Sliding into the cockpit, I felt a sudden calmness and tranquility. On a crisp autumn day the sun’s rays poured through the windshield in starburst form, highlighting the leather’s amber hue. It was peaceful … but once I twisted the ignition key on the left of the steering wheel and heard the roar of the engine, I was awash in urgency—and needed to go somewhere, fast.
So it may not have been that Zen-like, but my first moments in the 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo felt pretty dang good. Folks, this is a wonderful car, or should I say in all honesty, supercar.
Yes, it’s a Porsche (VOW.DE) that you’ve no doubt seen on the streets (or maybe you have one) from time to time. But the latest version of the Panamera, and in this case the Turbo version, is something special.
The crucial details
Let’s hit the details real quick. For the 2017 model year, Porsche created an all-new Panamera. The original, released in 2009, was a sales hit for Porsche, even if the Stuttgart enthusiasts weren’t getting on board a 4-door grand tourer. Plus the styling wasn’t the hottest Porsche design.
For 2017, everything looks more svelte, cut and lower. Is it a 911 in sedan form? Seems pretty close to me. But the changes aren’t just cosmetic, as we’re seeing a new chassis, transmission, interior and two new engines. The Panamera Turbo that we tested now comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 pumping out 550 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of torque.
In years gone by, Porsche interiors were really afterthoughts — functional and sometimes pleasant to look at. But since the original Panamera, Porsche has been pushing the envelope when it comes to pleasing interiors, and it’s really coming through with the 2017 Panamera Turbo.
Upon taking control and joining the highway, the Panamera Turbo made me feel in full command of the road. The car is big, yes, but feels planted on the tarmac and handles like a much smaller car. Select ‘dynamic mode’ and everything tightens up even more — tightened suspension, quicker shifts, and higher revs are on order. But even in the normal setting, the suspension is perfect — you feel the road when you need to and it absorbs the nasty bumps when you don’t. The air suspension really does the trick.
Then there’s that engine, which is really the heart of the beast. It’s got fantastic oomph and low-end torque, and the power comes on all the way to the redline. Yes, that power came on right away and never felt like it would wane. Nice work for a car that weighs around 4,400 pounds.
The Panamera wants you to drive fast — and you will — but don’t get too excited or you will get speeding tickets, and plenty of them. You were warned.
Heading upstate in the car to a fall festival, the Panamera Turbo was almost overkill. We blasted through the highway and twisty side roads in complete control, with the all-wheel drive giving me command of the roads when they became a little gravely and dusty.
One feature of note is Porsche’s InnoDrive system, which includes its Adaptive Cruise Control feature. I’m a huge fan of smart cruise control, or radar cruise control where the system follows the car in front of you and keeps a distance that you set. InnoDrive will also determine the proper speed to take when cornering. The Porsche’s system worked perfectly fine, with no herky-jerkiness to be found as in some other implementations of this system.
When combined with Lane Keep Assist, which reads the road markings and terrain to keep the car in the correct lane, you almost have something akin to autonomous driving on the highway. Now, semi-autonomous driving isn’t a supported feature, but it gives you an idea of the level of technology in this car and how far auto manufacturers are coming when it comes to closing the gap to fully autonomous driving.
The car’s fit and finish is astounding, with leather, metal, and wood all melding together nicely. The console buttons are capacitive touch panels with a few switches here and there. This may not be your thing because of a lack of tactile feeling, but it worked fine for me. A couple of times you might have an annoying misfire when trying to engage a feature, but the nuisance was minimal.
The Bose sound system was genuinely great, and this is quite an important feature on a grand touring car. But, it’s a Porsche, so who really cares how Spotify sounds anyway – the aural performance you want is coming out of the tailpipes.
This car was simply a joy to drive, offering the right combination of handling and performance but also providing the comfort of a grand tourer when you wanted it. On the downside, it’s still a little big for my tastes, and it is not cheap at all (base price is $146,900, as tested $171,460). But cost doesn’t matter if you’re lucky enough to have the dough to spend on what may be the ultimate grand touring supercar.
And, in my case, find my moment of Porsche Zen …
I was deep in driver bliss pushing the Panamera into the corners and feeling the wave of acceleration on exit. Simply divine… But the highest compliment I can pay this car is that there was nary a thought in my head, wondering what this road would be like in a 911 instead…
NOTE: This post has been updated to include pricing information.
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter here.