Shining in an eye-catching shade of metallic Mamba green, the 2021 Porsche Panamera 4S sampled here has garnered surprising public interest. He was given several thumbs up and collected snapshots from paparazzi, with one asking if this was the new electric Porsche.
Ironically, this interaction happened while the car was parked at a gas pump. Since there has been a lot of buzz about the Taycan EV sedan, which bears more than a fleeting resemblance to the Panamera, we gave the silver-haired gentleman a pass and explained that it is actually the Porsche’s gas-powered sedan (we were concerned calling it a hatchback might lead to more confusion). He nodded approvingly, then ended the conversation by saying, “I’m not so sure about these electric cars yet.”
The Panamera offers a selection of plug-in hybrid powertrains, which can be a bridge for people who aren’t ready to go all-electric, in the 552bhp 4S E-Hybrid and 690bhp Turbo S E-Hybrid. For electric vehicle enthusiasts, the updated Panamera 4S for 2021 is a compelling conventional option. It features a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6, an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Porsche extracted three more horsepower from the engine this year, so the power is now 443 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. With a recalibrated electric power steering system and new tires, all 2021 Panamera are said to behave better. Other updates include newly standard air springs, improved infotainment features, and styling tweaks such as a full-length LED strip connecting the taillights.
Driving down the street, the Panamera 4S looks like a 911 limousine. Although it weighs 4,543 pounds and is 76.3 inches wide and 198.8 inches long, our example was incredibly agile in tight spaces, for the most part. thanks to its rear axle steering system, which is part of the $ 5,450 Sport package. Also included is a sports exhaust and the Sport Chrono package (dashboard mounted stopwatch, Sport Plus driving mode, launch control). Our 4S rode on $ 2,980 21-inch wheels with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, size 275/35 up front and a whopping 315/30 in the rear. They contributed an impressive 1.02g of cornering grip and helped the powerful, non-fading brakes stop the car from 70 mph in just 153 feet. A 2017 Panamera 4S we tested had similar results, but it wore Continental ContiSportContact 5P summer tires.
The new Panamera 4S was a tenth slower at 60 mph and through the quarter mile, completing them in 3.6 seconds and 12.1 seconds at 113 mph, respectively. While it’s almost as fast as a 1,000-pound lighter 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4, the sizable dimensions and the tomb-like cabin lessen the drama during take-offs. At least we appreciate the subtly sinister exhaust note that rumbles on startup and makes sonorous sounds as the revs rise. Too bad we saw fuel economy of just 16 mpg in mixed driving, 4 mpg less than its combined EPA estimated 20 mpg. Equipped with high-tech chassis components, including the $ 5,010 Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport with electronically controlled sway bars and brake torque vectoring, our heavy 4S fearlessly stayed flat in the corners and never seemed floating. We also did not feel any severe impacts on the roads which generally induce such reactions.
The driving position of the Panamera is comparable to that of the 911, with a low seat and the best steering wheel in the industry. The helm has primary controls discreetly integrated into the upper spokes, and the leather-wrapped rim is the perfect thickness. The Marvelous Wheel also offers something that competitors such as the Audi S7 and Mercedes-AMG GT53 cannot duplicate: a formidable steering feel. The effort gradually increases as you get off center, and there is enough feedback to interpret the grip from the front.
Our Panamera’s stilted black leather interior was less impressive compared to some of the competition, but Porsche has plenty of color choices. Unfortunately, the central air vent can only be adjusted using the touchscreen, a particularly silly gadget. Likewise, the glass panel on the center console collects dust like a CD in a sawmill. Luckily, the new wireless Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly and saved us the trouble of messing with the infotainment system’s loaded menus. We also liked the different sized cup holders between the front seats. The larger one saved us from having to use our inner thighs to store hot drinks in bulky containers, a potentially catastrophic scenario.
Inflated by $ 21,690 in options, our Panamera 4S had a tested price of $ 128,040, a jaw-dropping reliable figure for admirers who have asked how much it costs. We don’t know if the attention was due to the paint job on our car or whether onlookers thought it was the new electric Porsche; maybe it was a bit of both.
Growing interest from Taycan, however, signals a change of guard, as he sold the Panamera 4414 to 3870 in 2020. Compare that with the 6625 Panamera the Americans bought the year before. With Porsche recently confirming that the 718 Boxster and Cayman will go all-electric for 2025, the brand’s transformation towards electrification (with the exception of the 911) is inevitable. Meanwhile, those – like the gentleman at the start of this story – who seek to bypass the shift to electric vehicles will find refuge and be rewarded with the Panamera 4S.
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