Let's fantasize. Imagine you can afford a six-figure car. Imagine that gas is not an issue. Imagine a Porsche with four doors. Wait, that last one is now a reality. Having stepped away from two-seaters with its Cayenne SUV, Porsche now has built an actual luxury sedan with the Panamera. It's also a raging sports car. And that's no fantasy.
Appearance: Depending on your point of view, the Panamera's design is either striking or it simply strikes out. Put Lyra in the latter camp: She found the front a beauty, but the rear design ugly. Peter didn't like the profile at first, either, but it grew on him. (Comfort and performance can do that.) We both think the Panamera looks like Porsche took a 911 and strapped it on a rack. This stretched body ends in a slightly bulbous rear with high muscular shoulders and a rounded back. The front end is all Porsche, or even Corvette. It's not your typical sedan. One thing we did agree on: The Mahogany Metallic — a dark chocolate color — is beautiful.
Performance: The car is all Porsche, well, except when it's in comfort mode. If you want a more aggressive car, go for the sports or sports-plus modes at the push of a button. You can also choose your exhaust note, from muted to a rumble. Lyra found the 4.8-liter, 400-horsepower V-8 wasn't as responsive as some of the Porsches we've driven, but our tester was the nonturbo version. (Porsche is soon to come out with a V-6 model and a hybrid is planned.) The seven-speed automatic shifts the nearly 2-ton car smoothly through gears. Zero to 60 comes in five seconds (with the Sport Chrono Package Plus). A rear spoiler deploys at interstate speeds, and its angle gets steeper at higher speeds. The Panamera also has Auto Start Stop, which shuts off the engine at lights and restarts it when you take your foot off the brake in an effort to limit emissions and help out with MPG. Lyra didn't like the slight hesitation and shudder of the on-and-off; Peter didn't even notice it.
Interior: We both loved the sumptuous leather- and technology-laden cockpit that mimics Porsche's iconic sports cars. Peter's wife summed it up best: "I could live in this car." The form-fitting front buckets have twins in the back and the car comfortably seats four adults (there's even good rear headroom). The button-heavy console extends through the cabin to the rear. Some nits: a small rear window; a backup system that uses an icon rather than a camera; a fussy nav system; not much in the way of cup holders.
Our 3 favorites
Exhaust: Change the tone with the push of a button.
Hatchback: Yes, it has one, and there is room for suitcases (plural).
Cabin: Sleek and stylish, with buttery leather and a thick steering wheel.
m Kitschy key: The fob is in the shape of the Panamera. Cute.
Let there be air: Lots of vents, especially for the rear seats.
Suspension: Change your ride quality with the push of a button.
The bottom line: You'll be noticed in the Panamera, with its Porsche pedigree and head-turning profile. Another company coined the term "four-door sports car." That was so much marketing fancy; Porsche built the reality.