Thursday, October 6, 2016

Porsche's Panamera perfect for four-door fun

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at www.sacbee.com/news/business/article4005306.html

This review first appeared in the September 2016 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California For Porsche purists – and I’m talking about SERIOUS traditionalists here – it was bad enough when the German performance car producer introduced the Cayenne sport-utility vehicle to North America in 2003.

But when the FOUR-DOOR Panamera sedan came along six years later, the shriek of hurt feelings could be heard around the globe.  When some called the Panamera a “hatchback,” I swear that some Porsche devotees thought the world was ending.

I had my first cockpit experience in the Panamera recently.  I had a blast, a super-fun experience.  Four doors?  Six doors?  Didn’t matter to me.

My Panamera tester had a let-it-all-hang-out Porsche scream at full song, racetrack-ready road manners and interior perks to please most of the auto-driving population.

Yes, you’re going to have to put down $80,000-plus for even the most basic version of the Panamera, which is what I had.  But this is Porsche, right?  That kind of money goes with the territory.

The exterior look of the Panamera is instantly recognizable as a Porsche, not a Honda Civic as some old-school Porsche fans would have you believe.  Think of a stretched version of a Porsche 911, and you’re there.

Interior features and comforts are plentiful and just what you’d expect in this lofty luxury/performance segment.

The essence of the tested Panamera was the 3.6-liter V-6 engine making a max 310 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque.  By Porsche standards, this is entry-level power.  For my tastes, the power plant shoved the Panamera forward with heart-racing excitement.

The complex transmission is essentially a seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic.  Fuel mileage is a pretty fair 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.  Be advised, however, that Porsche dictates unleaded premium fuel in the Panamera tank.

The rear-drive Panamera weighs in at nearly 4,000 pounds, but I found that it maneuvered with a much lighter feel.  My opinion was seconded by volunteer passengers who climbed into the extra two doors leading to the back seats, where there’s room for two.  They were impressed with the Panamera’s road manners, and yes, the vehicle’s rear-seat space.

And there’s this: the Panamera can be configured for a max cargo-carrying capacity of 44.6 cubic feet.

For the record, it should be noted that Porsche is rolling out a new and improved Panamera now, and it is possible to spend well into the six figures on more horsepower-laden versions of the four-door vehicle.

But for me, my first experience in the basic 2016 Panamera impressed me adequately, thank you very much.  Those four doors didn’t bother me in the least.  And volunteer passengers loved the ride as well.

It was all I’d expect from a luxury sedan with a starting price well south of $100,000.

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