Here’s another in my series of ones that got away – cars that I’ve encountered over the years and wish I’d kept.
But in this case, I couldn’t have afforded it in the first place. When it was introduced in 2010, the Porsche Panamera was priced in the $120,000 neighbourhood – before taxes.
Hard to believe this model has been with us for a decade now.
Happily, the 2010-era Panamera is within range for hopeful buyers. Look hard and you may find a decent one priced in the $25,000-to-35,000 range, which makes it very tempting.
Introduced at the 2009 Auto Shanghai, the Porsche Panamera was – and is – a striking automobile, visually and performance-wise. It has a kind of muscularity about it, but not clumsy or overdone, and features a visual presence few others can match. Perhaps because it broke all the rules for traditional Porsche lovers, it seems to be one of those cars that you either love or hate. There is no middle ground.
Initially, it was available in five versions: base, 4, S, 4S and Turbo. The base engine was a normally-aspirated 4.8-litre V8 that developed 400 horsepower, while the Turbo version added 100 more. A 300-horsepower V6 came later in the year.
Transmission was a seven-speed, with Porsche’s Doppelkupplungsgetriebe – or PDK double clutch gearbox – the only choice. This gearbox actually traces its lineage back to the Le Mans-racing Porsches that campaigned in the early 1980s.
You could also get the Panamera with rear- or all-wheel-drive.
And the GTS Turbo definitely qualified as a supercar, with a zero-to-100 km/h acceleration of well under five seconds and a top speed in the 300 km/h neighbourhood.
Needless to say, the equipment level was right up there and, depending on the model, you could get things like a full leather interior, oversized brakes, front and rear park assist and a heated steering wheel. The S model also came with Chrono package, which included a couple of timers – analogue and digital – and a Sport Plus Mode button. When activated, this button increased the engine’s rpm limit, tightened up the suspension, lowered the car, temporarily dialed up the turbocharger’s boost and made the brakes a little more responsive.
For hard-core enthusiasts, there was also a launch control mode, which bumped up engine revs to 5,000 rpm when you simultaneously held the brake down and tromped the gas pedal.
Inside, the Panamera had the familiar Porsche trademark ignition key on the left and there was a surprising amount of headroom and elbow room. Most of the car’s myriad functions and switch gear were located on the centre console around the shift lever, and the ambiance of the interior was that of a top-flight luxury car. It was, and is, an absolute delight to drive.
It’s also turned out to be a reasonably dependable car, with a few caveats. For example, a simple oil change is not so simple; because it has two oil filters and requires a special hoist attachment to get the car up in the air, owners can expect to pay up to $500 for this service. And this is definitely not one of those cars where you can do it yourself.
Porsche described the early Panamera as a “four-door hatchback,” which was really just semantics. It was and is a four-door sedan and the name originated as a kind of remix of the famous Carrera PanAmericana race through Mexico, held during the 1950s.
However you want to describe it, the Panamera remains a stunner. It’s one of those cars that, once you slide behind the wheel, you just want to keep on going. That’s exactly how I felt when I first drove one and nothing has changed.
Who knows, maybe I’ll own one some day.
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).