WHEN you browse through the list of tempting bits you can spec for your Porsche Panamera, you will stumble upon the “Free entry to ‘Introduction To Porsche’ event at Sepang” as one of the standard options.
Yes, that’s a driving course guided by professional instructors on the Fèdèration Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) racing circuit where Grand Prix cars race.
It is not easy to find a full-size sedan that can be taken from the showroom straight to a track while still being able to ferry four occupants (including the driver) in style.
The ability to capture the two objectives has always been the Panamera’s strong suit, although Porsche’s first attempt resulted in a car that invited a number of negative comments due to its looks.
But for the 2017 model, Porsche has produced an all-new Panamera with an exterior styling which, to me, appears to be much more dynamic.
The front fascia has wide gaping air intakes and more pronounced side air vents while the rear features the 911-styled three-dimensional tail lights, giving it the “wow” factor.
This Rhodium Silver Metallic Panamera 4S is powered by a new 2.9-litre turbocharged V6 engine, an effect of the current trend of downsizing and force-feeding.
Bear in mind that the most powerful Panamera, which wears the “Turbo” badge, is powered by a more powerful twin-turbocharged V8 motor.
Since this Panamera 4S channels its power to all four wheels and is equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package, it takes 4.2 seconds to sprint from zero to 100kph.
Apart from the design changes, the “Easter egg” of the new Panamera is the interior.
The car employs the next-generation Porsche Communication Management (PCM), which marks the digitalisation of the Porsche interior. It consists of a 12.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen that allows the driver intuitive controls of various functions of the vehicle, such as the infotainment setup, four-zone climate control and driving setups.
The centre air conditioning vents are controlled from the touchscreen, while the rear passengers also have their own touchscreen to control some of the vehicle’s functions.
In front of the 918-derived sports steering wheel is an instrument cluster arranged in five main sections. The tachometer, which is located in the middle of the cluster, is still an analogue instrument, adding a touch of class to the high-tech displays.
The overall construction of the Panamera 4S cabin is well put together and displays a high sense of quality.
To be honest, I have pretty high expectations of the new Porsche Panamera 4S due to its new engine and interior features. Although this is not the first Porsche model that I have driven, there’s a lot to learn with the new Panamera.
For instance, the gear knob is new. Not only in its design, but the way we engage the gears.
The Panamera 4S is supple and firm, even on Normal mode. I happily drove the car in Sport mode most of the time, which feels more suitable to very smooth roads or the track.
Despite growing in dimension, the new Panamera doesn’t feel that big and drivers are constantly reminded of its dynamic capability.
Applying even a tiny angle on the steering wheel to either direction, I can immediately feel my body pushed to the opposite side. Such a response is significant in improving the driver’s confidence and driving involvement.
This is done via the Panamera’s active roll stabilisation and integrated 4D chassis control, which ensures that the car is planted and checks for the driver’s input as well as road conditions.
Adding to the aural and sensational driving experience is the optional Sport Chrono Package and Sport exhaust system.
The Sport Chrono Package means that the car’s throttle and engine mapping, suspension, gearshifts and exhaust notes are manageable via a steering wheel-mounted knob and the Sport Response button.
The icing on the cake is the sport exhaust, which pops and crackles at certain revs in Sport and Sport Plus modes.
Speaking of response, the 2.9-litre V6 is not only capable of delivering peak torque from a relaxed 1,750 rpm, but displays no lag at all, since the turbochargers are integrated centrally into the “V” of the engine.
The eight-speed PDK transmission works rapidly and seamlessly and feels like it was built to match the engine characteristics.
To add to the joy of driving, drivers may opt to view numerous interactive displays on the instrument cluster, such as the navigation system, laptimes, trip information, G-force movements and torque distributions.
The downside? If you ask me, it must be the new volume control, which is controlled by a roller switch on the centre console, right in front of the hazard light button.
The new Panamera 4S is an ideal machine to cover the miles quickly while offering absolute driving precision and dynamics.
It starts at RM1,1,00,000 with a four-year warranty, four-year free service and maintenance package, but this particular Panamera 4S has receives an array of optional add-ons, bumping its price to RM1,289,231.58.