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2013 Porsche Panamera GTS Drive and Review By Dan Poler


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

By Dan Poler
Colorado Bureau
The Auto Channel

Introduction / History
2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

In a recent review, I wrote about how I’m impressed by compromise – almost every car has compromises; it’s a matter of where a manufacturer chooses to make them that makes most cars what they are.

The 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS is a fine example of what happens when a manufacturer makes no compromises. A car every bit at home on the highway, in the canyons, or on the track; seats four in comfort and luxury; holds ample cargo. This is a combination not easily matched.

Introduced in 2009, the Panamera upset many. A four-door? How dare Porsche make a car with broader appeal, they said. Despite the bumpy reception, the Panamera has gradually been accepted.

The Panamera GTS was first introduced in 2011; here in 2013, it’s one of the eight (!) configurations in which the Panamera is available. It sits in the lineup somewhat between the 4S and Turbo configurations, receiving – amongst many other updates – the former’s all wheel drive and naturally-aspirated 4.8L V8 (albeit, with upgraded air filter, intake, and cams, good for 430 HP vs. the 4S’ 400).

In addition, the GTS badge brings with it a host of other unique features, including a lowered ride height, widened front and rear tracks, custom interior trim, a more aggressive front end, and the automatic split rear spoiler from the Turbo.

Exterior Appearance

The GTS nose and lowered ride height give the front end an aggressive look, very similar to the 911. As we move our way towards the rear, however, It’s impossible to review the Panamera without mention of its bulbous tush. It’s clear that the designers at Porsche were trying to ensure the Panamera would be reminiscent of the 911… And it just didn’t quite get there.

That said, however, the back end design grew on me over the course of my time with the car. It is big, and it is bulbous, but it’s really rather pleasing up close and in person – much more so than in pictures. It does, however, make the car feel enormous. And make no mistake, with an overall length of 195 inches, the Panamera IS enormous, more than a foot and a half longer than a 911.

Interior Comfort and Styling

That enormous overall length contributes to the very roomy passenger cabin – The Panamera will more than easily accommodate tall passengers front and rear in total comfort even for extended trips.

The supportive sport seats are firm – maybe perhaps a bit too firm. They tended to get uncomfortable on longer drives, but perhaps they’ll break in with time. There are numerous controls for adjusting the front seats that take a little getting used to – and they’re inconveniently placed out of sight near the base of the front seats. The Alcantara fabric used throughout the car is a nice touch, but may over the long run be a challenge to keep clean if you intend to use the Panamera as a family car as it’s intended.

Fitting a car seat to a Porsche is something I never really considered that I’d do, but in the Panarema, I did so with no difficulty – truly, a family-friendly Porsche (that isn’t an SUV).

At first glance the dash may intimidate with its dizzying array of buttons – and there are buttons for EVERYTHING – however, the designers knew what they were doing. It didn’t take long to get used to the button setup, and I found it to be a pleasure to operate when compared to the complex menu-driven interfaces being used by BMW and Mercedes Benz.

Safety and Security

With enormous brakes, of-course-it’s-standard features like ABS and stability control, airbags throughout the cabin, the Panamera GTS carries with it all of the safety features you’d expect in a car of this caliber. Porsche offers a 4 year / 50,000 mile comprehensive warranty (including powertrain).

Ride and Handling

Driving Panamera GTS can be almost sedate, like driving an aerodynamic bank vault down the highway. It will more than happily cruise at 75 MPH on the interstate, and options like lane change assistance and blind spot detection make daily driving so much the easier. When on the highway, bumps are minimal thanks to the well-tuned suspension. Being a Porsche, however, it’s quite easy to find yourself quickly north of 100 MPH with very little change in the vehicle’s dynamics.

The Panamera GTS’ beauty does not, however, lie in highway cruising – it’s in the corners. The Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) keeps body roll to the barest minimum during aggressive cornering. I took the Panamera GTS for a drive on Colorado’s mountain and canyon highways and found the car to be perfectly adapted to such an environment. Driving through the canyons, the car just begs the driver to push further. Any sane driver on public roads will hit their own limitations far before the limitations of the car.

Performance

There’s nothing like driving a Porsche, and as a four-door, high performance variant, there’s nothing like driving a Panamera GTS. The 430 HP of the 4.7L V8 mated to the 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkuppleungsgetriebe, for those keeping track) transmission is more than adept at hauling around the more than two tons of car. From the very moment you start the car and hear the aggressive rev and exhaust note, the car is all about the driver’s experience.

Enable the Sport or Sport Plus mode and you’re in for a treat. Suspension tightens and lowers; shift points adjust; the Sound Symposer feeds the sound of the engine’s roar into the cabin. And what a sound that is. The growl of the big V8 is nothing short of a beautiful thing. And with a 0-60 of 4.3 seconds and a top track speed of 178 MPH, there’s plenty to back up that sound.

And with all this performance available to the driver, fuel economy averaged to a respectable 23 MPG during my time with the car. The GTS includes an auto start/stop function for the engine, turning it off at stop lights – I found this feature to be incredibly annoying – the engine will restart intermittently to keep the A/C running – but fortunately, it is easily disabled via a button on the dash.

Conclusion

Purists, beware – the Panamera is a bold sedan as only Porsche could build, and the GTS is bold performance as only Porsche could instill. Porsche has more than proven that the Panamera is a worthy addition to their stable.

For those looking to sacrifice nothing in performance while still transporting four in comfort and luxury, there may simply be nothing to top the Panamera GTS.

Specifications: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

Price as Tested: $135,060
Engine Type: V8
Engine Size: 4.8L
Horsepower: 430
Torque (lb-ft): 384
Transmission: 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK)
Wheelbase / Length (in):
Curb Weight: 4232 lb
Pounds per HP: 9.84
Fuel Capacity (gal): 26.4
Fuel Requirement: Premium
Tires: 255/45ZR19 front; 285/40ZR19 rear (Michelin Pilot Sport)
Brakes, front/rear: 15.4” vented rotors with 6-piston calipers / 13.8” vented rotors with 4-piston calipers
Suspension, front/rear: Aluminum double-wishbone / Aluminum multi-link
Ground clearance (in):
Drivetrain: Active all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 16 / 23 / 23
Base Trim Price: $109,900

Options and Charges
Option: Platinum Silver Metallic Paint - $790
Option: GTS Interior Package - $3,450
Option: Front and Rear Heated Seats - $525
Option: Lane Change Assist / Blind Spot Detection - $850
Option: Porsche Entry and Drive - $1,090
Option: ParkAssist (front and rear) with Reverse Camera - $1,255
Option: Servotronic Steering - $290
Option: Soundproof / Heat Resistant Glass - $1,240
Option: Luggage Compartment Retractable Rollup Cover - $150
Option: Air intake grilles in black - $1,120
Option: LED extended interior lighting - $1,020
Option: PDK Gear Selector in Alcantara - $865
Option: Painted Car Key - $335
Option: 20” Panamera Sport Wheels in Black - $3,375
Delivery: $975
Price as tested: $135,060