It wasn't hard to fall for the Porsche Panamera last summer when I blasted down the autobahn toward Frankfurt airport at 100 mph. Yet when you drive it in southeast Michigan, where the twin-turbo V-8 engine obliterates every speed limit before you can say, "Porsche Panamera Turbo," you focus less on the car's sportiness and more on how it works as a luxury sedan.
There's no denying that a Carmine Red Porsche ($3140 for this color) with black wheels ($3375 a set) and a color-matched, car-shaped key ($335) makes a strong impression. "#drool" wrote one friend on Instagram, while another made sure to wave at the neighbors as we drove past. And as good as the Porsche Panamera looks, it drives even better. The engine has a tidal wave of power and, fortunately, the carbon-ceramic brakes ($9210) have unbelievable stopping power. Criticize the idea of a Porsche sedan all you want, but this 4343-pound car is fun to drive.
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For all that, I found myself much of the time treating the Porsche Panamera as an executive sedan, ferrying passengers around. With ample rear leg- and headroom, luxurious powered rear seats ($2125), powered rear window shades ($490), and a tinnitus-inducing Burmester sound system ($4690), the Porsche Panamera works very well as a luxury machine. Each of the four occupants has an individual temperature control, and can choose whether their seat is heated or cooled. Unless you push the Sport Plus switch, it's a quiet car that slips away from a stop in second gear so as not to surprise passengers with any undue acceleration. The air suspension handles road imperfections commendably considering the car's 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires. It's not as sublime as, say, a Mercedes S-Class, but you'll hear no complaints from friends riding shotgun.
Sure, we could bemoan the Porsche Panamera's awkwardly shaped rump, the fact that a 520-hp sedan is near pointless outside the autobahn network, the submarine-like rear visibility, and the lofty price tag. Or we could simply sit back and appreciate that this four-door Porsche is a fabulous way to get around town.
2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo
Price As Tested:$194,685
Engine:4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8
Transmission:7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Cargo Capacity (seats up/down):15.3/44.1 cubic feet
Fuel Economy:15/24 mpg (city/highway)
0 to 60 mph:3.7 sec (mfr est.)
Top Speed:189 mph
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