2010 Porsche Panamera
Porsche knows a thing or two about building sports cars, and, one might argue, SUVs. The Cayenne has been very successful, rapidly becoming Porsche's hottest-selling model. But what does the company know about sedans? According to our own Marty Padgett, quite a lot, actually.
It's not really all that much of a stretch to make a larger rear seat and slap on a couple of extra doors, after all, though engineers will certainly groan, "it's not that easy!" Building a roomy, stylish, capable and yet compliant luxury sedan, on the other hand, takes a fine hand.
The 2010 Panamera delivers on (almost) all accounts: delivering huge power, great handling and ample room for four real-world adults. Considering the $90,750-$133,550 price range of the sedan, it better deliver, as it's up against some of the finest sedans in the world, including the Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes CLS- and S-Class, and BMW 7-series.
If there's one area where the Panamera falls short, it's styling. While the rear seat can handily seat people over six feet tall, the resulting effects on the roofline aren't what most people would call aesthetically pleasing. With the unbalanced rear of the sedan protruding, even the typically Porsche front and rear fender styling can't distract from the lack of proportion. The imbalance is accentuated by the low nose, which draws even more attention to the awkward, fastback-like rear profile.
Inside, the cabin's combination of wood, leather and plastic errs a bit too heavily on the side of plastic, especially considering the price bracket. Borrowing a trait from the 911, the Panamera's ignition sits to the left of the steering wheel. The rest of the cabin, like the exterior, heads off in a new and often unsuccessful direction, however.
Wide rows of buttons flank the center console and overhead control stack, contrasting oddly with the well-executed leather and wood at both front and rear center consoles. Another shortfall in quality is found on the fiddly and weak-feeling steering column-mounted control stalks.