2019 Porsche Panamera GTS: First Review
- GTS models are configured for the driving enthusiast
- Offered in Panamera and Sport Turismo body styles
- Standard twin-turbocharged 453-hp V8
- Cosmetic and mechanical enhancements
- New-for-Panamera head-up display
- Pricing starts at $128,300
The letters “GTS” on the back of a Porsche, an acronym for Grand Turismo Sport, define a specific objective — the vehicle has been configured for driving enthusiasts who want to enjoy uncompromised sport tuning for both the street and track. With enhanced cosmetics, upgraded mechanicals, and a more inclusive list of standard features than the base models, GTS variants are engineered to deliver the best of both worlds – they are as competent on the daily commute as they are on a challenging racing circuit.
With Porsche already offering GTS models in its 718, 911 and Macan lineups, the 2019 model year welcomes the all-new Panamera GTS — an enthusiast-tuned premium sport sedan — that will be offered in both the Panamera (sedan) and Sport Turismo (wagon) body styles.
Appearance Package Sets GTS Apart from Siblings
To differentiate the GTS version of the 2019 Porsche Panamera from its siblings, Porsche fits the Sport Design package as standard equipment. GTS models feature unique front and rear fascias with blackened components, black side skirts, gloss black window trim, and black badging – even the taillights have been tinted darker. Inside the cabin, standard Adaptive 18-way sport seats are upholstered in Alcantara and leather, with matching soft material on the armrests, doors, visors, pillars, and headliner (Note: Alcantara doesn’t breathe, so the cooled seats option requires perforated leather). GTS logos are emblazoned on the doorsills, head restraints and tachometer. Those seeking even more distinction may opt for the GTS Interior Package, with Carmine Red or Chalk-colored embroidering, matching seatbelts, and contrasting stitching.
The passenger cabin boasts Porsche’s Advanced Cockpit, which is highlighted by a vivid 12.3-inch full-HD touch screen running the latest version of Porsche Communication Management (PCM). New on the options list for the Panamera is a high-resolution head-up display (HUD). The full-color projection is fully customizable, effortless to use — literally a drag-and-drop process via PCM — and it puts all relevant information directly in the driver’s line-of-sight.
Standard Twin-Turbocharged V8 Engine
Rather than offer another variant of its turbocharged 6-cylinder, enthusiasts will be pleased that Porsche has fitted the Panamera GTS models with the twin-turbocharged V8 used in the range-topping Turbo models — although the engine is slightly detuned to produce 453 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. Displacing 4.0 liters, and with a pair of turbochargers nestled within the engine’s vee, the powerplant makes 73 more lb-ft of torque than the previous-generation GTS, which is a notable amount of additional thrust. Moreover, the V8 sounds much better than any V6 – especially with the standard Sport Exhaust – no sane enthusiast will question Porsche’s choice. According to the automaker, the Panamera GTS models will rocket from a rest to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with the aid of launch control, which is packaged with the Sport Chrono option – also standard on the GTS.
The engine is mated to a refined 8-speed PDK transmission, which is Porsche’s dual-clutch automated gearbox, sending power to all four wheels through Porsche Traction Management (PTM) – a multi-plate clutch spreads the engine’s power between the front and rear axle based on available grip. Porsche points out that the PDK’s tallest gears are both overdrive ratios that are engineered to optimize fuel efficiency (we estimate that it will deliver about 25 mpg on the open highway), and that the Panamera and Sport Turismo will both deliver their top speeds (181 mph and 179 mph, respectively) in 6th gear.
The On-Road Driving Dynamics of a Gentleman
The standard 3-chamber air suspension on the 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS works in conjunction with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) to deliver a comfortable, well-controlled ride. As expected, the overall tone falls on the sporty side of the ride spectrum — keeping in mind the enthusiast tune – but luxury is the dominant theme.
Porsche’s fame is with race-winning sports cars, but the Panamera is a proper 4-season luxury grand tourer (one reason why the company doesn’t offer a rear-wheel-drive variant). The company’s engineers have gone to great lengths to eliminate road and tire roar, wind noise, and many other annoyances – isolation is a key ingredient. At highway velocities the cabin is quiet and comfortable (strict speed laws in Bahrain which hosted the GTS introduction limited us to just over 80 mph).
Enthusiasts seeking a bit more excitement are encouraged to spin the 4-mode (Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Individual) steering wheel-mounted dial, which includes the Sport Response Button – standard with Sport Chrono. Press it while underway and the Panamera GTS immediately reconfigures the drivetrain for maximum acceleration for a full 20 seconds (we call it the “point-and-shoot passing button”).
The On-Track Driving Dynamics of a Warrior
It is unlikely that few, if any, Panamera GTS owners will venture onto a racing circuit, yet Porsche engineers have the exception covered as we noted during laps on the spectacular Bahrain International Circuit.
Mass is the enemy on a track, as a vehicle’s engine, suspension and brakes must continuously battle to accelerate, stabilize and decelerate weight through the corners and straights. Most svelte sports coupes tip the scales at just over 3,100 pounds, but the Panamera GTS, a 4-place sedan, is a luxurious 4,400 pounds. Despite this handicap, and warm Middle East temps in the mid-80s, the Porsche never wavered. In fact, it did surprisingly well.
With the throttle floored down the long main straight, and the twin-turbo V8 at full tilt, acceleration is strong – we saw speeds upwards of 150 mph before mashing the brake pedal for dizzying levels of deceleration (high-speed stability isn’t an issue thanks to the automatic 2-section spoiler that deploys from the decklid of the Panamera – the Sport Turismo features its own active-aero spoiler at the rear lip of the roof). The GTS arrives with standard upgraded iron brakes, which should be more than sufficient for roads in the States, but our track-ready models were fitted with optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) with 10-pistion calipers and enough heat resistance and stopping force to halt the onset of winter.
Four-wheel steering, part of the optional Rear Axle Steering with Power Steering Plus package, improves agility in the twisty sections and stability on the straights. And, with the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) package, an auxiliary 48-volt electrical system nearly eliminates body roll. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, included in PDCC Sport, ensures the driver’s steering inputs are followed thanks to an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential and torque vectoring – yes, the Panamera GTS will hang its tail out in a corner.
The Panamera’s weight is most obvious in the fast sweeping corners where increasing the vehicle’s speed exceeds the physical grip of the tires – the sedan is pushed outward. Thankfully, the programming of Porsche Stability Management (PSM) keeps the four contact patches on the track, despite a few judgmental errors in our trajectory. Porsche’s own 4D Chassis Control (a sophisticated centralized network that is tasked with controlling the vehicle’s digital systems) works overtime to ensure that the driver’s requests are seamlessly followed.
A Dynamic Sedan, with a Value Proposition
We really like the new Panamera GTS models as they deliver eye-opening performance (both body styles are equally as competent), innovation, technology, and luxury without compromise. Of course, this level of competency doesn’t come inexpensively. But if their 6-figure base price dissuades, don’t look at the GTS models as upgraded and enhanced standard models. Instead, consider the GTS twins an attractive, value-packed, way to save at least $15,000 off the cost of a Panamera Turbo – how’s that for a value proposition?
The standard 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $128,300. The Panamera GTS Sport Turismo, which is the wagon variant, carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $134,500.