2017 Porsche Panamera test mule spy shots
Makeshift fender flares on one of the mules hint at a wider track. Meanwhile, the attached pieces of foam on the underbody and inside the wheel arches are typically used to measure clearance. Finally, the strange wheel coverings are special torque sensors, used for calibration of traction and stability control systems.
The new Panamera isn’t expected on the market until 2016, most likely as a 2017 model, so it’s strange to see engineers developing the mules in public so early. There’s a good reason for this, as underpinning the new car is a brand new platform that will eventually spawn several high-end models from the Volkswagen Group.
2017 Porsche Panamera test mule spy shotsEnlarge Photo
Thanks to a mix of materials such as high-strength steel, aluminum and even some composites, the MSB platform will see that the new Panamera is lighter and stiffer than the current model. Weight savings could be as high as 200 pounds, depending on trim.
It’s too early to talk styling, as the mules feature the current model’s body. However, 2012’s Panamera Sport Turismo concept points the way. The shape won’t change much but the new car should appear sleeker and its surfaces more taut. Though it has its critics, the current model has proven a huge hit in the market, with more than 100,000 examples sold since its 2009 launch, so Porsche isn't likely to rock the boat.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo conceptEnlarge Photo
A plug-in hybrid model will once again be offer, but with improved battery technology helping to lower weight and increase capacity. The current Panamera S E-Hybrid weighs a hefty 4,609 pounds. Interestingly, a previous report suggested that a manual transmission won't be offered on the new Panamera. We hear that all-wheel drive and the long-wheelbase options will remain, however.
Stay tuned for updates as development of the 2017 Porsche Panamera continues.