I'm cruising down a Southern California freeway on a weekend doing about 70 mph in a 2014 Porsche Panamera GTS, and I can't help but recall going twice this speed on a German autobahn in this same car. While the velocity and locale of these instances were vastly different, the Panamera's driving manners were not. In both the rare occasion when I could actually go freeway speeds in California and the rather normal feat of doing 140-plus in its home country, the big Porsche remained oddly at ease in its own skin -- however bulbous it may be.
GTS model: Middle of the line
With a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) V8 engine that makes 440 horsepower, the GTS is something of the middle child in the Panamera lineup, which ranges from a base rear-drive model with a naturally aspirated, 310-horsepower V6 that starts around $80,000 to the rip-roaring, all-wheel-drive Turbo S with a 570-horsepower twin-turbo V8 and a price tag north of $180,000. The all-wheel-drive GTS arrives around $115,000, and like our test model, easily climbs by tens of thousands with options.
Whatever you make of the Panamera's design or the mere fact that it's a 4-door Porsche, let's reiterate: The Panamera drives like a Porsche. Is it a 911 or even a Cayman? Of course not -- the Panamera's larger size and higher weight prove even Porsche isn't immune from the laws of physics. Yet its very feel, the way it hugs the road without bruising your back, the way the steering feels just right -- heck, the very smell of this car, has Porsche written all over it.
Performance cred aside, here's a sampling of other observations you should be aware of it you're considering a Panamera GTS.
On the Plus Side
* Real rear seats: The Panamera not only has two of them, but with their sculpted shape and array of climate buttons in between, they prove this grand touring car is just as serious about rear-passenger comfort as it is for those in front. And if you normally chauffer NBA friends, a long-wheelbase model is available with extra legroom. My sole gripe when sitting in back is a somewhat closed-in feel due to the high windowsill and teardrop window design that inhibits the rearward view.
* Commendable luggage space: Porsche's 2-door models aren't exactly suitcase-friendly. With its large hatch, however, the Panamera is an adept hauler.
* Luxurious interior: Most people equate Porsches with speed and agility, and rightly so. But step into a modern Porsche and you'll find a car filled with fine materials, high-tech infotainment systems, and exacting craftsmanship.
* That exhaust note: Its growl is addicting but rather loud, even in without what I call the "loudness button" (sport mode) engaged. If you plan a long trip in this model, get used to rumble from the rear.
* The Burmester boom: Burmester's audiophile systems are usually superb. But this nearly $6,000 optional one in the GTS was way too bass-heavy, even with the bass setting adjusted into the negative range.
* Where's the keyless access? Still on the options list, part of the $3,100 Premium Package Plus. That's a shame in a model that already costs overs six figures.
In the grand scheme of things, these nits don't overshadow the Panamera's positives. The more difficult consideration if you're seriously considering a 4-door Porsche may be which of the Panamera's many trims to choose, or whether this model suits you better than the 5-passenger Cayenne SUV or even the new Macan.
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