When it comes to the 2017 Porsche Panamera, the question isn’t what’s new — it’s what isn’t new.
With the only shared component on the car being the badge on the hood, here are some of the key highlights:
1. New Look
Gone is the bubble-like shape that made the car look a bit like a Volkswagen Beetle that got caught in a panini press, replaced by a sharper profile that is lower, longer and sleeker. It also leans much more heavily on the likes of the 911 for stylistic inspiration, particularly when it comes to the wide rear haunches.
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2. Rear-Wheel Steering
For the first time, Porsche’s four-door sports car is available with rear-wheel steering. Like the standard system on the 911 GT3 RS, the optional system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction of front wheels at speeds below 30 mph to a maximum angle of 2.8 degrees for an effect called “virtual wheelbase shortening” — allowing for a much shorter turning radius than is typical of a car that stretches a shade shorter than 200 inches. At speeds above 30 mph, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the front wheels for increased stability.
3. Trio of Twin-Turbos
The car is available with a trio of new engines, all of which feature twin turbos located in their cylinder banks. North American cars are available with the choice of 2.9-liter V6 or 4.0-liter V8 gas engines, while the rest of the world also gets a 4.0-liter diesel. The smaller of the two engines makes 440 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm, while the burly eight-cylinder is good for 550 horsepower and 567 lb-ft of twist at 1,960 rpm.
4. Eight-Speed PDK
The second-generation Panamera is the first Porsche to feature an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, replacing the seven-speed unit of old. The first six gears are traditional drive gears, while the last two are overdrive gears. And the best news is it’s designed to withstand up to 740 lb-ft of torque, meaning more powerful Panameras are likely.
5. Sport Response
First introduced on the 918 Spyder, the sport response button acts like overboost, unleashing maximum power for 20-second increments while also dropping as many as five gears at a time. If 20 seconds isn’t enough, simply hit the button again.
6. Riding on a Cloud
A new three-chamber air suspension, which is optional on the Panamera 4S and standard on the Turbo, replaces the two-chamber unit on the last Panamera and boasts 60 percent more volume.
7. Earth-Scorching Speed
With the Sport Chrono package equipped on the Panamera 4S, the car sprints from zero to 60 mph in four seconds flat. Add it to the Panamera Turbo, and expect to run from rest to 60 mph in an otherworldly 3.4 seconds, faster than every Porsche model on the market this side of the 911 Turbo.
8. Adding Aluminum
The first-generation Panamera was built with an aluminum hood, hatch and door skins. The 2017 car gets those aluminum components plus an aluminum roof and side panels. It does little to lighten the load, though, with the car tipping the scales at 4,123 lb in 4S guise and 4,398 in Turbo trim. That compares to the the same unladen weight in the outgoing 4S and the old Turbo’s 4,343 lb curb weight.
9. It Can See in the Dark
The new Panamera has a night vision assist system that uses a thermal imaging camera to display people and large animals. It is able to classify the heat source and distinguish between living and inanimate objects.
Not available in North America at launch, the InnoDrive system takes adaptive cruise control to the next level, using navigation data to read the road about two miles ahead, taking corner radiuses, grades and speed limits into account to adjust the car’s performance.