The Panamera just got exciting. It has always been the awkward, heavy, dull-witted uncle at Porsche’s Christmas party, but out of nowhere two game-changers have emerged.
It’s fair to say that next to the 911, Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne and Macan, the Panamera has always been a bit… boring, at least as a concept. There’s nothing exciting about taking a 911 face and attaching a longer, wider, less pretty body to it before making it drive significantly less well around a racetrack. It never really seemed to fit into the Porsche brand all that comfortably. Even the Cayenne felt like a Porsche once we got used to the original one’s shocking looks, because it revolutionised how a big SUV could handle.
But this year’s Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off next week, is about to slap us across the face with two new Panameras that spell good things for Porsche’s oddball misfit. The first was announced last week; a regular Panamera body packing a slightly mental hybrid system derived from 918 Spyder technology. It puts out 671bhp and 627lb ft, putting the super back in super-saloon.
The Turbo S E-Hybrid is a mighty step up from the sort-of-fine, sort-of-lacklustre S E-Hybrid that went before it. There’s much more electricity on board, it can drive for up to 31 miles in EV mode and Evo magazine has apparently had one up to 197mph. It represents a major step further towards the sports car electrification revolution. If something like this, weighing about the same as the Humber Bridge, can still do 31 miles on electric power then the technology is getting to the stage where a smaller version could potentially slot into the 911. Interesting times are ahead, we feel.
Forget about hybrid 911s for now. First, the hybrid tech will find its way into a new Cayenne and maybe even the Macan before going near the famous flagship sports car. Make no mistake, though; the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is a significant car. It’s also a significantly fast car, which is another box ticked.
On its own, though, a next-generation hybrid drivetrain might not be enough to sway us in favour of the car that’s ruined the Porsche family photo for years. Fortunately, the second Geneva showstopper has tipped the balance.
Announced on Thursday, the Sport Turismo shooting brake is the Panamera that everyone has been waiting for since the concept was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2012, and it looks to have kept the name. Dribble. Different from the B-pillars back, the roof line stays higher and then flicks into a sleek tailgate, which, if you’re interested, will provide a much lower load lip to make it easier to get bags in and out. There’s a whole 20 litres more space in there, would you believe.
The Sport Turismo so much better looking both in profile and from the back than the regular Panamera. It’s arguably what the car should have been from the outset. At the top of the tailgate is an aerodynamically active spoiler that stays retracted until your commute reaches 106mph, when it flicks up at a one-degree angle to add stability without too much drag. If 106mph is a bit ambitious for the M6, in Sport and Sport Plus driving modes it sets to its ‘performance position’ at just 56mph.
Even cleverer, the spoiler bumps up to a 26-degree angle if you crank the optional panoramic sunroof open, helping to lower wind noise. This is the sort of thing that turns our heads, not because we can’t live without it, but because it’s really cool.
Now the dust has settled from all the turbocharging malarkey associated with the 911, Boxster and Cayman over the last couple of years, the Panamera has erupted from its shell in style. Suddenly it might just be Porsche’s most interesting car.