Owning a Porsche Panamera Turbo S in Australia is like owning a lion and keeping it permanently locked in a cage.
It's a powerful and ferocious beast that deserves to roam free; driving it within the stifling confines of Australia's speed limits, it feels shackled, bored even. A trip to Heathcote Raceway drag strip graphically illustrates the problem.
The Panamera Turbo S takes just 4.41 seconds to pass the national speed limit (110km/h for everyone not in NT), having hit 100 in 3.82. The quarter mile vanishes in 11.82sec at 192.39km/h and extracting this performance couldn’t be easier: simply hit the ‘Sport Plus’ button, press your left foot firmly on the brake, mash the accelerator into the carpet then release the brakes.
Time after time after time, this 1970kg limo will almost turn itself inside out with the ferocity of its launch with no drama, no histrionics and no cooling-down period required. I don’t know what Porsche makes its driveshafts and gearboxes out of, but if someone ever builds a car out of it you’ll be able to drive straight through concrete walls unscathed.
Don’t think that the Panamera Turbo S is a one trick pony, however. On the highway it wafts along silently, air suspension isolating occupants from the road’s undulations, the 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 dropping to idle on downhill sections as the seven-speed PDK ’box engages its ‘sailing’ mode to save fuel.
Switch to ‘Sport’ and the exhaust bellows like a grizzly with a toothache, the gearbox wakes up and body control tightens without sacrificing the ride. Attack a sequence of corners and you sense that if it could, the Turbo S would simply raise an eyebrow – “is that all you’ve got?”
So you grab it by the scruff of the neck, leaning hard on the enormous carbon-ceramic stoppers, turning in at what seems like ludicrous speeds and feeding in more and more throttle until the rears finally break free. Hold the throttle steady, apply some opposite lock and the all-wheel drive system pulls the whole show straight, ready to obliterate the next bend.
At first the Turbo S’s $444,600 ($469,800 as tested) seems absurd; how can it cost twice a (more powerful) BMW M5? While undoubtedly pricey, the Panamera’s composure and feedback elevates it above both the traditional super sedans and price rivals such as the Bentley Continental Flying Spur or Aston Marin Rapide.
What the Panamera lacks is the bespoke feel of the Bentley and Aston. It’s beautifully built, and all the creature comforts are present, but it majors on function rather than flair. Is it reasonable to expect a bit more of a sense of occasion at this price point? Regardless, the Turbo S is an incredible achievement in defying the laws of physics, but if you buy one, just remember to let it out of its cage every now and again.
Engine 4806cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power 419kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 800Nm @ 2250-4500rpm*