KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
- Updated Date: 6/7/2012
The 2012 Porsche Panamera line includes seven variations, from the "base" model with rear-drive and a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, to the Turbo S with a 550-horsepower twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 and not so much a performance envelope as a performance shipping crate. Prices range from around $75K to well over twice that. In a way, there is no direct, clear market competition, as the 4-door Panamera defines the perhaps-paradoxical notion of a 4-door sports car and doesn't really fit the description of "sports sedan." Price, performance and image-wise there are the usual suspects from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, but the truth is, the Porsche Panamera is very much in a class by itself.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you absolutely, positively must have the performance, prestige and panache of a Porsche and the undeniable audacity of it being a 4-door sedan, there is probably no substitute for the 2012 Panamera. There are lots of really good high-end cars available, but only one Panamera.
You May Not Like This Car If...
To those not familiar with Porsche window stickers, even the lowest-priced 2012 Panamera will be an eye-opener. Getting in and out can be awkward. Close parking spaces can be problematical. If these things are issues, try something from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi. Did we say it's expensive?
What's New for 2012
In addition to the inclusion of the Turbo S and S Hybrid into the model line, the 2012 Porsche Panamera has only minor changes, mostly options, like Lane Change Assistant and some Porsche Exclusive options, including bi-xenon headlight surrounds in black, Sports Exhaust Tailpipes and new leather packages.
Describing the 2012 Porsche Panamera driving experience can quickly suck a lot of superlatives out of the dictionary, and its limits are for exploration by only the most skilled drivers. Even the base model, with the 300-horsepower V6, delivers impressive performance, and the increasingly more-powerful versions go all the way to incredibly awesome. It's not a lightweight, at two tons or more, so it lacks the quick, sweet nimbleness you would expect from, say, a 911. But it combines athletic steering response with resolute down-the-road stability. The sophisticated suspension deals with anything the pavement serves up, the brakes set the standard for stopping performance and the sum is an overall competence that makes ordinary drivers feel like heroes and any owner. This praise is not extended to the S Hybrid which dulls the steering and braking edge – the big reasons for buying a Porsche in the first place.
On a highway, at track day, or pulling up to the valet at an overpriced restaurant, the 2012 Panamera makes a visual statement that is unmistakable as to its overall purpose in life. This thing has stage presence.
Until you've driven a Porsche Panamera, it's difficult to imagine the overall level of competence and authority it has on the road – any road. On Interstates it's an impeccable long-distance, long-hours road warrior, on city streets it's smooth and luxurious, and on devilish curves its capabilities are beyond reproach.
In the 2012 Porsche Panamera the seats are low, and the doors low and long. Getting in or out can take patience – and room, so you don't bang the door into the car in the next spot. The interior is a statement to Porsche luxury and technology, and fit and finish is impeccable. Seating is terrific for those in front, with plenty of space even for taller folks, but less so for those in the rear, where the low seats, high sills and front-seat headrests severely limit the outward view. Expectedly, the sound system is magnificent and there is enough technology to suit the most committed early-adopter, but we counted about 75 control functions that are reachable from the driver's seat.
While Porsche's reputation was built on the racetracks of the world and that competition heritage is certainly the single-most significant aspect of the marketing message, the unmistakable "Porsche-ness" of the exterior shapes of all the company's products ties them together like pictures on a family greeting card. Even with four doors, there is no confusing that the 2012 Panamera is a Porsche. The smoothly-rounded shape, the almost genetically-linked front end, the side-window outline, the big tires filling out the fenders and the taillight treatment leave no doubt of the Panamera's relationship to other Porsches.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment on the 2012 Porsche Panamera base version, besides all the usual luxury items appropriate for the price range, includes a slide/tilt moonroof, electronically-controlled shock absorbers, Porsche Stability Management, hard-drive-based navigation, an automatic liftgate, ParkAssist, Bluetooth, 8-way power front seats, and a host of additional luxury, convenience and safety features.
Notable Optional Equipment
With a vehicle that offers paint and leather upholstery to match provided samples, you would be correct in guessing the list of available options is lengthy. Those options include sound systems from Burmester and Bose, Porsche Rear-Seat Entertainment with swiveling 7-inch screens, Lane Change Assist, adaptive cruise control, thermally and noise-insulated glass, and 4-zone automatic climate control – which allows separate adjustment of air temperature, blower intensity and air distribution for each seat.
Under the Hood
The base 2012 Porsche Panamera and Panamera 4 – "4" is Porsche shorthand for all-wheel drive – are powered by a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter all-aluminum V6. The other models (except the S Hybrid) have various versions of a 4.8-liter all-aluminum V8 which varies from 400 horsepower in the Panamera S and 4S models all the way up to 550 hp in the Turbo S. All Panamera models, except the S Hybrid, have a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual control. No manual transmission is offered. The Panamera S Hybrid has a 3.0-liter V6 with an 8-speed automatic, and the total system output is 380 horsepower. It is difficult to pick a favorite Porsche Panamera, as even the 3.6-liter V6 delivers sparkling performance and response.
Panamera, Panamera 4
300 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 mpg (Panamera), 18/26 mpg (Panamera 4)
Panamera S, Panamera 4S
400 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg
4.8-liter V8, twin turbocharged
500 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
Panamera Turbo S
4.8-liter V8, twin turbocharged
550 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
Panamera S Hybrid
3.0-liter V6 with hybrid electric motor
380 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (total system)
428 lb-ft of torque @ 1,000 rpm (total system)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg
The 2012 Porsche Panamera has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of right around $75,000, which is very near the base prices of the Jaguar XJ Series, the BMW 7 Series and the Lexus LS 460 L. Adding the all-wheel drive of the Panamera 4 bumps the price to about $80,000. The V8-powered S and 4S are about $90,000 and $96,000, respectively, the Turbo model starts around $138,000, and the top-of-the-line Turbo S has a starting price very near $175,000 – adding Porsche options can increase that dramatically. The S Hybrid starts at about $95,000, but can easily be optioned to well over $110,000. Be sure and check out KBB's Fair Purchase Price and see what others in your area are paying for the 2012 Porsche Panamera. Residual values can be expected to be on par with, or perhaps slightly higher than, those for the BMW and Lexus, and considerably higher than those for the Jaguar.