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I had a chance to drive the 4S for a bit today and here is my review. Pictures will follow.

I've always enjoyed reading car reviews, but I've never attempted to write one. I'll do my best not to bore everyone to death.

First of all, the Panamera 4S we drove is the nicest, most expensive car that I've every been inside of. Period.

My "bestest" ever car progression is as follows:

1987: Dodge Dart (I don't even know the year) from the driving school that I used to pass my road test with. That was the best car I ever drove! (yeah right..)

1989: A one week rental in a Chevy Beretta, I was in heaven!

1990 - 1998: Various rental cars once every two years or so as a treat to myself. Other than that, could only daydream with car mags.

1998 - 2006: B5 Audi A4 V6. Now this was the best car because it was mine and my first!

2007: Infiniti G35 Sport, yeah this was the best.

2007: Cayman S. Humm, OK this was better.

2009: Panarama 4S. 2x the price of the Cayman and someone let me drive it? NUTS!

Looks:
Looks are subjective. I think the car definitely has a presence. Seeing it today outside in sunlight does nothing to lessen the visual impact of this monster of a car. The round butt? Looks like nothing else out there. I really noticed it at first, but after a while, I forgot about it. The car is so imposing that even the optional 20" wheels it had barely filled the wheel wells.

Exterior:

This car is low and wide. A bit menacing from the front, not much so from the rear. Porsche has copied the Aston Martin door hinges. The doors will open and stay open at any angle. I hope I described it correctly, you really have to try it to see what I mean. The trunk/hatch is powered. No need to sweat and exert any effort to close the thing!

Interior:
Porsche spared no expense here. Little touches such as the real aluminum (or at least metallic) door handles to the curved lighting fixture surrounding the overhead controls puts this car into the big leagues of interior quality with the top of the line Audis and Aston Martins. The leather used felt softer and of higher quality than even the Cocoa interior in Retired-Teach's Cayman S. Having the navigation map inside one of the dials in the dash is a nice touch. The car is roomy inside. Four large adults? No problem. The rear seats are bucket seats and have some limited control to change the angle of the seat back. The rear console also had some position control buttons for the front passenger seat. I'm not sure why this is needed other than to annoy your front passenger during long road trips.

Performance:
This is what we all care about, right? This Panamera had the sport exhaust and when the motor was started, it made a nice growl. I wasn't in the car yet at this point and I immediately realized there was something special about the exhaust. Inside the car, the noise was muted but still there if you listened for it. I'm not sure how a luxury sedan like this could benefit from this exhaust, but hey, at least you have the choice of ordering it!

With only my PASM equipped Cayman S as a reference, the ride on this PASM'ed Panamera is toned down a notch. The extra 1000 lbs probably also helps to dampen most of the unevenness of what passes for roads in parts of NJ. But take that highway on ramp at speed and this car will stick with no drama or appreciable body lean.

PDK behavior is already well documented so I don't have much to add. I left it in full auto for most of my drive since that's probably what the majority of the owners will do. This is when I noticed the first flaw with the car. The throttle response in normal mode is a bit flat. You floor the throttle to pass and ... the... engine... takes... a bit to wake up. I'm sorry I wasn't able to do a comparison with the sport mode turned on (again too many buttons). With Teach driving, I was able to decipher more of the buttons from the passenger seat and tell him what mode I put the car in. After turning sport on, the response to throttle inputs was much better. It wasn't [email protected] your pants fast, but it certainly moves the car, much the surprise of a Mustang GT driver in the lane next to us with the loud exhaust. ;)

One of the most unique features of the car was the engine cutoff mechanism when the car is stopped. This is used to save on gas in stop and go conditions. The default operation of this mode is OFF right now and we had to turn it on via another console button. Since this car had the sport exhaust, you really noticed it when the engine shutdown. In fact, the first time it happened, it caused me to naturally reach for the key and my left foot stomped around for the non-existent clutch. It sounded and felt like we stalled the car. However, as soon as you gave it some gas, the engine turned over and off we went. Until I get used to how quickly reacts, I'd be a bit hesitant to use it for some of the driving we Nor'Easters have to contend with. Making a left handed turn into oncoming traffic is a perfect example. Will the engine wake up in time to squeal the tires and make the turn before the oncoming car T-bones me? Maybe someone else can try this test.

Some not so goods:
The car has so many different setting and controls that it's basically a big rolling Best Buy store. But I guess nowadays all top of the line sedans are like this. I'm no Luddite, but I can easily see it taking weeks to learn all the features on the car.

Have you seen the options list? I thought the 987/997 list was extensive, but most of it was cosmetic related. The mechanical and performance options were a small subset. However with the Panamera, everything is an option! Do I configure PDCC with sport chrono or how about all the heated/vented seat options? I would go nuts trying to configure one of these. What is a real useful option and what is just fluff?

Where are the GT3-RS stickers for the hood and fenders? :hilarious:

That's all I can think of for impressions after our short test drive. We had a chance to chase around an Aston Martin DB9 for a bit. While the performance of the two may be equal, very few cars will win a beauty contest when placed next to the Aston!

If I was in the market for a deluxe sedan, the Panamera would be at the top of my list. Don't even bother with the rest.

However, I'm not in that market right now. Poor Teach had to listen to me pester the salesman about GT3 allocations. ;)

A big thank you goes to Steve Walker at Ray Catena Porsche for putting up with Teach and I! Hope you enjoyed the read.
 

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Thanks for that! The "I don't need no stinking Owner's Manual" crowd will probably miss a lot of nice features on this coast-to-coast cruiser. It harks back to the days of taking in large amounts of miles in comfort and style but sadly probably will be consigned to the 10mph LA freeways. Porsche, to me, tore the three box style copy cat designers a "new one". The large luggage area with the fold down seat makes for the perfect Porsche dog space.
 

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Enjoying the drive.
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I am going to need to swing by my local dealer and look at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You know, I'm kicking myself for not paying attention more since I knew you were interested in that option.

In all honesty, once inside the car, you don't hear a thing since everything is so well insulated. I did notice the sound a bit then Teach floored it, but that was the only time. The sound was distant and remote, unlike the in your face of the Cayman and I'm sure the turbo. People outside of the car would probably get a better sense of the sound then the driver every will.

Let me shoot off a PM to my salesman to see if he knows the answer.

Very nice write up. Did the sport exhaust also shut its valves above a certain RPM as it does on the Cayman and Boxster? Does it start open and then close until you hit the sport exhaust button?
 

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Stopped by my dealer the other day to have a look, didn't drive,...probably need to do that!

Inside it looks spectacular, very luxurious and sporting at the same time.

Outside,....will have to grow on me a bit, and I will have to see it on the road a few times to have a verdict.
 

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Nice job Pete. I enjoyed your write up.

I tell you, the car really is pretty from some angles. Form others, it's going to take some getting used to (for me). It looks a lot like a low slung wagon to me.

I love all the buttons... That's just cool and I would love the challenge of learning to use each of them.
 

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Very Nice Review.

I enjoy the looks of that car, and definitely one of my favorite sedans. I really like how the new spoilers shift out.

~Ben
 

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I had the chance to sit inside one of these at the dealership yesterday; a Panamera turbo with a sticker price of about US$180K. The car looks great, comfy sitting in the front and back seats, and clearly the materials are first class.
Never got the chance to drive the car :( When asked the dealer about the other versions of the car, I was told the 4S should arrive early next year.
:thanks:
 

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Nice job Pete. I enjoyed your write up.

I tell you, the car really is pretty from some angles. Form others, it's going to take some getting used to (for me). It looks a lot like a low slung wagon to me.
Ditto - the one I saw was parked next to a Cayenne and it reminded me of a low slung wagon too - something like the next evolution of the Infinite EX35. Really low slung at that - it matched the Cayenne for overall 'prescence' due to it's shear size. Loved the interior - could get used to that real easy!

Dealer should have the turbo ready for demo duty tomorrow he says. Hmmmmm - it may be too tempting. Out of my price range though - maybe a 4S??! I can't see locking up that much money in a depreciating asset....
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Depreciating is right. Don't 4-door luxury sedans drop like rocks? I think I read somewhere that 3 year old CL600's could be had for mid-30's now. That was a $120K car when new too!

However any maintenance and repairs are still in line with the costs of a $120K car!

I hope it doesn't happen with this car, but if it does, I'll jump right on it!
 

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Nice review & photo's. It would appear the Bi-Xenons headlights have a halogen high beam bulb & casing. I'm not sure, but my cayman Halogen has the same setup as non Bi-Xenon.
 

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Depreciating is right. Don't 4-door luxury sedans drop like rocks? I think I read somewhere that 3 year old CL600's could be had for mid-30's now. That was a $120K car when new too!

However any maintenance and repairs are still in line with the costs of a $120K car!

I hope it doesn't happen with this car, but if it does, I'll jump right on it!
I think that's a little low for the car. I'm sure there are some deals for mid to high 30's but both average price and positive KBB outlooks show a CL600 to be in the mid to high 40's. But let's be fair, it's not just the 3 year difference but the car went through a huge full model change between then and now and that always causes further depreciation. Mercedes also don't typically hold their value that well.

But it all seems a moot point as it depends on market and demand. We'll just have to see how much my Panamera S is worth when I probably go to trade in the car for something else in maybe 3 or 4 years. But I'm expecting to lose a good amount anyway so I'm not really afraid - I'm pretty realistic when it comes to cars. I'm just going to enjoy having the first Panamera here.

Oops.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for providing a bit more details about the Mercs, I used to dream of a nice E55 back in 2000 when they first came out.

Congrats on getting the Panamera! When do you expect delivery?
 
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