By Cars.com EditorsMay 30, 2014
About the video
Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says the odd-duck exterior styling of Porsche's four-seat hatchback, the 2014 Panamera, will either have high-dollar car buyers flocking or fleeing.
(upbeat music) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for cars.com here with the Porsche Panamera. Now in its fifth year, as Porsche's challenger to top shelf luxury flagship sedans, but the Panamera is technically not a sedan. It's actually a four-seat hatchback.
And that makes for some interesting details. We'll show you more. If there's an elephant in the room with the Panamera, it has to be styling. It's been controversial ever since the car came out, kind of a big long bloated tale sort of update on the 911, even though the two are on completely different platforms. The Panamera is front engine. The 911 is rear engine here. There's an even longer version, believe it or not, now called the executive version of the Panamera. It adds about a half foot of overall length. Without the executive version over a length under 200 inches, pretty small for this class, again, if you're comparing it to a flagship luxury sedans. A few changes for 2014 include updates to the front end, the rear light updates there, plus new LED headlights. Let's get inside and take a look. The Panamera was one of the first cars to incorporate this sort of flowing waterfall kind of center stack design with Porsche's traditional upright dashboard. That's sort of a look that's gone across the rest of Porsche's lineup and it's aged pretty well. Materials in our test car are pretty good, but there's a lot of buttons here kind of in the center area to sort through temperature controls things for the drivetrain. They're all kind of merged into this hodgepodge of buttons around the gear shift here. The seat remains a little sunken. It's kind of around a lot of furniture here, not a lot of room to stretch out, but very cockpit like feel, certainly feels at home for Porsche enthusiasts. Backseat is pretty nicely packaged here. Again, it's a two position backseat. I'm six feet tall. That's where I would sit to drive. Pretty good leg room leftover as you can see, and a good seating position height off the ground and good headroom leftover often you have to get one, but not the other. Executive models have about five inches of additional leg room, if you can believe it. So probably a huge area back here and a practical advantage of hatchbacks. The seats fold down more than 40 cubic feet of maximum space with the seats down, obviously a lot bigger path here to shove things through than even the folding back seat in just about any sedan. Drivetrains in the Panamera include a plug-in hybrid, a 310 horsepower V6 all the way up to a 570 horse twin turbo V8 capable of zero to 60 in just 3.6 seconds. We have a Panamera 4S here. That means it has 420 horsepower, a turbo-charged V6. It gets powered to all four wheels via a PDK dual clutch automatic transmission. Let's go for a drive. The drivetrain is a bit of a sleeping giant in the Panamera 4S. There's a little bit of accelerator lag at first and the transmission can take a few moments to kick down on the highway when you need it to. There's regular sport and sport plus modes in our test car. In an all but sport plus it actually starts you off in second gear too, which is a little bit of a drag. Once you let foot kind of past all that, Panamera 4S is a pretty quick car. The transmission shifts very, very quickly when it finally needs to it can go down two or three gears right away. PDK, you could almost say stands for pretty quick. You know, if you had spelled quick with a K. Porsche upgraded the suspension Springs and Bushings for 2014, and there are four possible suspension layouts. I won't bore you with all four, but our car does kind of have all the bells and whistles here, so an adaptive air suspension with anti-roll technology. The car corners pretty well. It doesn't drive like a Cayman or a Boxter, doesn't rotate that easily. And the tail doesn't come out quite as quickly as it does on the 911, but it does come free like a proper rear drive cars should. It's fun to play around on curvy roads in the Panamera. It behaves like a proper sports sedan in that way. The Panamera starts right around $80,000. That puts it in territory with other technical competitors, like the Audi S7, RS7, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. But once you get all the way up to the top trim levels of Panamera could be optioned out all the way up to around $250,000. That's a huge spread for a car that really kind of defies classification. And that might be why you can't wait to buy one, or you really can't stand it. You decide. (engine roars)