Ten years ago, Porsche launched into a new market segment that traditionalists were wary of – the four-door sedan. With the Panamera, the passenger car, err sports car manufacturer showed its first Gran Turismo in April 2009.
No modest hype from what used to be a race car purveyor. It was positioned as “Like no other car in the luxury car class, this model combines the performance one would expect from a sports car with the luxury and versatility of a touring saloon.” (Milestones – 500,000 Porsche Cayenne Made in Leipzig)
The skeptics, including this one, were wrong, even though the SUV class was hot and getting hotter – pointing to a trend, still ongoing, for more room. Porsche initially planned production of 20,000 cars per year. Panamera has seen more than 235,000 cars delivered so far.
“As a technology platform for innovations that were later transferred to other models, the Panamera has played a significant role in shaping the past ten years of the brand’s history,” says Michael Steiner, then first Vice President of the product line, today Member of the Executive Board Research and Development.
“With its high-performance hybrid variants, it is now above all a trailblazer for electro-mobility at Porsche.” The current, second model generation is manufactured entirely in the Porsche plant in Leipzig and comes in three different body variants.
Four-Seater Prototype Based on the 356
Porsche for four – over the course of the company’s more than 70-year history, Porsche engineers kept coming back to this once daft idea. In the 1950s, they developed a comfortable four-seater based on the 356 – the bathtub Porsche beloved by Janice Joplin, to say nothing of the people who raced them. The Type 530 had a lengthened wheelbase, larger doors and a raised roof at the rear.
Others followed, including a four-door prototype based on the 911 and, in the 1980s, lengthened variants of the 928. Ferry Porsche used one of these as his private car (Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, 911 Designer, Dead at 76). In 1988, Porsche made a new attempt with the Type 989: the four-door coupé offered space for two full seats in the rear. The drive power was provided by a V8 front engine. Design elements from the 989 were later incorporated into the 911 of the 993 generation. Like similar concepts before it, however, the 989 remained a prototype. For economic reasons, development was discontinued in 1992.
Mirage, Meteor and Phantom
At the beginning of the new millennium, Porsche conducted market studies, analyzed competition and decided once again to develop a four-door hatchback saloon. Stepping into the luxury class was to no small extent the wish of then Chairman of the Executive Board, Wendelin Wiedeking. (How Many Doors does a Coupe Have?) Included in the specifications were outstanding driving dynamics, generous space conditions and a quintessentially Porsche appearance.
Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche, says, “We wanted to build a four-seater sports car with a fast roofline, large tailgate and hatchback.” During the design process, the three concepts “Mirage”, “Meteor” and “Phantom” were studied. The later production model would have most in common with the beefy Mirage. In the end, elements from all three variants were used – and a new name was chosen: Panamera, inspired by the Mexican endurance race “Carrera Panamericana.”
The Panamera’s first official appearance on 19 April 2009 was expensive: Porsche invited media from all over the world to a press conference on the 94th floor of the World Financial Center in Shanghai. The Panamera was maneuvered upright into a freight elevator by means of a purpose-built carriage. This took 60 members of staff several hours, and just one minute for the lift to ascend 400 meters.
The first Panamera – known as G1 internally – arguably set standards in its class thanks to the wide spread between sportiness and comfort. And it was packed with innovations: for the first time, a luxury class production model was offered with a transmission and start-stop system. The top model Panamera Turbo also introduced air suspension with additional air volume on demand, as well as an adjustable, multi-dimensional extendable rear spoiler. The Gran Turismo also foreshadowed all other Porsche model lines with its new instrument display and operating concept.
The model range grew rapidly and this far sustainably, culminating in an engine range covering power output from 250 to 550 PS with petrol, diesel and hybrid drives as well as rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. In the beginning, the naturally aspirated V6 and V8 engines were available with a six-speed manual transmission. Most customers opted for the seven-speed Porsche dual clutch transmission – PDK. Diesel and hybrid drives were available in combination with an eight-stage automatic transmission.
The Executive variant with extended wheelbase – mainly for Chinese customers – appeared as part of the 2013 facelift (Porsche 911 RSR, Panamera Executive Debut at Los Angeles). The engines became more powerful, developing up to, gulp, 570 PS. The Panamera has been hugely important for Porsche: The Gran Turismo established the brand in a new market segment – and helped to firmly anchor it in the strong growth market of China.
Gen 2 – 2016 on
The development of the second Panamera generation (G2) was varied given the global nature of the business: in addition to the Gran Turismo with a standard and extended wheelbase, a third variant was developed on the same platform – Sport Turismo. From 2017, its design and body concept brought more versatility to the luxury vehicle class. The “Concept Sport Turismo” was presented for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in 2012. The much-noticed concept was a precursor to the second Panamera generation, which celebrated its world premiere on June 28, 2016.
The G2 was even zoomier and plusher, but with the same large space: the roofline fell away sooner, the rear had a slight counter curve, the horizontal tail lights emphasized the brand identity. The body once again housed a number of innovations, including a new, digitized display and operating concept.
Because of chassis systems like the three-chamber air suspension, rear-axle steering and the PDCC Sport electromechanical roll stabilization system, the Panamera was both a street racer and a track racer. This was underpinned by a lap time of 7:38 minutes on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife – set by Porsche works driver Lars Kern in a standard Panamera Turbo. (Two New Porsche Panamera GTS models)
The engine range was consistently optimized, while the power output values were increased: new engines were introduced across the range, and the transmission was now an eight-speed PDK. The power output spectrum started at 330 PS, today the top model is a 680 PS plug-in hybrid.
Supercar Hybrid models
Porsche set the stage for electromobility with the Panamera in 2011. As the first parallel full hybrid in the luxury class, the Panamera S Hybrid was the most economical Porsche to date despite a power output of 380 PS. Two years later, the Panamera S E-Hybrid once again led the way in the segment as the world’s first plug-in hybrid – with 416 PS and an all-electric range of 36 kilometers. In the second Panamera generation, Porsche embraced electric performance across all model variants: the boost strategy adapted from the 918 Spyder supercar enabled performance of the kind typically associated with sports cars, but combined with high efficiency – both in the 462 PS Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and in the top model Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid with a system power output of 680 PS.
“With the G2, we managed to carry over the performance-oriented hybrid strategy from the 918 Spyder into the luxury segment,” says Gernot Döllner, Vice President Product Line Panamera from 2011 to 2018, and today responsible for product concept development at Porsche. This strategy was well received by customers: in 2018, 67% of all Panamera models delivered in Europe had a hybrid drive.
Panamera Turbo: Fuel consumption combined 10.4 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined 238 g/km
Panamera 4 E-Hybrid: Fuel consumption combined 2.7 – 2.6 l/100 km; power consumption combined: 16.1 – 16.0 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined 62 – 60 g/km
Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid: Fuel consumption combined 3.3 l/100 km; power consumption combined: 16.0 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined 74 g/km
The consumption and CO2 emission values were determined in accordance with the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). The NEDC values derived from this should continue to be specified for the time being. These values cannot be compared to the values determined in accordance with the NEDC measuring procedure used up to now.
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