By Keith Buglewicz
While some manufacturers call their sedans “4-door sports cars,” only the 2016 Porsche Panamera can say it with a straight face. As the polarizing effect of the Porsche Panamera's design has softened over the years, let us focus on what a fantastic driving car the Panamera is. Its looks are stunning, and it's available with everything from a V6 or a plug-in hybrid to a ground-pounding twin-turbo V8 with 570 horsepower. Yet it does all this while surrounding its driver and passengers in sublime comfort and luxury. Sure, a Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG offers more rear legroom, and the BMW 640i Gran Coupe costs less, but neither can match the Panamera's distinctive shape and incomparable driving experience.
The 2016 Porsche Panamera is perfect if you want a Porsche 911, but need a real back seat, not a decorative one. You'll get the authentic Porsche driving experience you demand, with virtually no sacrifice because of the additional doors.
The 2016 Porsche Panamera charges into the new year virtually unchanged. There's a new charging dock holder for the E Hybrid model, and a new rear-seat entertainment system is available.
While it is literally true that the 2016 Panamera is the Porsche of sedans, it's also an apt metaphor for the driving experience. Whether it's the 310-horsepower base model or...
... the 570-horsepower Turbo S, every Panamera model offers a unique blend of handling and performance that is not just incredible for a nearly 2-ton sedan, but could only have come from Porsche. The way this big sedan takes corners, accelerates, and delivers precise feedback to the driver is beyond reproach among other sedans. The sophisticated suspension damping and steering setup dispatch road imperfections and irregularities that would jostle and bounce lesser sedans. The only model where our praise is tempered somewhat is the S E-Hybrid, which doesn't have quite the positive steering and brake feel as the rest of the Panamera lineup. That said, when you lay on the Hybrid's throttle, hold on, because this car is seriously quick.
Nobody drops six figures on a car to blend in, and there's nothing on the road that looks quite like the 2016 Porsche Panamera. This is a car that will get you noticed wherever you go, and from any angle, it's unmistakably a Porsche.
S E-HYBRID PLUG-IN HYBRID
Nobody but Porsche could so convincingly prove that hybrids can be legitimately sporty machines. With the 2016 Panamera S E-Hybrid, it goes even further, offering up to 22 miles of electric range at speeds up to 85 mph, while delivering a driving experience no other plug-in can match.
The 2016 Porsche Panamera sits sports-car low to the ground, so getting in and out of the excellent seats can be a bit trying. But once in, you'll love it. The interior is classy and high-tech, with impeccable fit and finish. There's plenty of room in front for even very tall drivers, although the rear seat isn't so accommodating unless you're talking about the long-wheelbase models, which at least offer good legroom. The excellent audio system is just the start of the many high-tech features, but it'd be nice if there were fewer buttons on the steering wheel, console and dash.
From the wide stance, to the curved humpback shape, to the frog-like nose, the 2016 Panamera sheet metal is awash in an unmistakable "Porscheness." It's not just that it looks like an elongated 911 coupe, but the whole of the car conveys the notion of a connection to a history and reputation earned and refined on the racetrack. Styling tweaks a couple years ago tightened the body's lines, made LED headlights available – standard on Turbo S – and added an expanded rear trunklid with a wider glass window and an electrically deploying spoiler.
As expected of a premium luxury car, the 2016 Porsche Panamera comes very nicely equipped, even in its base model. There's a slide/tilt moonroof, plus hard-drive-based navigation and an automatic liftgate. The audio system includes Bluetooth, both front seats are power-adjustable eight ways, and there are additional luxury, convenience and safety features. On the performance side, there are electronically controlled shock absorbers and Porsche Stability Management, and long-wheelbase executive models feature Adaptive air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management to improve both ride and handling.
Beyond options such as higher-end audio systems – your choice of Bose or Burmester – a rear-seat entertainment system with 7-inch screens, there is a host of bespoke options you can order with your 2016 Panamera; if you like a particular color, provide a swatch and your Panamera will be draped in the same. Of course, there are high-tech safety options as well, such as Lane Change Assist, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, thermally- and noise-insulated glass, and 4-zone automatic climate control with separate air-temperature, blower-intensity and air-distribution adjustments for each seat.
The base engine for the 2016 Panamera – both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) Panamera 4 models – is a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter all-aluminum V6. Move up to the S models and you'll get a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 good for 420 horsepower. The rest of the lineup, except for the S E-Hybrid, get some form of a 4.8-liter all-aluminum V8, which varies in power from 440 horsepower in the Panamera GTS to 570 horsepower in the Turbo S Executive GT. The transmission for these models is a 7-speed Porsche PDK automatic transmission with manual control. The exception to all this is the Panamera S E-Hybrid, which combines a 3.0-liter V6 and electric motor for 416 horsepower, routed through an 8-speed Tiptronic S automatic.
3.6-liter V6 (Panamera, Panamera 4)
310 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg (RWD), 18/27 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (S, 4S)
420 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/27 mpg, 17/26 mpg (AWD, long-wheelbase Executive edition)
4.8-liter V8 (GTS)
440 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg
4.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (Turbo)
520 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24 mpg
4.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (Turbo S)
570 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-5,000 rpm (590 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm with overboost)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24 mpg
3.0-liter V6 with hybrid electric motor (S E-Hybrid)
416 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm (total system)
435 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpm (total system)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25 mpg combined/50 mpge in pure electric mode
When you include the $995 destination charge, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 Porsche Panamera with the 3.6-liter V6 is just under $80,000. That's about the same base price as a Jaguar XJ Series, BMW 7 Series and the Lexus LS 460 L. AWD bumps it up to about $84,000. The twin-turbo S and 4S are about $94,200 and $100,000, respectively, with V8 turbo models starting at about $142,500. The top-of-the-line Turbo S Executive GT starts at more than $201,000, and that's before adding options. The $100,000 S E-Hybrid is downright reasonable by comparison, but it's easy to option it to more than $110,000. Check KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their 2016 Porsche Panamera, and note that residual values are about the same as BMW and Lexus, and much better than Jaguar.