Porsche Panamera GTS (2012) review
We get behind the wheel of the most driver-focused Porsche saloon yet, the Panamera GTS. A 911 for four?
What is it? The ninth variant of Porsche’s monster four-seat five-door uberhatch, the Panamera GTS is essentially a higher performing and more generously equipped Panamera 4S. Positioning-wise it sits at the top of the naturally aspirated range but neatly below the bombastic Turbo and Turbo S models. With the emphasis on sporting character it promises to be the most driver-focussed Panamera yet. Technical highlights? Ignore the big rims, stance enhancing 5mm wheel spacers and brawny styling tweaks for this is more than a pimped Panamera. Porsche has applied its usual nerdy attention to detail to the engine and chassis to give the GTS useful gains in power, torque and sharper handling than the regular Panamera 4S on which it’s based.
Thanks to a new intake system, hotter cams and a remapped ECU the 4.8-litre V8 now revs 400rpm harder (to 7100rpm) and develops 430bhp and 383 lb ft, which is up 30bhp and 15lb ft. The standard PASM suspension sits 10mm lower than standard, then drops a further 5mm in Sport Plus mode, which comes as part of the standard Sport Chrono package.
A ‘Sound Symposer’ directs engine intake noise into the interior, while your neighbours will delight in the vocal sports exhaust. Options include Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), which work together to control body roll and optimise traction and stability by actively shuffling torque to each corner of the car.
What’s it like to drive? At 1920kg and covering at least a hectare of tarmac the Panamera is a formidable car in every respect. The GTS interior trim, complete with adaptive sports seats, leather and Alcantara upholstery, contrast stitching and embroidered GTS detailing makes for an attractive and extremely comfortable driving environment.
The standard PDK ‘box makes for effortless progress and the breathed-on 4.8-litre V8 certainly sounds the part. It doesn’t have the abundance of torque delivered by the Turbo (nor for that matter potential rivals from BMW or Mercedes), but still there’s a pleasing sense of muscle when you squeeze the throttle. It’ll hit 62mph in 4.5sec and do 180mph all-out, which is pretty rapid. Unfortunately the steering remains a bit aloof, but given the Panamera’s mile-eating brief it doesn’t detract too much from the overall driving experience.
Despite the more sporting bias of the GTS it rides well, at least in the softest PASM mode. This feels a bit floaty once you find a quicker road, but you soon learn to toggle between the three chassis modes. The middle mode strikes the most pleasing balance of comfort and body control, while the firmest setting is reserved for those times when you have the opportunity to go for it. We also drove the GTS on track. Though largely irrelevant to 99 per cent of Panamera customers, it performed amazingly well for such a big car and was actually fun to hustle around the Ascari Race Resort’s fast and challenging track.
How does it compare?
Panameras are very hard cars to pigeonhole, and the GTS is no exception. If you see it as a supersaloon then the M5, E63 (or CLS 63) and XFR are all rivals, yet because it is four-wheel drive you could also throw an Audi S8 or Range Rover Supercharged into the mix. In pure performance terms it’s not as impressive as the M5, or as engaging as the Benz, but it’s still very impressive. Priced at £90,409 it’s roughly £6000 more than the 4S, which seems like excellent value given the comprehensive GTS upgrade package. Anything else I need to know? According to a spokesperson there’s no technical reason why Porsche couldn’t build a GTS version of the rear-wheel drive V8 Panamera. That sounds like a cracking car to us (so long as it used the PDK and not the rather clunky manual), but unfortunately sales predictions and customer feedback suggest the market for such a car is minimal. Shame.
|Max power||430bhp @ 6700rpm|
|Max torque||383lb ft @ 3500rpm|
|0-60||4.5sec (claimed 0-62)|