Porsche Panamera Turbo S: Ready for lift-off

Strong points
  • Very powerful engine
  • High performance all-wheel drive
  • Dual-clutch gearbox
  • Supreme comfort
  • Guaranteed prestige
Weak points
  • Questionable shape
  • Stratospheric price
  • Cost of options
  • High fuel consumption
Full report

$208,925: That’s the amount appears on the recently test driven Porsche Panamera Turbo S’s specs sheet. For a car that always seems to be ready for lift-off, it seems appropriate that its price should be stratospheric.

As if the 500-hp Panamera Turbo wasn’t powerful enough, the letter S added to its name means that horsepower climbs to 550 with 553 lbs-ft of torque to boot. These numbers are comparable to those of an exotic sports car, but instead they are for a premium sedan. If you plan on driving the Panamera Turbo S, you better make sure that the road ahead of you is clear before accelerating: it generates a more than imperious boost that literally catapults the car forward with controlled ferocity.

Although both are Panameras, the GTS and Turbo S have unique personalities. The GTS is the hot rod: a feline that’s constantly ready to pounce with an engine that loves to flirt with the red zone. The Turbo S is the TGV and features a solid, continuous thrust that can happen at any time and at any speed. Passing on back roads is child’s play with the Turbo S. You push down on the accelerator and there’s a slight lag while the dual-clutch gearbox downshifts before the turbochargers deliver their full thrust. This slight lag is followed by nothing less than a missile launch.

To create the Panamera Turbo S, Porsche’s engineers made certain changes to the engine of the “regular” Turbo. Thus, the turbocharger blades are made from a titanium alloy (a material that is two times lighter than what is used for the Panamera Turbo’s turbochargers) to reduce but not completely eliminate response time (it still takes a fraction of a second). What’s more, the electronic engine controller map is modified to deliver even more insane accelerations than those of the Panamera Turbo. To get the most out of the car’s performances, all you have to do is press the Sport Plus button to make the suspension more firm and delay shifting. You can also push another button that acts on the exhaust system to produce an even more evocative sound. All of that will make driving this car on Canadian roads a risky proposition, since the speed increases so quickly – and in what remains supreme comfort – that you’ll often be surprised to find that you’re driving at speeds that are well above the legal limit.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Like any Porsche, the Panamera Turbo S comes with brakes that perform as well as the engine does. Deceleration is either straightforward or intense depending on the pressure you put on the brake pedal, and the ABS intervenes only when absolutely necessary. Ditto for the electronic stability control and its almost outrageous lateral acceleration in turns before discretely calming things down. Handling is astounding, but the Panamera Turbo S doesn’t have the athleticism of a 911 Carrera S: with the engine housed up front, the lateral transition in turns is slower. However, you’ll have to be going pretty fast to notice, which might attract some unwanted attention from the local police.

The passenger compartment of the Turbo S isn’t all that different from that of the other trim levels in the line-up, with the exception of the Turbo S inscription on the rev counter. The same goes for the body, where the same inscription adorns the rear hatch. More expensive and exclusive than the Panamera Turbo, the Turbo S helps the buyer stand out and most importantly to show that he has the means to turn the power and price up a notch, which is perfect if you want to one-up the neighbours.

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