2010 Porsche Panamera

2010 Porsche Panamera

The 2010 Porsche Panamera is the marque's first-ever four-door sedan. Aimed at the Audi A8, BMW M5 and 7 Series, Maserati Quattroporte, and Mercedes-Benz S Class, this grand tourer is somewhat different. Instead of a traditional three-box sedan shape, the Panamera is a two-box hatchback to provide a roomy rear seat and useful cargo space.

And it is truly roomy, with back-seat headroom, legroom and hip room that rivals that of a Mercedes S-Class sedan or any of the other cars in this class. This surprised us. The other thing that surprised us was its refinement and smoothness. It's impressively smooth and serene when cruising along like a luxury car, which belies the world-class handling and performance available whenever the driver starts pushing hard on the pedals.

Beyond having four doors, the Panamara is different from traditional Porsches. Unlike the 911, which has its engine mounted in the rear, the Panamera has a more common front-engine design. It is offered with two flavors of V8 power. Panamera S and Panamera 4S models use a 400-horsepower V8, while the Panamera Turbo model features a 500-horsepower turbocharged version of the same engine. Both engines are mated to a new seven-speed automated manual transmission Porsche refers to as the PDK.

The Panamera S comes with rear-wheel drive, while the 4S and Turbo have all-wheel drive.

All Panameras are fast. The normally aspirated V8 in S and 4S models has plenty of power at any speed, and can launch the car from 0-60 mph in as little as 4.6 seconds. The Turbo cuts that time to 3.6 seconds, with little if any turbo lag and a rush of power that pins you back in your seat. Those numbers don't tell the whole story, however. The Panamera S feels lighter on its feet than the Turbo, and is in some ways more entertaining to drive. The 4S falls between the two.

Slightly smaller than a BMW 7 Series, the Panamera offers the sporty performance of a world-class sports sedan with the comfortable ride and refinement of a luxo-cruiser. A lot of engineering went into the car to make those extremes possible. To achieve the desired balance, Porsche built the body from lightweight materials and placed the engine low and as far back as possible. Porsche also used two forms of adjustable suspension to turn the ride from soft but stable to racetrack-ready.

The most luxurious Porsche ever, the Panamera is quite well appointed and equipped. Leather upholstery is standard, as are a choice of carbon, aluminum or five varieties of wood trim. The fit and finish and quality of the materials rival that of any competitor.

Space is impressive, too. A standard full-length center console divides the car into four distinct and comfortable seating positions. The feel from the driver's seat is much like that of the 911, only higher off the ground. The rear seat has enough head room for an NBA point guard and plenty of leg room, too. All of the seats are supportive without being too firm or too deeply bolstered. With this much room, the Panamera would work just as well as a chauffer-driven vehicle as it would a driver-oriented sports sedan.

The hatchback design makes the Panamera useful as a family vehicle, too. With the rear seats up, the rear cargo area is as roomy as most trunks, and with the seats down the Panamera has as much cargo room as a Subaru Impreza hatchback, which is a lot.

Bottom line, the 2010 Porsche Panamera is a great way to expand the Porsche lineup. It performs well on the street and the track, and offers enough passenger and cargo room to make it a no-compromise luxury sedan. Put simply, the Panamera enters the market as one of the world's best luxury sports sedans. Be careful with options, though. As with any Porsche, they can get awfully pricey when you start checking off the boxes.

Model Lineup

The 2010 Porsche Panamera is offered in S, 4S and Turbo models. Panamera S and Panamera 4S are outfitted with a 400-horsepower 4.8-liter V8, while the Panamera Turbo gets a turbocharged version of the same V8 making 500 horsepower. Both engines are mated to Porsche's PDK transmission. Panamera S comes with rear-wheel drive, while Panamera 4S and Turbo have all-wheel drive.

Panamera S ($89,800) and 4S ($93,800) come standard with leather upholstery; automatic climate control; interior air filter; eight-way power-adjustable front bucket seats with driver's seat memory; heated front seats; split-folding rear bucket seats; tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; power rear liftgate; Homelink universal garage door opener; anti-theft system; 11-speaker, 235-watt AM/FM stereo with CD/DVD/MP3 player; Porsche Communication Management system with seven-inch touchscreen, navigation system and trip computer; auto-dimming outside and rearview mirrors; sunroof; automatic bi-xenon headlights; adaptive rear spoiler; Porsche Active Suspension Management adjustable suspension; and P245/50ZR18 front and P275/45ZR18 summer performance tires on alloy wheels. The 4S adds all-wheel drive with an automatic brake differential.

Panamera Turbo ($132,800) upgrades with adaptive air suspension with load-leveling and adjustable ride height, adaptive headlights, 14-way power seats with memory, power tilt/telescoping steering column, alcantara roof liner, full leather upholstery and interior trim, and P255/45ZR19 front and P285/40ZR19 rear summer tires.

Options are numerous, and you can get just about every part of the interior trimmed in leather, alcantara, wood or aluminum on an a la cart basis. Major exterior options include 19- and 20-inch wheels in several designs ($1,560-$3,380), nine colors and five special metallic colors, thermal and noise-insulated glass ($1,120), keyless access and starting ($1,090), roof rack ($400), and a rear wiper ($400). Performance options include the adaptive air suspension ($1,990); Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control with rear differential lock ($4,460); variable assist power steering ($270); Sport Chrono Plus package with analog and digital stopwatch, Sport Plus button and launch control ($1,320), ceramic composite brakes ($8,150); sport exhaust system ($2,950) with modified silencers, special tailpipes and an interior button to change the exhaust note. Front park assist and a rearview camera are bundled ($1,255).

Options inside include a full-leather interior ($3,655) with memory for the driver's seat and driver's side mirror; full-leather interior with 14-way power seats ($3,655) with power steering column and memory for lights, wipers, A/C, door locks, instrument cluster and PCM settings; and a full-leather interior with 18-way power sport seats ($5,360) that includes the same additional memory functions. The 14-way ($1,705) and 18-way ($3,210) seats are also offered without full leather. Also offered are front park assist ($600); adaptive cruise control ($2,490); large rear center console ($2,300); eight-way power rear seats ($1,835); front and rear seat ventilation ($1,600); four-zone automatic climate control ($1020); heated steering wheel ($210); power sunscreens for rear side windows ($450) and a power rear sunscreen ($340). Audiophiles will appreciate the 14-speaker, 585-watt Base surround sound audio system ($1,440) and the 16-speaker, 1000-watt Burmester surround-sound audio system ($5,690). Other audio options consist of XM satellite radio ($750), Bluetooth cell phone connectivity ($695), 6CD/DVD changer ($650), and a Universal Audio Interface ($440) with auxiliary input and USB jacks.

Safety features that come standard include dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front- and rear-side airbags, curtain side airbags with rollover deployment, tire-pressure monitor, rear park assist, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control.

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