Principles of Design

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It is difficult to imagine the reaction of Porsche designers when the boss came into the room and said, “I want you to design a Porsche four-door sedan for four pas- sengers with a front-mounted engine that looks like the Porsche 911 sports car with its small, flat rear engine.” Well, after initial shock, the designers went to work.

Starting with a low body line—and stretching out the front end well beyond the front engine area, while simultaneously lowering the body— the front end emulates the 911. The roofline, even for a four-door sedan, is low, and the window shape is broadly patterned after the 911 side-view. The general form of the rear end and tail- lights follows design principles. As for the body, a large, vent-like opening appears just before the front door. The addition of large, 21-inch, Porsche-signature sport alloy wheels completes the design. In short, the designers met their goal by ultimately creating a really good-looking car, while respecting Porsche’s image.

On the power front, the Panamera provides many choices via V-6 engines. Power starts at 330 horsepower, accelerating in stages. Our test car had the twin turbo 2.9-liter version, tout- ing 440 horsepower and an 8-speed, automatic transmission. Other ver- sions include the GTS, which has 453 horsepower and a mild hybrid version totaling 462 ponies. On the less-powerful models, force goes to rear wheels, and when power comes in, the all- wheel drive adds pep.

Other Porsche traditions are carried over into the interior. The dash pod, which has five gauges, has the tachometer in the center, like all Porsche cars ever created. Flanking on either side are various video dials offering tons of data. A large, nicely integrated video flows up from the center console, which can be touch-controlled or via dials or buttons. A dial also controls the automatic temperature system … you simply have to choose your desired degree and let it be. Up front, you’ll find supportive, leather-lined seats with tiny puka. Various other controls handle video screens, Bluetooth and other amenities on the leather-covered steering wheel. A small dial on the steering wheel adjusts various power responses (with settings like Sport, Sport plus, etc.).

The back seats resemble those in front. Between the seats, there is also a similar video screen to the one up front. This one, however, is devoted to temperature control for the two back passengers. Considering the low roof, there is fair amount of rear leg and head room, and the rear passengers have their very own small sunroof. Trunk space is also good; the lid opens with a button on the front door. A cover is provided to hide items from prying eyes.

In our test model with the 440 horsepower, V-6 performance was outstanding, with a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds and top speed (if you ever need it) of 179 mph. For everyday driving, the engine operates in relative silence, and gear changes are made without much detection.

Given the large alloy wheels and sports orientation of the suspension, it rides quite comfortably. Cornering likens that of a refined sports car. On the safety front, the car senses tight situations, warning you if you get too close. At low speeds, the front video screen provides front and/or rear visibility, and depending the direction of the car, 360-degree views, too.

The end result is a more family- orientated sports car which retains Porsche’s trademark style, along with many of its performance capabilities. Good job, designers!

PORSCHE PANAMERA


MODEL:
FOUR-DOOR, FOUR-PASSENGER SPORTS SEDAN.
POWERTRAIN:
(TEST CAR) TWIN TURBO 2.9 LITER, V-6, NINE-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, REAR-WHEEL DRIVE.
PERFORMANCE:
0-60 IN 4.2 SECONDS, TOP SPEED 179 MPH.
FUEL MILEAGE:
23 MPG ON AVERAGE.

ELECTRIC SLY

In the not too distant future, Porsche is going add to its four-door sports sedan offerings. This fresh model, called the Taycan, will undoubtedly have one major difference from all other Porsches: pure electric motivation. And as one would expect from Porsche, the power will sing full, ranging from 750 horsepower to a “low” end of 616. Zero to 60 will be in the 2.5 second range. Estimated pricing is from $130,000 up to $160,000.

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