The 2014 Porsche Panamera adds to the desirability of an already heady mix of performance, style, and functionality.
The second-generation Porsche Panamera strikes a balance between athleticism and practicality that few cars can match. At the same time, it's luxurious and feature-packed, with an exemplary range of gasoline, diesel, and hybrid powertrains.
The latest addition to the Panamera range, new for the 2014 model year, is the S E Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid designed to leverage Porsche's engineering strengths while delivering a combination of sporty driving and surprising gas mileage.
While the Panamera's styling is an acquired taste, from its extended roofline and slightly humped back, intended to echo the 911's fastback profile, the overall effect of the Panamera's exterior is appealing and definitely Porsche--if somewhat super sized. The cabin's refined finish and sports car-like layout is welcome up front; in the rear, the effect is more like that of an executive limo, with plenty of space and features. For 2014, a complete, though mild, redesign gives a more streamlined, swept-back look thanks to revised front and rear end treatments, a shallower windshield angle, and, on Executive models, longer rear doors.
From the base and Panamera 4 models, now sporting 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque from a 3.6-liter normally aspirated V-6 engine, to the Panamera Turbo at 520 horsepower from a 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, to the all-new Panamera S E-Hybrid's 416 horsepower from a 95-horsepower electric motor and 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 combo, there's plenty of pep at any point in the range, with room to upgrade for those seeking more get-up-and-go.
A new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 powers Panamera S, Panamera 4S, and Panamera 4S Executive models, rated at 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.
All versions except the Panamera S E-Hybrid come standard with Porsche's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle-shift manual mode. The E-Hybrid gets its own eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, also with manual-mode shift controls on the steering wheel. Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive with anti-slip regulation (ASR) is standard on all-wheel drive models.
As with the previous generation, there's ample cargo space inside the Panamera with the rear seats laid flat. The hatchback-like profile adds clearance for larger packages or luggage--Porsche claims two fully-assembled bicycles will fit in the rear. Fit, finish, and materials are all held to a high standard, and the driver-centric layout of the front row controls give a sporty look and feel.
As for features and electronics, Porsche offers many standard and optional systems, including standard ParkAssist distance-sensing, standard cruise control, a standard Porsche Communication Management system with 7.0-inch color touchscreen and navigation with 3D maps. A BOSE surround sound system with 14 speakers and 585 watts of total power (545 watts in Panamera S E-Hybrid models) is standard on Panamera Turbo models; an available Sport Chrono package (standard on Panamera GTS) with improved performance modes; and a range of highly adjustable power seat upgrades are also available.
On the safety front, Porsche offers a full complement of side, front, knee, and curtain airbags as standard, plus additional seat belt pre-tensioners, manual seat belt height adjustment, and LATCH child seat mounts, also standard on all models. You won't find some of the advanced safety electronics systems offered by other luxury performance sedans, such as night vision or pedestrian detection, however. The 2014 Porsche Panamera hasn't yet been crash-tested by the IIHS or NHTSA.