The Panamera Turbo S is the supersaloon we always knew Porsche could make. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Porsche Panamera Turbo S packs a massive 570PS from its 4.8-litre V8, deployed through all four wheels via a seven-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission. Yes, it costs over £130,000, but you get a 192mph bullet of a GT car with ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension, a Bose stereo and the ability to rocket to 62mph in just 3.8 seconds. It's quite the piece of work.
Many would find it hard to believe that after the reception the first generation Panamera received back in 2009, it would take Porsche more than four years to revise it. Rather than be panicked into making changes, the Weissach company has instead bided its time. It's waited for the Panamera's styling to grow a certain familiarity and, as is its wont, has largely concentrated on the engineering rather than aesthetics. It's had a lot on its plate in the last four years. There's been a new 911, new Cayenne, Boxster and Cayman models, the development of the astonishing 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar, not to mention the Macan compact SUV. Now that the Panamera has received a good going over, there's not one car from Porsche's 2010 product line that's still available. The Panamera's made respectable numbers for Porsche. In 2013, it sold half as many units as the 911, which more than justifies its position. It's never going to be one of the biggest sellers of the supersaloons; it's just too niche in its appeal for that. At the top of the Panamera range is the model that makes all the biggest numbers, the awesome Turbo S.
Time was when the Turbo model was the big hitter in any particular Porsche model line up. Nowadays that's reserved for the Turbo S. Where the Turbo-badged Panamera makes a hefty 520PS, this S model ups the ante of the V8 by another 50PS. It's not just a few lines of code in the ECU either. A pair of uprated turbochargers with larger compressors are fitted to the Turbo S. In addition, the injection pressure has been increased by 20 bar to 140 bar. Porsche has also fitted pistons made from a new aluminium alloy and specially coated piston rings. Torque increases by 50Nm to 750Nm between 2,250 and 5,000rpm, with a transient overboost function plumping that up to 800Nm. Ceramic brakes are fitted to every Turbo S. The Sport Chrono package is also fitted as standard, and coordinates the drivetrain and chassis configuration. The overboost function is activated in Sport and Sport Plus mode as well as during kickdown in Normal mode. The Launch Control function guarantees face-warping acceleration off the line, marshalling engine revs, traction control and the settings of the PDK twin-clutch gearshift. Courtesy of a reworked gear shifting strategy, PDK fires the changes through the seven speeds even more rapidly, accelerating the Turbo S from 0 to 62mph in 3.8 seconds and, ultimately, onto a top speed of 192mph. Fast enough for you?
Design and Build
The latest facelift has sharpened up the previously somewhat bloated look of the Panamera and the Turbo S model builds on this tautening with the fitment of purposeful 20-inch 911 Turbo II wheels, which are not only larger but also significantly wider than the standard wheels on other models. The colour palette also gets Palladium, offered solely for the Turbo S. Drop inside and you'll find plenty of space for four. You'll find even more rear legroom if you opt for the long wheelbase car, which tacks another 150mm into the wheelbase but unfortunately, there don't seem to be any plans to bring that car to the UK. The Turbo S gets two-tone leather trim, an interior package in dark burl walnut, red colour contrasts and embossed Porsche crests on the front headrests. The 14-way adjustable powered front seats can be combined with the memory package which comprises seat surface extension as well as lumbar support and electrical steering column adjustment. Both the front and rear seats feature seat heating as standard. And there's a generous rear leg and head room for two tall passengers. There's plenty of space in the boot as well, with 445-litres of luggage space.
Market and Model
The Turbo S is priced at just over £131,000, which is around £21,000 above the price of the 'normal' Turbo. That's paying around 22 per cent extra for slightly less than 10 per cent more power. Porsche must be making huge margins on this model, but it will always appeal to those who just want the fastest and most powerful car in the range. Still, it's not just the engine that Porsche has amped up. You also get the special wheels and more interior equipment as well. Standard features include PTM all-wheel drive, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with adaptive air suspension, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, a full leather interior, automatic climate control, Bi-Xenon headlights, the Porsche Communication Management satellite navigation system, DAB digital radio with Bose Surround Sound, a Bluetooth telephone module with cordless handset, front and rear seat heating, rear passenger side airbags and a universal audio interface offering MP3 connectivity. There's also a two year Porsche Car Connect contract incorporating the Porsche Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) and a sophisticated vehicle security package approved to Thatcham Category 5. Customers also get the chance to explore the potential of their new car by participating in a complimentary course at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone.
Cost of Ownership
Granted, you don't buy a 570PS behemoth V8 supersaloon and expect it to sip fuel, but the Panamera Turbo S does better than you might expect. If that is, you expect absolutely catastrophic economy. Porsche claims identical numbers to the Turbo, namely 27.7mpg on the NEDC combined cycle, but our experience with the Panamera Turbo was that we couldn't lift it out of the teens, no matter how feather-footed we were. Pedalled with a bit more enthusiasm, it would frequently drop into single figures, so don't expect something for nothing here. If you want speed and economy, try the Panamera S E-Hybrid. Panamera depreciation has thus far been a bit of a mixed bag to date. The more you spend on one, the bigger percentage you tend to lose, which doesn't bode too well for this Turbo S flagship. The diesel is always going to be the model for those who want to hedge their bets, but if you can afford to fuel and insure a Turbo S, perhaps depreciation isn't such a massive issue.
While we will accept that the Turbo S is probably the least relevant model to most Panamera buyers, it's nevertheless got a whole bundle of charisma that isn't instantly apparent. If you can afford the bills, you'll probably love the sheer depth of ability offered by the Turbo S. It's a Gran Turismo par excellence, offering devastating pace combined with comfort, agility and luxury. You might think a Bentley Continental GT offers more refinement, or that a Maserati Quattroporte is more stylish or that a BMW M6 Gran Coupe is a better handler and you might well have a point. None is quicker than the Panamera though and none combine the disparate qualities of a GT car to quite such effect. Styling updates notwithstanding, the Panamera's still not a particularly pretty car. Give it a chance though. It's one of those vehicles that impresses over time. You gradually begin to key into what Porsche has tried to achieve and that admiration grows with familiarity. With the Turbo S you have a lot to grow into.