It was only a week ago that the latest range of Porsche Panameras were presented with much fanfare to the local market — the new and improved Panamera, Panamera 4S and the all-new Panamera Turbo, wowing over its improved aesthetics, better driving performance and new assistance systems. And now just a few days later, we’re here at Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, Taiwan, waiting to get behind the wheels of these latest rides for Porsche’s Panamera Two Trails Media Drive.
Surely, instant gratification is not a myth.
We’re about to take on the streets of Taiwan today with the Panameras and having had a brief introduction to this picturesque town the day before while cruising on the Sun Moon Lake, we are already anticipating the views we’ll get to see on our drive. But before setting off, we go through the mandatory briefing of Taiwan road rules and driving culture before pairing off in our convoys and heading to the vehicles.
We’re told that the fleet is made up of Panamera and Panamera 4S. Unfortunately, the most powerful Gran Turismo car of the range — the Panamera Turbo — is not yet available for testing. So for this trip, we’ll just have to satisfy our adrenaline addiction with the other two and be content with taking photos of and with the Turbo this time around.
Drive time, we pair up and take turns behind the wheel of the Panamera 4S first.
The winding mountain roads around Sun Moon Lake prove no match for the sports luxury saloon, as it effortlessly hugs the gravel at each turn. A foot on the accelerator generates a maximum of 440 horses (which is approximately 20bhp more than its predecessor) and it doesn’t require much effort to switch from a lower gear to a higher one when we merge with city traffic on the highways.
And it’s on the highways that we get to put its speed to the test. On paper, the 4S, with its 2.9-litre V6 biturbo engine, goes from naught to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package and hits a top speed of 289km/h.
With a wider and much straighter roads, we put the accelerator pedal to the floor to reach 100km/h and more in what feels like just quick second. Though we never got the chance to go above 150km/h (no one wants a speeding ticket, nor endanger the lives of ourselves and other road users), the surge in speed and power is clearly more evident in the 2017 4S than in the previous model.
After a few hours of driving, it’s time to switch the cars around and it’s our turn with the Panamera. Now, having already driven the 4S earlier and feeling its power, switching down to the entry-level model is a bit of a let-down, since it produces 110bhp less than the 4S. After all, this version is fitted instead with a V6 turbo petrol engine that delivers 330bhp. As such, the quick surge of power is a tad slower in this car, so we need to adjust our driving styles slightly in order to catch up with the rest of the convoy. Which means giving the car a little more gas, instead of the light tapping of the accelerator we did earlier with the 4S.
But it’s not to say the base version is any less fun to drive. Once again, the Panamera proves it is boisterous and versatile enough to adapt to different road conditions. No worries about the many bends on the mountain roads because it is agile enough to take each and every curve on the road, gripping tightly to the ground and responding swiftly to brakes, steers and accelerations. And on the highways, again, it’s a breeze. Floor the accelerator and feel how quick the GT responds, though it is admittedly slightly less responsive than the 4S.
Even better, switch it to Sport or Sport Plus in either car. The suspension stiffens, throttle response heights, the steering becomes more responsive and the car offers you a wholly different experience. To top it off, put the spoiler up and watch how the car’s more aggressive and sportier stance turn those heads.
What makes the range even more wonderful to drive is how the cars have been designed with both the driver and the passengers in mind.
With everything it has under the hood, it’s clear the GT has been engineered to give drivers comfort, performance and convenience. Yet the details that go into the making of the cabin proves it has the passengers in mind. Noise from the outside is kept shut out so the interior’s acoustics are peaceful, plush…the epitome of luxury. Delightfully cushy seats ensure the bumps and spills in the road will not compromise cabin comfort.
As the sun begins to disappear in the horizon, it also signals the end of our media drive around Sun Moon Lake with Porsche. But there’s still something — two, actually — that the German automaker wants to show, which has a bigger impact in the night. First is the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) Plus.
The LED matrix headlamps are fitted with tiny individual bulbs and what the system does is when front vehicles or oncoming traffic is detected, these dynamic bulbs are intelligently designed to not dazzle other users by illuminating the area surrounding the vehicle.
Another important system introduced to the range is the night vision assistant, available in the 4S. It uses a thermal imaging camera to detect people and large animals, which is indicated on the instrument panel. It’s like pretending to be 007 behind the wheel and spotting your wanted targets in a pitch black night.
It’s hard to imagine that back when the Panamera range was first introduced to the automotive market in 2009, critics were less than welcoming with their comments, with some saying it was just a big luxury saloon masquerading as sports car-wannabe. But instead, it proves that this GT does have the prowess of the 911, while going further to set new standards in its segment. And once again, it’s doing so with the 2017 upgrade.
Well, look who’s laughing now?