Finance Porsche fixed the biggest problem with the Panamera sedan and now it's simply amazing

  • Published:

The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo has 550 horsepower and costs $150,000.

Our Porsche Panamera Turbo test car. play

Our Porsche Panamera Turbo test car.

(Hollis Johnson)

  • The 2018 Porsche Panamera is Business Insider's 2017 Car of the Year.
  • The Panamera has always been amazing to drive, but people hated the looks.
  • Porsche restyled the second-generation Panamera, fixing the one thing that prevented the original from reaching greatness.
  • The base Panamera starts at $85,000 while our loaded Turbo test car cost $180,000.


From the beginning, the Porsche Panamera has been one of the best sports sedans on the market. But the Panamera's odd styling kept it out of the car geek hall of fame.

What I'm referring to is the weird rear hatch that's too tall to be a fastback or a coupe, but too low-slung to be a wagon.

The Panamera's ungainly looks can be attributed to the need for all Porsches to look, well, like a Porsche. In plain terms, all cars bearing the company's brand need to be instantly recognizable. That means they've all got to look like a 911. It's both a blessing and a curse.

Instant brand recognition is worth its weight in gold for a car company. However, for Porsche, that need for conformity has resulted in some truly odd looking cars. Another example would be the original Cayenne SUV, which the former hosts of "Top Gear" described as a Porsche that backed into a shed and got stuck.

Looks aside, the first generation Panamera was generally regarded as one of the finest performance sedans money can buy. The last first-gen Panamera GTS Business Insider tested blew us away with its luxurious cabin, pin-point-precise handling, and gutsy V8 engine.

In November 2016, Business Insider became the first journalists to drive the second generation Panamera in North America, after getting behind the wheel of a Panamera Turbo in New York.

Recently, Porsche dropped off another Panamera Turbo for us to take an extended look at its new high-performance luxury sedan. Here's what it's like to drive.

The new Porsche Panamera Turbo starts at $150,000 while our option-laden test car came out to about $180,000. The base Panamera starts at a more affordable $85,000.

Here it is! The new Porsche Panamera! Even though it's built on VW Group's new Porsche-developed MSB platform, you won't mistake for anything other than a Panamera.

Here it is! The new Porsche Panamera! Even though it's built on VW Group's new Porsche-developed MSB platform, you won't mistake for anything other than a Panamera. play

Here it is! The new Porsche Panamera! Even though it's built on VW Group's new Porsche-developed MSB platform, you won't mistake for anything other than a Panamera.

(Hollis Johnson)


See the resemblance!

See the resemblance! play

See the resemblance!

(Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider)


And have they changed that controversial rear end?

And have they changed that controversial rear end? play

And have they changed that controversial rear end?

(Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider)


Yes, they have. Porsche increased the rake of the rear windshield, creating a smoother coupe look.

Yes, they have. Porsche increased the rake of the rear windshield, creating a smoother coupe look. play

Yes, they have. Porsche increased the rake of the rear windshield, creating a smoother coupe look.

(Hollis Johnson)


Smooth and sleek.

Smooth and sleek. play

Smooth and sleek.

(Hollis Johnson)


In addition, the rear fascia was redesigned to mimic that of the company's current generation sports cars.

In addition, the rear fascia was redesigned to mimic that of the company's current generation sports cars. play

In addition, the rear fascia was redesigned to mimic that of the company's current generation sports cars.

(Hollis Johnson)


But first some, history.

But first some, history. play

But first some, history.

(Porsche)

Although the Panamera was the first Porsche sedan to make it into production when it arrived in showrooms for the 2010 model year, the company had actually been mulling over the idea for some time. More than two decades ago, Porsche built the 989 prototype to be a sports car for the whole family. The 989 was powered by a 4.2-liter, 350-horsepower V8 engine, and Porsche claimed it could hit a top speed of 173 mph.



The 989's DNA is strong.

The 989's DNA is strong. play

The 989's DNA is strong.

(Porsche)

The car was scheduled to enter production by 1995 but never made it. During the early 90s, Porsche had fallen on hard times and was on the brink financial ruin. As a result, the 989 was axed. Instead, Porsche turned its attention to the Boxster and the 996— the first water-cooled version of its iconic 911 sports car. Not all was lost. As you can see, a lot of the 989's DNA made it into the 996.



In the marketplace, the Panamera competes directly with other ultra-premium performance sedans like the Aston Martin Rapide S,...

In the marketplace, the Panamera competes directly with other ultra-premium performance sedans like the Aston Martin Rapide S,... play

In the marketplace, the Panamera competes directly with other ultra-premium performance sedans like the Aston Martin Rapide S,...

(Aston Martin)


...Maserati Quattroporte, and...

...Maserati Quattroporte, and... play

...Maserati Quattroporte, and...

(Maserati)


...Its corporate cousin, the Bentley Flying Spur.

...Its corporate cousin, the Bentley Flying Spur. play

...Its corporate cousin, the Bentley Flying Spur.

(Bentley)


Under the hood, the Panamera Turbo packs a serious punch.

Under the hood, the Panamera Turbo packs a serious punch. play

Under the hood, the Panamera Turbo packs a serious punch.

(Hollis Johnson)


Our Turbo test car came with 550 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 engine.

Our Turbo test car came with 550 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 engine. play

Our Turbo test car came with 550 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 engine.

(Hollis Johnson)


The Panamera is also available with a choice of two V6 engines, at 330 horsepower and 440 horsepower. There are also two performance hybrid powertrains to choose from, one with 462 horsepower and another with 680 ponies.

The Panamera is also available with a choice of two V6 engines, at 330 horsepower and 440 horsepower. There are also two performance hybrid powertrains to choose from, one with 462 horsepower and another with 680 ponies. play

The Panamera is also available with a choice of two V6 engines, at 330 horsepower and 440 horsepower. There are also two performance hybrid powertrains to choose from, one with 462 horsepower and another with 680 ponies.

(Hollis Johnson)


All Panamera's come standard with a new 8-speed twin-clutch PDK transmission while all but the base Panameras come with all-wheel-drive.

All Panamera's come standard with a new 8-speed twin-clutch PDK transmission while all but the base Panameras come with all-wheel-drive. play

All Panamera's come standard with a new 8-speed twin-clutch PDK transmission while all but the base Panameras come with all-wheel-drive.

(Hollis Johnson)


According to Porsche, our Panamera Turbo can hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph. While we didn't do any meter performance testing, those number sound on point.

According to Porsche, our Panamera Turbo can hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph. While we didn't do any meter performance testing, those number sound on point. play

According to Porsche, our Panamera Turbo can hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph. While we didn't do any meter performance testing, those number sound on point.

(Hollis Johnson)


Step inside its cabin and be prepared to be wowed. The Panamera marks the debut of the all-new Porsche Advanced Cockpit which replaces traditional buttons and knobs with touchscreen and touch-sensitive surfaces.

Step inside its cabin and be prepared to be wowed. The Panamera marks the debut of the all-new Porsche Advanced Cockpit which replaces traditional buttons and knobs with touchscreen and touch-sensitive surfaces. play

Step inside its cabin and be prepared to be wowed. The Panamera marks the debut of the all-new Porsche Advanced Cockpit which replaces traditional buttons and knobs with touchscreen and touch-sensitive surfaces.

(Hollis Johnson)


The Panamera's cabin is large and roomy, something to be expected of 16 and a half foot long, 4,400-pound luxury sedan. The interior is covered in fine leather while the metal and carbon fiber accents give a premium luxury feel without compromising its sporting DNA.

The Panamera's cabin is large and roomy, something to be expected of 16 and a half foot long, 4,400-pound luxury sedan. The interior is covered in fine leather while the metal and carbon fiber accents give a premium luxury feel without compromising its sporting DNA. play

The Panamera's cabin is large and roomy, something to be expected of 16 and a half foot long, 4,400-pound luxury sedan. The interior is covered in fine leather while the metal and carbon fiber accents give a premium luxury feel without compromising its sporting DNA.

(Hollis Johnson)


In front of the driver is Porsche's signature center analog tachometer flanked by a pair of seven-inch digital displays.

In front of the driver is Porsche's signature center analog tachometer flanked by a pair of seven-inch digital displays. play

In front of the driver is Porsche's signature center analog tachometer flanked by a pair of seven-inch digital displays.

(Hollis Johnson)


In addition, the Panamera is loaded with a host of driver's assistance including adaptive cruise control, traction management systems, adjustable driving modes, active aerodynamics, lane change assist, and even night vision.

In addition, the Panamera is loaded with a host of driver's assistance including adaptive cruise control, traction management systems, adjustable driving modes, active aerodynamics, lane change assist, and even night vision. play

In addition, the Panamera is loaded with a host of driver's assistance including adaptive cruise control, traction management systems, adjustable driving modes, active aerodynamics, lane change assist, and even night vision.

(Hollis Johnson)


The Panamera also features Porsche's new LED Matrix headlights.

The Panamera also features Porsche's new LED Matrix headlights. play

The Panamera also features Porsche's new LED Matrix headlights.

(Hollis Johnson)


The center stack is dominated by a massive 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen. It's running the latest version of the company's Porsche Communications Management infotainment system.

The center stack is dominated by a massive 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen. It's running the latest version of the company's Porsche Communications Management infotainment system. play

The center stack is dominated by a massive 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen. It's running the latest version of the company's Porsche Communications Management infotainment system.

(Hollis Johnson)


The PCM system is a major leap forward for the German sportscar maker. It marks a major improvement in terms of capability and usability over the company's previous infotainment system.

The PCM system is a major leap forward for the German sportscar maker. It marks a major improvement in terms of capability and usability over the company's previous infotainment system. play

The PCM system is a major leap forward for the German sportscar maker. It marks a major improvement in terms of capability and usability over the company's previous infotainment system.

(Hollis Johnson)


In fact, PCM is really the nerve center for the entire car with controls for everything from the Panamera's active aerodynamics to...

In fact, PCM is really the nerve center for the entire car with controls for everything from the Panamera's active aerodynamics to... play

In fact, PCM is really the nerve center for the entire car with controls for everything from the Panamera's active aerodynamics to...

(Hollis Johnson)


... Its climate control at your finger tips.

... Its climate control at your finger tips. play

... Its climate control at your finger tips.

(Hollis Johnson)


You even control the car's air vent via the touchscreen.

You even control the car's air vent via the touchscreen. play

You even control the car's air vent via the touchscreen.

(Hollis Johnson)


It features full Apple CarPlay integration and is equipped with connect app capabilities.

It features full Apple CarPlay integration and is equipped with connect app capabilities. play

It features full Apple CarPlay integration and is equipped with connect app capabilities.

(Hollis Johnson)


The PCM delivers everything from full weather reports to...

The PCM delivers everything from full weather reports to... play

The PCM delivers everything from full weather reports to...

(Hollis Johnson)


... Detailed information on local events to...

... Detailed information on local events to... play

... Detailed information on local events to...

(Hollis Johnson)


... Information on flights at your local airport.

... Information on flights at your local airport. play

... Information on flights at your local airport.

(Hollis Johnson)


Overall, the Panamera's new infotainment system is a success. It's quick, responsive, and packed with features. However, the system is complicated to use. It's an unfortunate byproduct of Porsche trying to deliver so much functionality in such a small amount of real estate.

Overall, the Panamera's new infotainment system is a success. It's quick, responsive, and packed with features. However, the system is complicated to use. It's an unfortunate byproduct of Porsche trying to deliver so much functionality in such a small amount of real estate. play

Overall, the Panamera's new infotainment system is a success. It's quick, responsive, and packed with features. However, the system is complicated to use. It's an unfortunate byproduct of Porsche trying to deliver so much functionality in such a small amount of real estate.

(Hollis Johnson)


Another portion of the Porsche Advanced Cockpit is a touch panel center console. In a major departure from the first-gen Panamera's festival of buttons, the second gen's center console is virtually devoid of switchgear. Unlike previous applications of touch panels by other car makers, Porsche has managed to make this work. The controls are intuitively laid out and precise enough under most driving conditions.

Another portion of the Porsche Advanced Cockpit is a touch panel center console. In a major departure from the first-gen Panamera's festival of buttons, the second gen's center console is virtually devoid of switchgear. Unlike previous applications of touch panels by other car makers, Porsche has managed to make this work. The controls are intuitively laid out and precise enough under most driving conditions. play

Another portion of the Porsche Advanced Cockpit is a touch panel center console. In a major departure from the first-gen Panamera's festival of buttons, the second gen's center console is virtually devoid of switchgear. Unlike previous applications of touch panels by other car makers, Porsche has managed to make this work. The controls are intuitively laid out and precise enough under most driving conditions.

(Hollis Johnson)


There is also a duplicate set of touch screens and touch panels for the rear seat.

There is also a duplicate set of touch screens and touch panels for the rear seat. play

There is also a duplicate set of touch screens and touch panels for the rear seat.

(Hollis Johnson)


Speaking of the rear seats, they are remarkably comfortable. Due to the center console, there is only room for two, but those two passengers travel in style and comfort. Incredibly, the raked rear roofline offers sufficient legroom for most people not playing in the NBA.

Speaking of the rear seats, they are remarkably comfortable. Due to the center console, there is only room for two, but those two passengers travel in style and comfort. Incredibly, the raked rear roofline offers sufficient legroom for most people not playing in the NBA. play

Speaking of the rear seats, they are remarkably comfortable. Due to the center console, there is only room for two, but those two passengers travel in style and comfort. Incredibly, the raked rear roofline offers sufficient legroom for most people not playing in the NBA.

(Hollis Johnson)


Outback, the Panamera's rear hatch opens to expose 17.6 cubic feet of cargo room. With the rear seat folded down, that number increases to 52.6 cubic feet of capacity.

Outback, the Panamera's rear hatch opens to expose 17.6 cubic feet of cargo room. With the rear seat folded down, that number increases to 52.6 cubic feet of capacity. play

Outback, the Panamera's rear hatch opens to expose 17.6 cubic feet of cargo room. With the rear seat folded down, that number increases to 52.6 cubic feet of capacity.

(Hollis Johnson)


Shut the rear hatch and you'll see the Panamera's new rear fascia including its nifty IKEA-esque expandable folding spoiler.

Shut the rear hatch and you'll see the Panamera's new rear fascia including its nifty IKEA-esque expandable folding spoiler. play

Shut the rear hatch and you'll see the Panamera's new rear fascia including its nifty IKEA-esque expandable folding spoiler.

(Hollis Johnson)


So, what's the Panamera like to drive?

So, what's the Panamera like to drive? play

So, what's the Panamera like to drive?

(Hollis Johnson)

The new Porsche Panamera has a lot to live up to in terms of driving experience. While its predecessor wasn't always the best to look at, it offered up driving excellence every time.

For me, the new Panamera delivers. The raging brute of a V8 under the hood and PDK gearbox team up to provide effortless power on demand with no turbo lag to speak of. On the highway on-ramp, 60 mph happens in the blink of an eye and the speedometer will easily glide its way into the triple figures if you don't pay close attention to your right foot.

In the corners, the big Porsche sedan feels solid, as if it were hewn from a single block of iron. The chassis feels tight and the car feels composed at all times. Only under extreme acceleration does the rear end feel a bit nervy as it hunts for traction. In most daily driving conditions, the Panamera feels like it's riding on rails.

With that said, my colleague Matt DeBord, who liked the Panamera, felt that the sedan didn't quite drive like the four-door 911 he was expecting. He opined that you couldn't drive the Panamera in the same way that you could drive the brand's iconic sports cars.



Our Verdict.

Our Verdict. play

Our Verdict.

(Hollis Johnson)

The new second-generation Porsche Panamera is an absolute gem of a car. The combination of old-school driving pleasure, state-of-the-art tech, and refined luxury make it a compelling option for anyone looking for a vehicle in this genre.

Even with a brand new chassis and electronics, the new Panamera is more evolutionary than revolutionary. In keeping with the previous car's exquisite driving dynamics, Porsche was very careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater when it gave the luxury sedan a much-needed makeover.

However, with the makeover, the Panamera now has the matinee idol looks to go with its world-class ability. And with this, Porsche has created the finest sports sedan in the world. It's certainly not cheap, but boy is it good. If you are one of the blessed few who can afford a new Porsche Panamera, don't think, just do it. Your life will be better for it.

Which is why we ended up naming the Panamera the 2017 Business Insider Car of the Year.



Subscribe to the Pulselive Newsletter!

Top 3

1 Finance Tesla is about to suffer the same fate as Ford (GM, F, TSLA)bullet
2 Finance The 13 richest footballers in the worldbullet
3 Finance Meghan Markle just proved her dominance over Kate Middleton,...bullet

Finance