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Porsche Panamera 2024 review – third-generation super-limo is a tech-fest

Active suspension and a monstrously powerful hybrid powertrain for Porsche’s Panamera supersaloon (but no more Sport Turismo version)

Evo rating
Price
from £79,500
  • Fascinating active suspension and hybrid tech
  • We’re yet to experience that tech on the road

​​​Meet the new, third-generation Porsche Panamera. Though elements of the previous Mk2 car remain (notably the door skins if you look closely), the changes under the skin are considerable. Around three quarters of its components are brand-new and the Gen 3 Panamera is packed with ambitiously advanced technology, particularly regarding its suspension. It’s more than a facelift. 

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The line-up begins with the V6, rear-wheel-drive Panamera and further up the scale there are all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 derivatives. The range-topping (for now) Panamera Turbo e-Hybrid V8 is monstrously powerful, with 671bhp and 684lb ft of torque. An even faster Turbo S E-Hybrid variant is expected to follow, though is yet to be officially confirmed. 

> It's official: the Porsche 911 (992.2) will be electrified

Porsche has improved the electric-only mode capability of hybrid Panamera variants. It’s now possible to drive at up to 87mph in pure-electric mode, and for longer periods than before thanks to improved heat management, meaning less loss of energy. 

We’ve driven three variants of the new car so far at its international launch in Spain: the base-model V6-powered Panamera and all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 on the road, and the V8-powered Panamera Turbo e-Hybrid on track. 

Sadly, there’s no longer an estate-style Sport Turismo version of the latest Panamera; it simply wasn’t a big enough seller to justify another generation.

2024 Porsche Panamera V6 – on the road

All Panameras ride on two-valve adaptive air suspension as standard (we’ll come to the optional Active Ride system, available on hybrids only, later) and it controls its mass very well. The suspension, and improved sound deadening mean it’s not a lighter car than before; the rear-wheel-drive Panamera and all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 we tested on the road had quoted kerb weights of 1885kg and 1920kg respectively. But they handle their bulk beautifully. 

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At low speeds, ride quality is excellent; at higher speeds, on the optional 21-inch wheels fitted to the 2WD Panamera, there’s a bit of surface patter and the secondary ride isn’t quite as smooth, but it’s still a very comfortable car. The Panamera 4 we tested was on the smaller, standard 20-inch wheels and rode more smoothly. At normal road speeds there’s little difference in handling between the two, with a little more steering heft in the front-driveshaft-equipped car.

Body control in both cars is excellent: you’re very aware, straight away, that you’re driving a large car but you soon feel comfortable with its dimensions. In fact, the quicker you go, the tighter and more adept body control seems to become.

Steering and brake feel are both better than you’d typically encounter in a luxury car, and you can drive the Panamera with precision. It’s not necessarily a car to create drives that will stay in your memory forever, but it is an enjoyable car to steer. 

The V6 isn’t as brutally fast as the V8 hybrid we’ll change to shortly, but it’s certainly quick enough, and smooth too. We drove cars with the optional sports exhaust which makes a fairly noticeable burbly rumble when you accelerate but overall it’s a quiet, refined car, as per its remit. 

2024 Porsche Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid – on track

Unfortunately, the hybrid Panamera variant was available to drive on the track only, rather than the road, so we can’t yet report on how its newly revised hybrid system feels in traffic. Brake pedal feel, on the optional ceramic brakes, was very good on circuit but felt a little inconsistent at lower speeds in the pitlane, as is sometimes the case with hybrids. 

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It was very wet during our time on track, and the Panamera found a strong level of traction on its Michelin Pilot 5 S tyres, and the handling balance feels reasonably predictable in the faster corners.

And performance – as you’d expect of a car that puts out 671bhp and 684lb ft, albeit with a kerb weight in excess of two tonnes – is pulversing. 

The most remarkable thing about the car is the way its suspension behaves, however – more on which in the Ride and Handling section further down this review. 

Prices, specs and rivals

The entry level rear-drive V6 Panamera starts at £79,500 in the UK, and the Panamera 4 £82,500. The V8 hybrid Porsche Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid is £141,400 before options.

Starting with the visual changes versus the previous Panamera, the fresh headlights sit within front wings which are more pronounced in shape with a higher uppermost point (sitting from behind the wheel, there’s a more distinctive view down the bonnet than before) and an upper central intake above the numberplate is a new feature of the nose. The interior has been overhauled, too, more details on which are in the Interior and Tech section later in this review.

One of the headline technical advances is the new adaptive as standard, active as an option, air suspension system. All Panameras ride on air springs as standard, but hybrid models have the option of the new Porsche Active Ride system, made possible by the hybrid cars’ 400V electronic architecture. This system has the capability to keep the car almost entirely flat while cornering; in fact, it can ‘overcompensate’ for weight transfer, with the ability for the suspension to carve into corners akin to the manner of a motorcycle in certain circumstances. 

‘Comfort Entry’ raises the car by 55mm on its suspension to help you climb in or out smoothly, and it sinks back to its regular ride height once you close the door. 

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The 4-litre V8 engine fitted to the Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid has been thoroughly overhauled, too, being cleaner and more powerful than before, and there’s a new PDK gearbox which integrates the hybrid electric motor completely into its casing. This has helped enable that eye-opening 680+lb ft peak torque output. 

Porsche has also worked to improve the Panamera’s comfort in terms of noise and refinement as well as ride comfort, positioning microphones at every angle in the rear seat section of the cabin during testing to find ways of making it a more serene place to travel. 

The Panamera has always been an unusual car in the limo sphere, being focused as much on the driver as its passengers. Softer, cushier, more traditional luxury competitors include the Audi S8 and the Mercedes S-Class (which includes an AMG S63 E Performance plug-in hybrid version with peak torque to dwarf even the Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid, at 1054lb ft).

Engine, gearbox and technical highlights

The Panamera and Panamera 4 are powered by a 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 with 348bhp and 369lb ft of torque. 

The V8 engine in the Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid is a thorough evolution of the previous car’s V8. This evolution had its debut in the new Porsche Cayenne, and now gets its turn in the Panamera. It will also feature in wider Volkswagen Group products (expect it to appear in Bentleys and Lamborghinis, for example) in the near future. 

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Fuel injection pressure has been increased to 350bar, and it now features single-scroll turbos (positioned, as before, in the middle of the cylinder banks in a ‘hot-vee’ set-up) rather than twin – the better for heating the catalyst, Porsche’s engineers explain. Similarly, on the quest to improve emissions, the cylinder deactivation function has been, well, deactivated: Porsche found that customers only got the best benefit from it in quite a narrow field of driving. The engine now has finer valve lift control, which is better for overall efficiency across all driving scenarios. It has a higher compression ratio than before and, to achieve that, new pistons with newly designed channels for cooling.

As detailed earlier, the PDK gearbox is new too.

Performance and 0-60 time

The base rear-wheel-drive V6 Panamera gets from 0-62mph in 5.1sec. The all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 trims three tenths from that. Both have a top speed of 168mph. 

The Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid is the headliner for performance figures, with a 3.2sec time to 62mph, and a 196mph top speed. 

Ride and handling

Ride is the Panamera’s ace card, particularly in the case of its new flagship Porsche Active Ride suspension option. Our first stint behind the wheel is not on the road, nor the racetrack, but on a specially designed runway with ramps and bumps positioned at different frequencies. We drive over it at more than 30mph in an Active Ride-equipped car and it’s incongruously calm. There are jolts as you drive over the fairly vicious bumps but where in a normal car you’d be shaking in the seat or even bounced off the road, the Panamera soaks it all up without drama. 

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Watching the car drive over the runway from the outside is actually more dramatic: the wheels thump up and down over the bumps and yet the body stays spookily stable, barely moving, and the occupants heads stay level without shaking. 

The standard adaptive air suspension uses a two-chamber, two-valve damper at each corner. It’s able to react faster and more sensitively than the system in the previous Panamera, with the ability to adjust rebound and compression independently of one another. 

But the Active Ride option uses a single-chamber system, with a bigger volume, and an independent pump for each damper. It’s able to exert as much as 1000kg(!) of force (in extreme situations; Porsche’s engineers say around 200kg of force is more common in most driving scenarios), and in Comfort mode it can actually overcompensate for the body’s movement. That is to say, while the car is braking, it can push the nose up and sit the tail down to mitigate the effect of pitch (and vice versa under heavy acceleration), and in hard cornering it can push back against the body’s forces to the extent that it can actually tilt the car subtly into the corner. While the regular adaptive air suspension has conventional anti-roll bars, in the Active Ride system, the anti-roll bars are deleted.

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Sadly, we were unable to try the hybrid Panamera on the road, and since the Active Ride option is only available for hybrid models, that meant we could experience it only on the race track at the Monteblanco circuit. 

In Sport and Sport Plus modes, the system does not overcompensate for the car’s movements, as Porsche’s engineers felt that drivers might feel the lack of body roll or pitch a little disconcerting when driving quickly. So there is conventional diving under braking, squatting under power and roll through the corners but it’s very well controlled and contained. Unsurprisingly, the Panamera handles the kerbs well, too. 

We tried the Comfort mode too, albeit at a lower speed, and it’s remarkable how stable the body remains while you throw the car left and right. It doesn’t feel unnatural, however; you sense that Porsche has deliberately programmed the system to allow a certain level of body movement to get your bearings, and have some level of feedback as you’d expect. 

The most impressive example of the system in action was in a separate area to the circuit, where we tried emergency braking and avoidance manoeuvres back-to-back in two Panameras with and without the system. As a driver (and particularly as a passenger) you’re thrown around far more in the car without the Active Ride system. 

Interior and tech

The gear selector has moved to the dashboard, as per the Porsche Taycan, which makes the cabin less traditionally ‘sporty’ in feel but frees up space on the new centre console, which blends digital displays with physical switches. 

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There’s a new 12.6-inch curved digital instrument panel and a 10.9-inch display for passengers, plus redesigned air vents and interior trim. Shutter tech means you can’t see the passenger screen display from the driver’s seat; just a blank glossy surface with the odd fingerprint. 

Some elements �� such as the new central screen and certain switchgear – are shared with the new Cayenne.

Porsche has designed new seats too, with redesigned shoulder sections which are easier to see past for passengers in the back. It’s also given rear passengers cushier headrests and improved sound deadening at the rear for a quieter ride.

In the front cabin, there are a few surprisingly scratchy plastics lower down in the cabin, on the B-pillar and sill but overall fit, finish and sense of quality is as you’d expect of a luxury Porsche.

Design

The front wings have been considerably raised versus the previous Panamera’s, for a more ‘classic’ style in line with other Porsche models. The rear window also now has a frameless design. Despite the additional electric range for hybrid models, there is no impact on boot space (in fact there’s a little more extra storage to the right than before).

New wheels now include a centre-lock option, designed primarily for the Turbo models but available on other Panamera derivatives too. 

Porsche is keen to differentiate the Turbo variants visually from lesser Panameras, and so they are now available with a special ‘Turbonite’ trim finish, a kind of bronze with grey undertones for the badging, window strips, rev counter and centre console controls. 

The Panamera’s overall strengths remain for this latest generation, with the addition of genuinely fascinating, and impressive suspension technology. The next step will be to drive the hybrid variant on the road in the UK, to see how its newly revised powertrain and trick suspension feels. It will be fascinating to find out.

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