Having driven the go-faster version of the Porsche Panamera Turbo abroad some time ago, we now get to experience the range-topper in the UK, where it adds £23k the standard model’s six-figure price. Chiefly, what that buys you is bragging rights.
Porsche has swapped out the two turbochargers on its V8 engine for those with an even healthy capacity for forcing air through the engine. With the pressure up by 20 bar, the pistons have been made from a new aluminium alloy to compensate.
The net result turns up the wick from 512bhp to 562bhp. The peak twist advantage is more slender – from 516lb ft to 553lb ft at 2250rpm – although full-throttle overboost takes it all the way to 590lb ft. Impressively, this hike in potency has apparently not harmed efficiency. Porsche has recorded the same optimistic 27.7mpg for the S as it did for the Turbo.
Elsewhere, most of Porsche’s favourite acronyms come fitted as standard. PASM, PDCC, PTV and PDCC (or active air suspension, active anti-roll bars, torque vectoring and ceramic brakes to you and me) are all on board, as are 20-inch wheels, sat-nav and a full-leather interior.
Using the launch control of the seven-speed PDK, the Turbo S hits 62mph in a claimed 3.8sec – about 0.3sec quicker than the standard Turbo and a shade faster than Audi claims for the manual R8 V10.
Unexpectedly effortless to drive because, truthfully, the advantages of the V8’s bigger-lunged prodigiousness show at much slower speeds, where it spends most of its time employed in making the Panamera’s ample two-tonne mass feel preposterously featherlight.
There are other pleasures, too. In stark contrast to some rivals, it’s a joy to short-shift and then work hard from a high gear – building crank and road speed with the kind of large-chested harmony that makes a V8 such a satisfying donkey in the first place.
Of course, there is some appeal to simply wringing its neck as well, but this can become wearisome. Partly this is because its gearing, refinement and running gear make its express-lane attitude more about achieving autobahn super-cruise than going ‘bang’ on a B-road.
Partly it’s because the all-wheel-drive Panamera is a micro-processed car to drive – forever modifying its own strategy for all that tug, regardless of what you do. But mostly it’s because the English countryside just feels too small (and heavily surveilled) to accommodate the S’s appetite for excess.
Sure, the Turbo S is gratifying and astounding and a greaser of journey time par excellence, but it’s not the best Panamera (that honour goes to the nearly £50k-cheaper, rear-driven V6 S) and nor is it king of extravagant sports saloons. For that, you’ll need the additional £15k that buys an Aston Martin Rapide, a slower car with considerably more character.