What You Learn After Driving The Porsche Panamera Turbo

You don’t need to drive it. You don’t need to do a launch. You don’t need to go around a corner. You don’t even need to start the engine. You just need to look at it. And you need to sit in it. You definitely need to sit in it.

The Panamera used to be good to drive and only good to drive. That’s because, other than a few deranged people who like the way it looked, it wasn’t considered beautiful (Full disclosure: I was one of the deranged). A sedan that looked like a 911 crashed into a Volkswagen Golf rather than something traditionally pretty, they’d say. The Panamera wasn’t traditionally beautiful, but at least it wasn’t boring.

This time, Porsche has built something gorgeous. The design shouldn’t be that shocking; we saw it as the Sport Turismo Concept at the Paris Motor Show just a few years ago. The awkward lines of the old car are gone, replaced by a sleek suit and a three-piece wing that was seemingly built for Instagram. There are great little details everywhere you look, like the three-dimensional treatment on the taillights. The concept behind the design of both Panameras might be the same–a Porsche sports car with two more doors–but the new Panamera is striking to everyone who sees it… in a positive way.

The interior, which wasn’t a weak spot in the old car, is somehow a huge, huge upgrade. It all feels futuristic, like it was designed for the 2025 Panamera and accidentally put in the 2017 model. Most buttons have been replaced by capacitive sensors that light up in bright white or red. Unlike the buttons on Cadillac’s CUE system, these work and feel natural. The new infotainment system is intuitive with a giant screen. There’s a center aircon vent you control through that system. The seats have massage, like, real massage.

How it drives is the most striking part of the Panamera. You expect it to be good. You don’t expect it to be this good. This Panamera Turbo, which has no hybrid tech on board whatsoever, weighs in at approximately 4,400 pounds. That is not light. It’s the sort of weight that’d make you expect the Panamera to be relaxing on the highway but floaty and unresponsive in corners.

The Panamera has the VW Group’s new Porsche-developed 4.0 liter V8 with 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. That all goes through a new eight-speed PDK dual clutch gearbox, which is just as good as, or better than, the benchmark ZF eight-speed automatic. That combines to make it a 4,400 pound car that can get to 60 in 3.4 seconds and destroy a backroad, all while giving you a Shiatsu massage and updating you on the latest news. It’s quite a thing.

The Panamera is supposed to translate the Porsche sports car experience into something that can chauffeur executives one minute and do a blistering back road run the next. That’s exactly what Porsche has done. And now it’s all in a package that looks as good outside as it is brilliant underneath.