pipes are an aural delight.

Interiors

In a Porsche Panamera S in India, one would be greeted by very sports car style low interiors. By low, I mean the seating position. This is even lower than what you would from the other sportier BMW 7 series. One has to literally ease themselves into the Alacantra leather seats. There are separate compartments for the driver, front passenger and the rear two passengers. Yes, you have heard it right. The Porsche Panamera S can seat only 4 passengers and this is due to high central tunnel running the length of the car from front to back. The point is that seats are way too comfortable that is once you seat yourself inside. May be some callisthenics classes would help you. The interior quality would definitely blow you away. It is nothing like what I have experienced so far. Not even in the Mercedes S class or even the BMW 7 series. It is closer to the Rolls Royce Ghost where everything is hand made. The central tunnel is full of buttons which may seem illogical considering that it rivals offer a central command system. However if you are buying a Porsche Panamera S, you would most certainly be a person who listens more to his heart rather than head. However I found myself quite comfortable with the layout and over the period of 2 hours got accustomed to them.

The 3 spoke steering wheel has the paddle shifts, the music controls and the cruise control functions on it. There is a large navigation as well as music system which is touch screen in its operation. The central console resembles that from a high end phone with the positioning of its controls. The chiseled magnesium alloy gear lever is also very handy to use. The dials are similar to that of the Porsche 911 however they are a bit more enhanced here. The dash board is slightly tilted towards the driver echoing that this is a driver centric car. Not a single plastic would feel out of place nor would you see any sort of cost cutting anywhere. Not that one expects any cost cutting from such an expensive saloon.

At the rear, the sloping roof doesn’t pose a problem since the seating is quite low and this enhances the head room. The leg room as well as the under thigh support are excellent and there is nothing lacking with the space inside except the big thing that this is a 4 seater. Claustrophobic people better avoid this car since the small rear windows coupled with the almost non existent rear windshield would make one throw up. Rear seat passengers are also pampered with the 4 zone automatic climate control system and also their own audio controls. The rear seats are adjustable as well and this adds to the convenience factor. The boot space is also quite average at 405 liters however the rear seats fold completely to liberate 1350 liters. The high loading lip however isn’t convenient to load in the luggage.

Handling and ride quality

Well, like any BMW, you can expect a Porsche to handle whatever be its size or girth. It obviously doesn’t have the suppleness of the Porsche Carrera however its only a matter of the right road for it, the car would shrink around the driver, kick its wheels and ditch all the girth that it possesses from its wide body. The Porsche Panamera S didn’t have all wheel drive with all the power going to the rear wheels. This makes the steering ultra light in city conditions whereas it weighs up nicely on the highway. However one would be quite content piloting a BMW 7 series in traffic conditions rather than this car. The reason is the low ride height of the car. Bikers can see eye to eye or in some cases eyeball with you when you are in this car. However caution has to be exercised when reversing since the rear low visibility enhances chances of scraping the rear bumper or better even the tail pipes. There are three ride and handling modes. Those are the sport, sport+ and the comfort modes. The car as it is rides on Porsche Active Suspension Management {PASM}. This enhances the ride height should one need to go over a particulary tall speed breaker. The ride height is enhanced by so much as 25 mm.

With all this cornering skills, one would rightly expect that the car would have a lumpy ride quality however surprise of surprises, the Porsche Panamera S rides very beautifully however that is achieved only in the Comfort mode. The only hitch is that the car feels unsettled at low speed rides. Once the speeds build up, because of the low height, the car feels very stable on the highway. This can also be attributed to the 4 wheels at the 4 corners of the chassis. Speaking of the chassis, it is composed of  active anti-roll bars and air springs. There are wide grades of magnesium, steel as well as aluminium used in the construction of the car’s underpinnings. The fenders, engine compartment lid, boot and even the four doors of the car are made of aluminium to save weight. Magnesium is used to make the door and window frames.

The steering wheel is also made of high quality silica. It is hydraulically assisted and has variable steering ratios.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Porsche Panamera S is available in India with only a single motor option as of now. The engine is the 4.8 liter V8 direct injection petrol which makes 400 Bhp and a potent 50.9 kgm of torque. The gearbox is also a 7 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts on the steering wheel. To make way for a better performance, the car features dry sump lubrication like a racer car, the front drive shafts under through the crankcase and not from under the engine. There is also a magnesium valve cover, lighter crankcase, air intake manifold with thin walls, connecting the engine and transmission are aluminium bolts and also aluminium camshaft adjusters.

There is an optional sports chrono package which enables to have a launch control in this car. Launch control essentially works in such a way that the car automatically skips gears while launching the car perfectly from 0-100 kmph. The 0-100 kmph by the way comes up in 5.7 seconds with the launch control whereas my colleague tested the car without launch control and it crossed the 0-100 kmph barrier in 5.8 seconds. The top speed of this car has been electronically limited to 283 kmph. Derestricted German autobahns have seen this car racing to 315 kmph. The engine is red lined at 7000 rpm and once engaged in the PASM sports+ mode, the engine lets each gear to race till the red line and then upshift to the next one. The essentially smooth gearbox also sometimes skips ratios when down shifting to make way for a better driving experience. Other than the exciting engine, the performance can also be attributed to the PDK or Porsche Dual Klutch. This dual clutch provides for lightning fast shifts. All this makes for a loud car but not so loud as to spoil its luxury car tag.

Bringing this car to a halt is handled by carbon ceramic brakes on all the 4 wheels along with the latest ABS, ESP, traction control, brake assist, brake booster and DTC. This car is at par on the safety gradient as well with the 3 point seat belts for all occupants along with built in anti whip lash aids. The head rests are also integrated ones. The front bumper is so designed keeping in mind pedestrian safety. There is also a radar assisted anti collision device, 6 air bags, anti roll package and the collapsible steering column.

Fuel efficiency may not mean much to buyers in this class and considering the fun on tap with this car. However just to be sure that we give our readers all what they want, I did check the average of this car to satisfy the “average kya hain?” minded people. The Porsche Panamera S returns 5.5 kmpl in the city and 11.2 kmpl on the highway. The improvement in the highway figures is due to the well spaced out gear ratios of the 7 speed gear box. The city figures would have been even more dismal had there not been the stop start technique. This system can be automatically turned off from the dash board however not many would be doing that since it saves a good 5-10 % of fuel in heavy traffic conditions.

Verdict

Senseless is what one would call the person buying the Porsche Panamera S. This is because of the low utility factor. However buyers in this segment deserve a sense of exclusivity and this, the car delivers in spades. Infact, it is more exclusive than even the Jaguar XF, forget the other German luxury car makers. But I did definitely get over its external looks after the 5 hours I spent with the car. Actually the exteriors didn’t matter much to me but the interiors did. They are a world class apart from what the other Germans have to offer. Materials used are of the highest quality, even higher than its German compatriots. Its performance is also mind blowing and handling is world class. Safety features are also top notch whereas the fuel efficiency is not too stellar. It does exhibit the hooligan nature when wanted and can also be driven sanely. Its high sticker price of Rs 1.4 crores {ex-showroom, Delhi} is a dampener though as is the far and few service outlets.

Porsche Panamera S specs

Length: 4971 mm
Width: 1934 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Wheelbase: 2923 mm
Ground Clearance: 150 mm
Minimum Turning Radius: 11.1 meter
Weight: 1745 kgs
Engine Type: 4.8 liter V8
Displacement: 4798 cc
Transmission: 7 speed auto with paddle shifts
Front brakes: Ventilated Ceramic Disc
Rear brakes: Solid Ceramic Disc with auto adjust
Steering Type: Hydraulic power assisted with variable ratios
Front Tyre Size: 245/50 ZR 18
Rear Tyre Size: 275/45 ZR 18

Number Of Doors: 4
Seating Capacity: Four
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 liters

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