TEXT ALBERT TAY
Panamera系列沿袭保时捷911车款的风格。911是保时捷的传奇系列，可不是一般跑车。虎父无犬子，最新Panamera Turbo写下了7分38秒的Nürburgring北环单圈记录。这个记录，跟顶级跑车如Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera、Ferrari 458 Italia、Lexus LFA等几年前取得的成绩是一样的。
Panamera Turbo搭载全新4.0升Biturbo双涡轮V8引擎，输出马力可达550匹，比前身款超出30匹马力；燃油效率也比前款高30%。新款Panamera Turbo，是保时捷第一款引擎设置汽缸休止系统（adaptive cylinder control）的车子；状况允许时，汽缸运作数目会自动从八个减至四个。
在台中湖区，我们试驾了最新Panamera的不同车型（新加坡推出的有Panamera入门款、Panamera 4S、Panamera 4S柴油驱动、Panamera Turbo等）。当然，我不是赛车手，无法达到306km/h的极速，也没有办法证实3.6秒的0至100km/h加速时间，但这不是我们的目的。
车子内部，采用全新的“保时捷先进驾驶舱”，中控台和仪表板看来比前身款设计得更有品味。触屏显示和控制的品质，以及操作逻辑，跟保时捷的先进形象吻合。如果要有更大的车内空间和更多的配备，可以考虑长轴版的Panamera Turbo Executive。
Sun, Moon and a Star Performer
Has the Porsche Panamera finally managed to redefine sports and luxe?
In April, I wrote about a road trip in Northern Thailand where I met the descendants of Kuomintang (KMT) troops that had fled to the mountainous area. The soldiers had fled from China were Communist forces had overthrown the Nationalist government. Just weeks later, I was flying in from China for the Porsche Panamera road trip on the island where the rest of the Nationalist forces and supporters had settled—Taiwan. We arrived at the central part of the island endowed with a scenic lake seemingly shaped like the Sun and Moon. Porsche arranged for us to have dinner at the Lalu which was the site of the then KMT leader General Chiang Kai Shek’s lakeside residence. Was it all a cosmic coincidence?
The politics and history added to the sense of occasion when we sampled Stuttgart’s second-generation Grand Tourer in the lake region. You can get some idea from inspiration behind the name to appreciate Porsche’s concept. “Panamera” is derived from the endurance race “Carrera Panamericana” held in the 1950s. The Panamera needs to have the qualities of a sports car that is capable of winning a long-distance race. It also has to be a proper luxury saloon with four spacious seats. Also, its styling must reflect Porsche’s sports and design heritage.
The Panamera had to be modeled after not just any sports car but the legendary 911. To demonstrate its racing pedigree, the new Panamera Turbo set a record on the Nürburgring for luxury saloons. The 7:38 timing is the same as that achieved a few years ago by supercars such as the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Lexus LFA! To be able to achieve such performance using stock tyres on such a tough track known as the “Green Hell” is truly impressive. You are not going to be anywhere as comfortable in a supercar as the Panamera which weighs in at two tons. And consider this: the performance is 18 seconds faster on the ‘Ring than the previous Panamera Turbo. I tried variants of the first-generation Panamera on the Sepang track and they were by no means slow. The level of improvement is nothing short of phenomenal. It lends credence to Porsche’s claim that the new Panamera has been totally reworked. The Panamera Turbo comes with a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine featuring biturbos that delivers 30 more horses (550hp) and manages to be more fuel efficient by up to 30 per cent. It does so by being the first Porsche to have adaptive cylinder control which transforms the eight-cylinder power plant into a four-cylinder engine when conditions allow.
Around the lake district of central Taiwan, we tried out different variants of the Panamera. Of course we couldn’t reach any where near the 306km/h top speed or 3.6 seconds century sprint that the Panamera Turbo is capable of but that was not the point. You have to work a bit harder when you’re in the entry-level variant trying the chase the better-endowed siblings up the hilly terrain. But you never feel the weight or size of the new Panamera which bristles with driver aids such as 4D Chassis Control and the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and rear axle steering. Coupled with the new eight-speed PDK II transmission, no wonder the Panamera could dance around the ‘Ring that much faster than the previous generation with only 30 more hp. The Bentley Continental Supersports claims to be the fastest luxury four seater on the planet but until it is proven on the ‘Ring, I remain sceptical.
The biggest question mark surrounding the first-generation Panamera was the styling. It was always going to be a tall order to design a high-performance car in the mould of the iconic 911 shaped as a large four-door saloon.
The external styling of the new Panamera is much more cohesive especially in the way the roof and shoulder lines meld together like those of a “stretched 911”. To my eyes, Porsche has finally achieved a design that is a sporty and spacious sedan without sacrificing too much rear headroom even though the rear roofline is now 20 mm lower. Or as Porsche likes to say, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
The Panamera cannot be a true sports car without a functional spoiler yet a fixed rear wing would ruin the elegant silhouette of a luxury saloon. The Panamera Turbo solves this aesthetic challenge by having a deployable rear spoiler that fits seamlessly into the boot when retracted. This cool feature is a design winner that shows form and function working as one.
The interior’s centrepiece, the centre console and dashboard have been tastefully updated with the Porsche Advanced Cockpit. The touch-screen displays and controls have the quality and logic you would expect from Porsche. For those who wish to have more legroom and equipment, there is the Panamera Turbo Executive. Even the most spoiled will feel pampered without giving up much on sportiness due to the long wheelbase.
On the whole, the second-generation Panamera is a compelling fusion of a 911 and a luxury saloon. I won’t be surprised that other makers follow in the footsteps of this Porsche luxury sedan just like they did when the Cayenne launched the luxury SUV segment.