There are 3.6-litre V6 or 4.8-litre V8 petrol engines, as well as a hybrid that uses a 3.0-litre engine with an electric motor, and a diesel – and none is short of pace. The V8 S and 4S are fast, but the performance is effortless rather than ballistic. The GTS has a slightly more powerful version, but the same is true. In the Turbo, acceleration is brutal – and the Turbo S is faster still. The diesel is usefully flexible, but with the V6 petrol, you’re conscious of having to work it hard.
Most Panameras ride on conventional steel springs and you can switch between three settings: Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus. The GTS and Turbo models have air suspension (optional on the other models), which has the same settings. Whichever you choose, the ride is firm around town, but supple at speed. Despite its size, the Panamera handles like a ‘proper’ Porsche, but the Hybrid runs wide earlier than a conventional model, especially if you specify low-rolling-resistance tyres.
Whatever the speed or surface, you barely hear a peep from the outside world. Gearchanges from the semi-automatic ’box are generally quick and slick, but can be clunky around town. There’s also an annoying pause between pressing the accelerator and the car moving away. The V8 engines are hushed when you want, but sound fantastic when you give them a footful of pedal. Sadly, the Hybrid’s engine sounds thrashy, and the diesel has a muted rumble that never lets you forget it’s a diesel.
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