Nevertheless, if you believe the company line, Porsche’s direction has never been clearer. Nor has its typically Teutonic confidence. In referring to Stuttgart’s products and business tactics, Berning once said that “anyone who [claims] the company is mediocre fails to appreciate reality.” Dr. Michael Steiner, the Panamera’s technical director, has stated that Porsche “doesn’t believe that the Panamera will out-sell the 911.” And Detlev von Platen, the CEO of PCNA, has stated that although Porsche’s U.S. sales have dropped 30 percent in the past year, the company is “cautiously optimistic” that the economy’s worst will be “over by fall.”
The Panamera’s success rides on that prediction. Porsche chose to launch the V8-powered Panamera S, Panamera 4S, and Panamera Turbo before the inevitable hybrid or V6 models, and the spec sheet for even the base Panamera S is a feast of expensive, luxury-market technology. A twin-clutch, seven-speed PDK manumatic, PASM electronically adjustable suspension, and a direct-injected, 4.8-liter, dual-overhead cam V8 are all standard, as are eight-piston (front) and four-piston (rear) aluminum monobloc calipers. The list of available options is a mile long, and it includes everything from PDCC active anti-roll bars and an electronically controlled rear differential lock to adaptive air suspension and a Burmester surround sound system. Not, in other words, the kind of stuff you sell to a world largely on the economic skids.
We’ve examined the Panamera’s technical details in these pages before (Excellence August, 2009), but it’s worth reviewing the basics: The 4.8-liter V8 found in the Panamera S, 4S, and Turbo is an evolved version of the one found in the current Cayenne, a lighter, stronger iteration of the same basic concept. Magnesium valve covers, lightweight cam adjusters, a lighter crankshaft, and lighter connecting rods help minimize weight, and a compact crankcase bedplate allows for a remarkably short oil pan (all Panamera V8s use an “integrated dry sump”). In the interest of a lower hood line and more efficient packaging, all-wheel-drive Panameras sport a front driveshaft that passes through the sump — a marked change from Cayenne practice, where the same shaft passes underneath the engine.
The 500-bhp, 516-lb-ft Panamera Turbo boasts the same basic engine as its more prosaic (400 bhp/369 lb-ft) S and 4S brethren. Displacement, bore, and stroke are unchanged, and with the sole exception of a dual-length intake manifold — present on the S/4S, absent on the Turbo — and a pair of turbochargers, the Panamera’s two V8s could be twins. The Cayenne’s tubular steel exhaust manifolds are missing, having been replaced by a pair of integrated, cast-iron manifolds that incorporate the “hot” half of each turbocharger housing.
The Panamera’s front and rear suspension design is somewhat predictable; a double-wishbone front axle is paired with a multilink rear, with both front and rear systems being housed in removable subframes. The S and 4S models are equipped as standard with steel coil springs and Porsche Active Suspension Management, which offers three damper settings. The Panamera Turbo boasts a version of Porsche’s adaptive air suspension system, which can adjust ride height across a 45-mm range.
Eighteen-inch wheels are standard on both the S and 4S, with 19-inch units being fitted as standard to the Turbo. (20-inch wheels are available as an option on all Panameras.) Braking is accomplished by the aforementioned aluminum monobloc calipers and cast-iron rotors. The Turbo is fitted with larger brakes than the S and 4S, but a PCCB carbon-ceramic setup is available on all three models at additional cost.