Ridiculous though it may seem, 454bhp is not a particularly impressive power output for a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 these days. Think about other engines in shporty applications churning out that kind of figure - the BMW M4 Competition, Audi’s RS5 - they all near enough match the power of the GTS with two fewer cylinders and a litre less in displacement.
The GTS is also only 20bhp more powerful than the Panamera S, so it’s a wonder Porsche even bothered slotting in a V8 to up the power, rather than just fiddle with the ECU of that car’s Audi co-developed 2.9-litre V6. But bother Stuttgart did, however, and in the process, it inadvertently revealed what the car world might be like if the power war never happened.
The 4.0-litre unit used by the GTS is mechanically identical to the one in the Panamera Turbo. Even the turbochargers are the same - all the engineers did was lower the boost pressure from 1.3 to 0.8 bar.
This sends the power crashing down from 542bhp to 456bhp, while the torque dips from 568lb ft to 457lb ft. As a consequence, the GTS is half a second slower during the benchmark 0-62mph sprint, completing it in 4.1sec. But what you lose in bragging rights at the golf club bar, you gain in character.
As we found when we reviewed the Panamera GTS last year, the lower pressures for those turbos mean that lag has been all-but eliminated. There’s no longer a beefy boost threshold point in the mid-range where all hell breaks loose either - just a lovely linear delivery that makes quick road driving so much more pleasurable.
It still feels fast, too. I had a couple of passengers at one point during my one-week GTS dalliance, neither of them strangers to fast cars, and they guessed that the output was probably around 500bhp or beyond. The near-100bhp extra served up by the Panamera Turbo isn’t necessary. You just don’t need it.
Knowing you can keep your foot down for a little longer means it’s far easier to get into a nice flow with the GTS on a twiddly bit of road. All the better for enjoying the chassis - which is shared with the Turbo. It can’t entirely disguise its weight, but the GTS does move around with a surprising amount of grace.
There’s a lovely moment when you’re sure understeer is about to arrive, when instead the front end tucks in at the apex and clings on. Then on the way out, the all-wheel drive system will happily chuck a big dose of torque to the rear wheels, making for easy-to-manage oversteer moments when you become braver with the throttle.
The one blight on the GTS Panamera’s report card is a firm edge to the ride, despite running air suspension as standard. Understandable to an extent, given that the system needs to keep such a heavy car in check, and the 20-inch front/21-inch wheels this thing runs.
As an all-round performance car box-ticker, though, it’s one of the most complete machines I’ve driven in a while. We had the sense it would be at the launch in Bahrain last year even with limited road driving (the tiny country’s road network doesn’t really feature corners), and now it’s been conclusively proven. But more importantly, this car - like the 992 911 Carrera we drove recently - shows there is another way.
The restraint shown by the GTS makes it feel as though it’s not from around here. From somewhere else in the theoretical multiverse, perhaps, where each category of performance car adheres to a maximum power output and a minimum engine size. Where the emotions a car can stir within you are deemed more important than sub-four second 0-62mph times. In this parallel universe, more modest power outputs might just have let a few more naturally-aspirated engines stick around. I’d rather like to live there.
Since I don’t have a Portal Gun, I’ll have to just settle for the Panamera GTS, which now has a place in my dream garage in Sport Turismo form. You can keep your Audi RS6 or Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon - an ST version of the GTS is all the car I could ever want or need.