Introduced at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, the Porsche Panamera was – and is – a striking automobile, visually and performance-wise. Perhaps because it broke all the rules for traditional Porsche lovers, it's one of those cars that you either love or hate – there's no middle ground here.
In 2010, it was available in five versions: base, 4, S, 4S and Turbo. Base engine was a normally aspirated 4.8-litre V-8 that developed 400 horsepower, while the Turbo version added 100 more to that. A 300-horsepower V6 (officially designated as a 2011 model) came later in the year. Transmission was a seven-speed, with Porsche's Doppelkupplungsgetriebe – or PDK double clutch gearbox – the only choice. This gearbox could actually trace its lineage back to Le Mans racing Porsches campaigned back in the early 1980s.
On top of all that, you could also get the Panamera with rear- or all-wheel-drive, and the GTS Turbo definitely qualified as a supercar, with a 0-100 km/h acceleration of much less than five seconds and a top speed in the 300 km/h neighbourhood.
Unsurprisingly, equipment level was right up there and, depending upon the model, you could get a full leather interior, over-sized brakes, front and rear park assist and a heated steering wheel. The S model also came with a Chrono package, which included a couple of timers – analog and digital – and a "Sport Plus Mode" button. When activated, this latter item increased the engine's rpm limit, tightened up the suspension, lowered the car, temporarily dialled up the turbocharger's boost and made the brakes 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.
Porsche described the 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 remix of the famous Carrera PanAmericana race through Mexico, held during the 1950s.
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 switchgear were located on the centre console around the shift lever, and the ambience of the interior was that of a top-flight luxury car.
Transport Canada has one recall on file for the 2010 Panamera. It concerns the front seats, which, at some settings, could result in the seat belt locking mechanism failing, which would not protect the occupants in the event of a front-ender. This recall affects all models of the Panamera for this year, but is easily repaired by dealers.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 16 technical service bulletins for the 2010 Panamera. These range from leaky power steering assemblies, to the engine warning light coming on randomly, to software issues with the PDK transmission, to a vague caution about a "reduction in comfort" after several attempts to start the vehicle have been made. There is also a warning specifically directed at the Turbo models; some may have come out of the factory without the high-pressure fuel pumps this drivetrain needs. Dealers will install the correct pump for those models that are affected.
Not much info from Consumer Reports but it does say that the Panamera has a beautifully finished interior and offers superior performance. Comments from owners include: "The greatest driving experience I have ever had," "Takes the turns as if it's on a rail" and "Absolutely perfect."
Mixed reviews from market research firm J.D. Power. It loves the Panamera's performance, powertrain quality and interior quality, but is less than enthusiastic about overall mechanical quality, features and accessories quality and comfort. The 2010 Panamera gets an "about average" grade for overall quality from this organization, but a "better-than-most" grade for predicted reliability.
For buyers who have been watching for the price to come down on a used Panamera, you've got some waiting to do. Even a base V-6 is priced well into the $70,000 neighbourhood, and a V-8 4S is another 10-large on top of that. A used Turbo model is up and over the $90,000-$100,000 mark.
2010 Porsche Panamera
Original Base Price: $115,100; Black Book: $82,875-$120,300; Red Book: $72,100-$96,500
Engine: Normally aspirated 4.8-litre V-8/turbocharged V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 400 hp/369 lb-ft normally aspirated V-8; 500 hp/567 lb-ft for turbo
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.9 city/8.3 highway (non-turbo); premium gas
Alternatives: Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, Audi A8, BMW 750i