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  • 2011 Porsche Panamera 4

    Posted on June 3rd, 2011 ninarussin

    Porsche adds a V-6 engine to its four-door GT line-up

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Porsche Panamera 4

    Porsche rolled out the four-door Panamera for the 2009 model year: the name comes from the Carrera Panamerica races in Mexico during the 1950s. As its moniker suggests, the Panamera is the ultimate road trip car for automotive cognoscenti.

    Proportionately, the Panamera more closely resembles a coupe than a sedan, with a bullet profile reminiscent of Porsche’s two-door sports cars. But the Panamera is no more a stretch version of the 911 than it is Porsche’s answer to the 7-Series. It is, in short, its own animal.

    This year, Porsche adds a V-6 engine to the Panamera line-up, including an all-wheel drive variant. 2011 models also get standard Bluetooth interface and MP3 compatibility. Porsche’s communications management system and bi-xenon headlamps are standard on the all-wheel drive Panamera 4.

    MSRP for the Panamera 4 is $78,900, not including the $975 delivery charge. Options on the test car include black metallic paint, heated front seats and steering wheel, a ski bag, special 19-inch rims, an audio upgrade with XM radio and headrests with the Porsche crest, bringing the price as tested to $86,690.

    Zero-to-sixty in less than six seconds

    2011 Porsche Panamera 4

    While the new V-6 engine is less powerful than the V-8 the Panamera debuted with, it is not for the faint of heart. Coupled with a seven-speed PDK transmission, the Panamera 4 accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 5.8 seconds.

    The engine develops peak torque, 295 foot pounds, at about half throttle. The double clutch automatic transmission uses friction couplings to more closely resemble the performance of a manual. It is, in itself, a lovely piece of machinery.

    The new engine is 66 pounds lighter than the V-8 contributing to the new model’s 18/26 mile-per-gallon fuel economy, according to EPA stats. Average fuel economy for my 200-mile test drive was 24 miles-per-gallon: three miles-per-gallon better than the EPA estimate.

    A better option for active lifestyles

    Although I’m a huge fan of Porsche’s two-door sports cars, none are particularly well suited to buyers with active lifestyles. The Panamera won’t hold a bicycle as the Cayenne sport-utility vehicle can, but it easily stows skis, snowboards and golf bags. The second-row seats give the Panamera greater passenger capacity, and are safer for small children riding in the car.

    The active all-wheel drive system gives the Panamera better performance in wet weather and snow. It also helps the driver to maintain control when driving aggressively on two-lane winding roads.

    Since the car comes standard with performance tires, buyers who live in climates with cold winters should absolutely invest in winter tires. Summer tires are too hard to provide adequate traction in cold temperatures, whether or not there is snow on the ground.

    Test drive in Phoenix

    I drove the Panamera through a rural area south of Phoenix, and around town. Although I’ve not traditionally been a fan of V-6 engines, the one under the hood of the Panamera performs beautifully. With its enhanced fuel economy and seamless performance, I would most likely choose it over the larger V-8 engine.

    The seven-speed transmission shifts crisply, whether the driver uses the fully-automatic mode or chooses gears manually. Acceleration in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range is outstanding. Drivers will feel confident moving into and through high-speed traffic.

    Visibility around the perimeter is quite good. Although the test car lacks a park assist feature, I had no problems backing in and out of parking spots. The side mirrors do an excellent job of compensating for blind spots in the back corners, without interfering with the driver’s view when cornering.

    Engineers made extensive use of lightweight aluminum components in the suspension to minimize unsprung weight. The double wishbone suspension in front and multi-link setup in the rear deliver a nimble ride which is compliant enough for use around town.

    Six-piston 14-inch disc brakes in front and four piston 13-inch discs in the rear stop the Panamera on a dime.

    The car’s 115-inch wheelbase accounts for a rather wide turning circle: 39.3 feet. Aside from that, steering response is excellent, with ample assist at lower speeds and positive on-center response on the highway.

    Spacious interior seats four adults

    Porsche Panamera Interior

    Four bucket seats on the Panamera’s interior accommodate adults of all sizes. All seating positions provide excellent lumbar and thigh support.

    Rear seats adjust fore and aft, offering a surprising amount of legroom. Despite the roof’s steep rake, headroom is ample as well.

    Center consoles in both rows function as a visual spine which extends down the length of the interior. They also give both rows of passengers access to storage, writing surfaces and power points.

    A tilt and telescopic steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag. The steering wheel includes redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls to minimize driver distraction. Formula-style shift paddles enable the driver to flick through the gears with ease.

    Climate, navigation and audio controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Vents behind the front seats circulate air through the back of the cabin.

    A standard power moonroof brings an abundance of ambient light inside the cabin. A horseshoe-shaped overhead lamp in front and two smaller lamps in the rear illuminate the interior at night.

    A standard power trunk release makes it easier to load items into the back. The trunk is long, though not especially wide or deep top-to-bottom. Second-row seats fold flat using levers on the seatbacks to extend the cargo floor.

    Standard safety

    The Panamera comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes, stability and traction control. The all-wheel drive system automatically sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction.

    Porsche’s four-year/50,000 mile factory warranty includes complimentary roadside assistance.

    Porsche builds the Panamera at its Leipzig, Germany assembly plant.

    Likes: An elegant GT with outstanding performance, a spacious, versatile interior and cavernous trunk. The new V-6 engine offers a surprising amount of power and excellent fuel economy.

    Dislike: Metal touch points on the shift lever and steering wheel are difficult to use in hot weather.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Posche
    Model: Panamera 4
    Year: 2011
    Base price: $78,900
    As tested: $86,690
    Horsepower: 300 Hp @ 6200 rpm
    Torque: 295 lbs.-ft. @ 3750 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 5.8 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway*
    Comment: *The V-6 engine requires premium fuel.


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