Porsche Panamera 3.6 V6 PDK review
by David Finlay (5 April 2011)
Back in the early days of motoring, the engineer Laurence Pomeroy identified a situation that was already apparent even then, in which "the ignoramus assumed that an eight-cylinder model must be twice as good as a four, and so on". There is a risk that the same thought process might be applied to the Porsche Panamera. Most Panameras have 4.8-litre V8 engines, either turbocharged or not, and it's quite possible that they will automatically be considered superior to the car reviewed here, one of the few in the range which has a 3.6-litre V6.
Why would this be a problem? Because the non-turbo V8 produces a maximum of 400bhp, while the turbo extends to 500bhp. The V6 manages a relatively modest 300bhp. The "psychology of numerical appraisal", as Pomeroy called it, will naturally have the effect of steering many people away from the V6.
Really, though, the Panamera doesn't need a V8 engine, and I'm tempted to suggest that the only reason for buying one that does is to show that you can afford the extra expense. The V6 is a very fine unit - powerful, quiet, smooth-running, and with less of a tendency to bark into life than the V8 we reviewed last year demonstrated, somewhat to my alarm.
You can surely cope with the fact that, with the seven-speed PDK twin-clutch semi-automatic transmission of the test car, the V6 "only" accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and can "only" continue to a top speed of 161mph. Do you actually need it to be faster than this? No, you don't. It's far more important that the Panamera is very comfortable, and has a quite astonishing amount of passenger room.
I would change some things about it, though. The suspension is a little underdamped for UK roads, and may require you to make several steering corrections to counteract a certain front-end vagueness in corners. Reversing is a nightmare because there is so little glass area at the rear. And although I should by this time have got used to Porsche's habit of marking out the speedometer in intervals of 25mph, I still find it pointless and arrogant.
As ever with Porsche, there is no lack of opportunity for spending money on optional extras. The combination of what is described as "espresso full natural leather" upholstery and front-seat position memory will set you back more than £4000, while four-zone automatic air-conditioning, rear "comfort seats" and a powered sunblind cost well over £2000. £1200 or so gets you 19" wheels and low-profile tyres which don't suit the suspension very well, but at the same time don't make the ride as rough as I was expecting them to.