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2019 Porsche Panamera Review

LIKES
  • Enviable composure
  • Wide range of engines
  • Beautiful inside
  • Surprisingly utilitarian
  • New Sport Turismo stands out
DISLIKES
  • Phenomenally expensive
  • Not a total knockout outside
  • Perhaps too many choices?
  • Not comfortable for five
The 2019 Porsche Panamera leaves nothing on the table, in terms of performance, flexibility, and panache.

The 2019 Porsche Panamera argues passionately that the 911’s gene pool is deep and wide–and that it can be transplanted.

With the Panamera, Porsche largely succeeds in breeding the 911 of four-doors. We give it a 7.2 out of 10. 

The days are gone when Porsche meant simplicity. For the Panamera alone, there are 15 models, including the basic rear-wheel-drive five-door sedan, all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 and 4S, long-wheelbase Executive, Turbos, 4 E-Hybrids, and Turbo S E-Hybrids, some with Sport Turismo trim, and new for 2019, the Panamera GTS.

Prices start at less than $90,000 but can approach $300,000.

The Panamera may appear to be a sedan, but it's literally if not creatively a hatchback. The styling is cohesive, with a taut body and no wasted lines. The long hood and headlights resemble those on the Cayenne SUV. The hips flare, although less than on the Porsche sports cars. As if to underscore its place in the luxury atmosphere, a thin strip of red LED lights at the rear reads "Porsche." Inside, the Panamera could double as a coder getaway. It’s full of screens: Two 7.0-inch displays in the gauges and a 12.3-inch screen mounted tablet-style in the dash.

Performance shames some other Porsche models, as it should. The base engine makes 330 horsepower in both the rear-wheel-drive Panamera and the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4. The S models make 440 hp and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. A new GTS model surfaces 453 hp; the Panamera Turbo V-8 boosts horsepower to 550 hp.

Oh, and there are two E-Hybrids. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid makes 462 hp and can go 30 miles on all-electric power. The Turbo S E-Hybrid carries 680 hp under its long hood.

On every model, even the long-wheelbase Sport Turismo turbo hybrids–the heftiest Porsche cars ever–ride and handling sparkle. The Panamera rides with wonderful compliance and perfect composure around town or at bahn-breaking speed.

The Panamera also seats four people very comfortably, while the long-wheelbase Executive model adds 6 inches of rear leg room. Sport Turismo models offer a 4+1 package that replaces the rear console with a high and very narrow middle seat for use in a pinch.

No crash-safety data exists, but the Panamera offers the latest in advanced crash prevention, with features such as automatic emergency braking and a surround-view camera system. All versions come with leather upholstery, navigation, premium audio with Apple CarPlay compatibility, and power features. Maxed out, the 2019 Panamera gets a color-matched key fob, carbon-ceramic brakes, 21-speaker Burmester audio, and LED headlights.

Styling
The sinewy second-generation Porsche Panamera has cured its roofline blues.

This is the second generation of Panamera, and the style has resolved all the problems of the first-generation car. An inch-lower roofline never hurt a sporty luxury car, did it?

We think its sinewy styling is up there with cars like the Aston Martin Rapide and Audi A7, which earns it a 9.

The Panamera’s sinuous fenders, muscular haunches, short overhangs, fastback roofline, and even the red LED lighting at the rear are deliberately reminiscent of the Porsche 911. We see some Volkswagen in the angles and thickness of the roof pillars, but it's dubious if that's deliberate.

About the only things that change the looks of the many Panamera models are its available wheel designs. E-Hybrids have bright lime-green logos dropped on their bodies—certainly an odd idea, but a catchy one, once you notice it.

The Sport Turismo looks a bit like a wagon, but it's not, it's simply more like a hatchback. Its roofline is longer and its rear window more upright. It has a bit more interior space, making it very slightly better for cargo, but it's still no crossover. We think its silhouette is actually better looking than the standard hatchback.

Inside the cabin, the Panamera’s instrumentation is pure high-tech gloss, except for the traditional shift lever. The instrument panel is low and vertical, with a high center stack that holds a 12.3-inch screen and capacitive-touch switches. Two 7.0-inch screens border an analog tachometer in front of the driver's eyes. It’s all tightly composed and fitted with high-dollar materials that look as they should.

Performance
The 2019 Panamera pulls up just shy of perfection.

We've gotten seat time in about half of all Panamera models, and we can say this: Acceleration and grip are both phenomenal. We rate performance at 9, recognizing its excellent powertrains and its ride and handling.

That's just one notch of the perfect 10 we give to Porsche sports cars, by the way. 

The non-electric Panamera range
The rear-wheel-drive base Panamera uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 330 hp and 331 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, or 5.2 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package; its top speed is 164 mph. With all-wheel-drive it's called the Panamera 4, and 0-60 mph times improve to 5.0 seconds in some models.

Sport Chrono gives 20 seconds of extra turbo boost, using a button on the steering wheel-mounted selector. We wish the button were bright red. We used it a lot.

The Panamera 4S uses a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 making 440 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, or 4.0 seconds with Sport Chrono, with a top speed as high as 179 mph. We enjoyed the low torque peak of this engine. It comes on full blast at 1,750 rpm and stays there until 5,500 rpm, an amazing breadth, all the while with the beautiful sound of the whistling turbos in your ears.

New for 2019, the Panamera GTS initiates the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the lineup. Rated at 453 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, it’s stronger than Porsche’s last similarly configured engine, and 113 hp per passenger, in four-seat mode. With all-wheel drive, it can ship up to 70 percent of that power to the front wheels on its way to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, or to a top end of 181 mph. It’s a bit heavier than the V-6 and more high-strung, too, but not unhappily so.

Even though every Panamera is turbocharged, there is one model called the Panamera Turbo. Here the V-8’s tuned to drill out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. The power is progressive, not brutish, and it comes with a V-8 roar, muffled to be civilized—until it isn’t. Uncivilized thrust pushes it from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and on to 190 mph.

An 8-speed dual-clutch transmission comes with every Panamera. The paddle shifters, correctly mounted behind the top two spokes of the steering wheel, trigger race car-quick shifts. Sometimes—rarely—there's a hitch from this gearbox at low speeds, but that’s common to dual-clutch designs.

The active suspension system with three modes delivers different rides. When it's firm it's still pleasant, while other times it can feel like it's cradling the occupants. It takes all sizes of bumps in stride, even with optional 21-inch alloy wheels. Its weight helps smother bumps; the Panamera can weigh as much as a Cayenne.

As the car's weight affects the ride, its length affects its handling. The Panamera is a long 199 inches, and the Executive model adds 6 inches, all of it in the wheelbase. The optional rear-wheel-steering system is definitely a factor in its maneuverability, both at high and slow speeds. It's quicker at high speeds, and tighter at slow speeds. It helps the car feel more poised and confident on curvy roads. It can’t make corners less tight, though.

Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid
Porsche sells two Panamera E-Hybrids, and they’re quite different. The 4 E-Hybrid uses the V-6 from the 4S, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid uses the V-8. Both combine with lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors. The 4 E-Hybrid produces a combined 462 hp with 516 lb-ft of torque, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, with the standard Sport Chrono package. That's incredible performance for a plug-in hybrid that can run for 30 miles on electric power alone, and reach an electric speed of 186 mph, although it won't go nearly 30 miles at that speed. It has Porsche's Sport and Sport+ modes, plus a Hybrid Auto mode and an E-Power mode. An E-Hold mode conserves battery power, while E-Charge mode uses the engine to charge the battery.

It takes 12.5 hours to fully charge a depleted battery pack, using a standard 110-volt outlet. That's really too long for overnight, so you'll have to spend more money for the 240-volt charger with its 7.2-kilowatt capacity. That option cuts the time to 2.4 hours.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid has almost opposite ambitions. Mechanically and performance-wise, it's more like the 918 Spyder supercar. It makes a combined 680 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque from the 4.0-liter V-8 and batteries and its electric motor. But the unforgettable thing is, all that torque is available virtually immediately, from a standstill. The thrust is mind-boggling, and easily rivals the Tesla Model S. It can putt along on electric-only power, for a limited time.

Both hybrids have the same brilliant ride and handling as the other Panameras. The steering is crisp and communicative, while the steering-wheel feel is unique among full-size luxury cars. Somehow that 4,800 pounds of curb weight vanishes during turn-in to corners, and comes back when it's useful to plant the car over bumps. Brake-pedal feel isn’t the best among Porsches, but stick with the standard setup unless you’ll track the car–the optional carbon-ceramic brakes don't make things any smoother.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Panamera distinguishes itself with supple front seats and astonishing cargo space.

Inside the 2019 Panamera, fit and finish meets Porsche’s supremely high standards. With excellent front seats and good cargo space, we give it a 7 out of 10.

The front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, and even though they are low, and the roofline is low, forward vision is commanding.

The standard rear seat is a 40/20/40-split folding bench for two people, while the Sport Turismo has a three-person bench. But the center seat in that model is a high hump that steals all useful head room, and leg room is eliminated by the driveshaft hump. The two outboard seats are pleasant, however, especially with their available 14-way adjustment.

If you really need to use the back seat for your family or co-workers, you'll want the 6-inch longer Executive model. Every one of those inches goes into rear leg room. Head room remains an issue, however. And the low roofline and small door openings make entry into the rear awkward.

There is a console located between the front and rear seats, that looks like a shiny black panel until the engine is started. Then it turns into something that looks like it should be in an airplane, with an assortment of switches. Fortunately, most of the important controls are on the steering wheel.

The Panamera isn't an SUV like the Porsche Cayenne, so don't plan to carry any furniture, and even a bike will require a roof rack. It holds 17.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat, or 18.3 cubic feet in the Sport Turismo (the E Hybrid battery pack eats into available space in any model). But with the rear seat folded, the Sport Turismo grows, to 49 cubic feet compared to the standard car's 46 cubic feet.

The Panamera isn't perfect. There are some shiny black plastic switches and stalks, the cruise-control lever is awkward, and the adjustable center vent is willful. But stitched in the best leather and fitted with metallic trim, the Panamera cockpit is sublime and businesslike, a Boss suit stitched on the body.

Safety
With no crash-test data to its credit, the Panamera waits for a date with a wall.

The Panamera hasn't been crash tested. Without data, we abstain from assigning a safety rating.

Standard safety equipment includes forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Optional equipment includes active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic parking assistance. Other hardware means the 2019 Panamera can stop and go with traffic, and can change lanes when it's safe—all when it’s in cruise control.

There are two more high-tech safety features. Night Vision Assistant sees pedestrians and animals using a thermal imaging camera, and alerts the driver. Porsche's InnoDrive combines adaptive cruise control, navigation data, and signals from radar and video sensors; it then takes over acceleration, deceleration and gear changing for the next 1.8 miles, but requires an attentive driver at and on the wheel.

We’ll update this page if the Panamera undergoes crash tests.

Features
Porsche lets Panamera drivers gild the lily silly.

The Panamera’s list of luxury features is long, although there are some missing pieces we find surprising. Still, we give it a 7 out of 10, with points for superb infotainment and its standard equipment and its infinite choices. We dock a point for value because...have you configured and priced one? 

An $87,550 base Panamera with no options might be hard to find at a dealership. It has 19-inch alloy wheels, partial leather upholstery, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and a few more features.  

There are three basic option packages. The $3,860 Premium Package adds keyless ignition, blind-spot monitors, more power adjustment to the front seats with driver’s side memory, and Bose audio. Another $2,400 adds soft-close doors, heated seats, LED headlights, and front ventilated seats. The Assistance Package, at nearly $5,400, includes adaptive cruise control that uses navigation to see the road ahead for more than one mile, active lane control, and night vision.

The Panamera 4 with all-wheel drive is $92,150. The Sport Turismo runs $8,350, and the long-wheelbase Executive is $98,850. The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid runs $104,150, the Panamera 4S is $105,250, and the Panamera Turbo $152,750. Then it's another big leap to the Turbo S E-Hybrid at $187,450 (a Turbo S E-Hybrid we drove at the press launch showed a sticker price of nearly $220,000, without features like a power moonroof).

An almost-fully-loaded Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive can top $270,000.

But back to those choices. They are offered at Porsche dealerships, where buyers are shown combinations of leather and trim that can seem endless, from $370 for a rear windshield wiper to $8,970 for carbon-ceramic brakes. Leather can enrobe everything but the glass, for about $7,000. There are 21-speaker Burmester sound systems, $10,000 custom paint jobs, and very dear 21-inch wheels. If you have the time and money, you can create a unique and gorgeous Panamera. Let us know when you’re open to adult adoption, too.

Fuel Economy
With the Panamera, Porsche plugs into the grid for its best fuel economy.

The 2019 Porsche Panamera hasn’t been rated yet by the EPA, but based on its most recent data, it delivers very good gas mileage for a vehicle of its size.

Plug-in hybrids fare best, but the more popular model put the Panamera at a 4 out of 10 for economy.

The most recent EPA figures put the base V-6 rear-wheel-drive Panamera at 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined. The Panamera 4 and long-wheelbase Executive rate 21/27/23 mpg, while the Panamera 4S and 4S Executive get 21/28/23 mpg. The Sport Turismo 4S scores 20/26/23 mpg.

Turbo models rate 18/25/21 mpg, while the Turbo Sport Turismo gets 18/23/20 mpg.

The Panamera 4 E-hybrid is rated at 46 MPGe and 22 mpg combined, while Turbo E-hybrids come in at 49 MPGe and 21 mpg combined.—with Sam Moses



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