Buckle up, Porsche enthusiasts! The new third-generation Porsche Panamera is here and it isn’t quite the expansive upgrade many might’ve been expecting. Instead, we’ve got incremental improvements and design updates. So what’s different?
The G3 follows Porsche’s incremental design philosophy, and fans of model codes will be delighted with the transition from G2. Subtle yet striking changes catch the eye, such as a revamped grille with an additional inlet above the front number plate. The arches now boast a more pronounced look, taking inspiration from the iconic 911. At the rear, a frameless window, redesigned lightbar, and a slightly larger black plastic area contribute to the 911-esque vibe.
Porsche introduces the G3 lineup with the Panamera 4 and the mid-range Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid. The Panamera 4 flaunts a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 generating 348bhp and 369lb ft of torque. Meanwhile, the Turbo E-Hybrid combines a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with a 25.9kWh (gross) battery and an integrated electric motor, delivering a staggering 671bhp and 686lb ft of torque.
Brace yourself for the full-fat Turbo S E-Hybrid, promising even higher numbers than its predecessor’s 690bhp. V8 enthusiasts can anticipate a non-hybrid GTS variant, while a V6 hybrid and a rear-wheel-drive V6, simply named ‘Panamera,’ cater to diverse preferences. However, it seems the non-hybrid Turbo S might be skipping this generation.
In a surprising twist, Porsche bids adieu to the Panamera Sport Turismo, leaving enthusiasts without an estate option. Despite the setback, Porsche compensates with electrifying news – the PHEV Panameras now boast an impressive 56-mile electric range in city driving, a substantial upgrade from the previous 34 miles. The secret? A larger battery, improved efficiency, enhanced aerodynamics, regen braking, and reduced rolling resistance.
Porsche claims a complete transformation of the Panamera’s suspension system. Brace yourself for air suspension across all models, featuring a standard setup with two air chambers and twin-valve dampers for independent rebound and compression adjustments. The optional Porsche Active Ride system, equipped with a 48-volt electrohydraulic system, introduces a slew of party tricks, including ‘comfort access,’ ‘dynamic ground clearance,’ ‘active cornering,’ and ‘acceleration and braking comfort.’ According to Christoph Bittner, a Porsche chassis expert, this is “the best chassis system available on the market.”
Inside, the Panamera showcases a screen fest, revealed earlier this month by Porsche. Picture this: a 12.6-inch curved driver display, a 12.3-inch central touchscreen, and an optional 10.9-inch passenger screen. The long-wheelbase Executive version returns for the Chinese market, whilein the UK, you can opt for 21-inch center lock wheels, a first for the Panamera.
The Game-Changer: Porsche's Active Ride
The big new feature, available as an option, is the Active Ride system. This active suspension system boasts a single-chamber air suspension unit and a two-valve damper, reacting to changes in the road surface and the driver’s actions. It offers a seamless tilt into bends, combats acceleration and braking forces, and even raises the car for easier access.
CAR had the opportunity to drive the Panamera and actually experience the Active Ride system. They said that simply pulling on the door handle with lower the car for easy access. However, while it excels in lateral forces, leaning into corners with precision, acceleration and braking hard don’t feel quite right. You get a controlled forward tilt during acceleration like a helicopter, and a boat-like feeling when braking hard. While impressive, the system may need some fine-tuning, according to CAR, especially compared to similar tech from Audi.
Ultimately, CAR came to the conclusion that even without the Active Ride magic, the Panamera remains an impressive handler. Fluid steering, predictable body control, and minimal lateral roll characterize the driving experience. Hard acceleration and braking responses may even be preferred without Active Ride. While ruts and potholes are less jolting with the technology engaged, the Panamera continues its legacy as one of the best-handling four-door luxury cars.
As we anticipate the market launch in 2024, we’re eager to witness how this technology evolves and refines its way into the hearts of Porsche enthusiasts.