Let’s say that you’re a successful businessman that needs a four-wheeled piece of motorized transport that’s luxurious, fast, well-made and shows that you have made a success of your life. But, let’s also say that you’d like a spirited driver’s machine, and you prefer to drive your success-showing limo yourself rather than being chauffeured.
Not too long ago, the car for you would answer to the name of BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ. But then Porsche came along in 2009 and said “Not those. We can do better”
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Porsche, after all, is credited for having some of the best driver’s machines in the world. Gurus will go on and on about how the old Porsche 911s were a thrill to drive (even though they had the potential of killing you), and to this day Porsche still make the highly celebrated Cayman and Boxster, credited for being some of the best (subjectively) affordable driving machines money can buy.
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But, back in the late 2000s, Porsche decided that a 4-door sedan was the only vehicle missing from its model range. But, did you know that Porsche wanted to make a 4-door luxury sedan since way before the Panamera? Enter the 989 concept.
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Porsche engineer Dr. Ulrich Bez was in charge of developing an exciting four-door performance oriented alternative to the 928 sports car. Development began in 1989 and was going well, so well that it spawned an obscure prototype, known as the 989. Unfortunately, the car never reached production and in 1992 the whole thing was canceled.
Then, 15 years later, Porsche revived the idea of a luxury, performance oriented limousine that featured styling inspired by the flagship 911 in the form of the Panamera. It was so inspired by the 911 that Porsche even turned to the Carrera Panamerica race for the car’s name, just like they did with the 911. And that’s exactly where the problem with the first generation Panamera lay.
The car tried way too hard to look like the 911, but it was front engined. When the first generation 970 Panamera was revealed at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2009, it immediately divided opinion. But even then, the general consensus was that the car wasn’t exactly striking or nice to look at, and the main culprit was the rear end.
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As well as hindering functionality with the narrow tailgate opening, the proportions and the whole appearance was just… not nice to look at.
With its controversial appearance, the Panamera caused a lot of hate and a lot of negative reception in the Porsche community, even though in a lot of other respects, it wasn’t a bad car at all, with journalists comparing its driving dynamics to the car that inspired it, the 911. The range itself was huge, and the Turbo models were indifferently fast, especially the turned-up-to-11 S, which put out 550 horsepower.
In 2013, the Stuttgart-based automobile giant gave the Panamera a mid-life facelift, with the best efforts to improve on its rather negative image, and even though the styling was mildly improved and the introduction of the extended wheelbase Executive models and the E-Hybrid gave it some more purpose and attempted to attract a wider audience, the Panamera still wasn’t the nicest vehicle in the world to be seen in.
As far as I can see it, the first generation model has only one major purpose: it pioneered the interior seen on every single model that came after it, including the 991 generation 911, the second generation Boxster and Cayman, the second generation Cayenne and the Macan. And even then, the interior had its fair share of flaws, one of them being that there were buttons literally everywhere you looked, and it wasn’t all that intuitive or easy to operate while you were driving.
So, at this point, you’re probably wondering “Will we ever get to the ‘Is No Longer Embarrassing’ part of the title? Well, yes, yes we will.
After the original, controversially styled Panamera pushed on for 7 years, in 2016, Porsche finally introduced the second generation model, and suddenly, every prejudgement and negative opinion anyone ever had about the previous Panamera was rectified.
Now sure, some people still think it’s a bit ungainly, but most will agree that the difference between 970 and the new generation 971 is night and day.
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The second generation is also underpinned by the Volkswagen Group MSB global platform, which underpins a number of other products in Volkswagen AG’s product line, including the Audi Q7 and the Bentley Bentayga. And continuing a tradition that it started back in 2009, the new Panamera introduces an all new, incredibly modern and stunning interior with a huge 12.3 inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a new partially digital instrument cluster, but a large central analog tachometer is still present.
And then, we get to the main reason why it’s no longer embarrassing to own a Panamera. Enter the Sport Turismo.
The Sport Turismo variant was introduced along with the fastback, and taking one look at it makes you realize that the Sport Turismo is what the Panamera should have always been; it’s a wagon with a hatchback.
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The regular fastback Panamera looks a lot better, but it still has some of the bulbousness that was present on the old model, but the ST fixes all of that with its shooting brake body which should satisfy a wider audience.
And that’s why the Porsche Panamera is no longer an embarrassing car to be seen in. But that’s just my view on it.
Do you agree with these reasons? Would you ever own a Panamera if you had the cash? Let us know in the comments!