2010 Porsche Panamera
Fire up the 400-horsepower, direct-injection 4.8-liter V-8 engine that's fitted in the base S model and you'll soon start thinking about numbers. Numbers like 5.2 seconds 0-60 mph or 4.8 seconds for the all-wheel-drive 4S. Four seconds flat for the 500-horsepower Turbo. Two tenths of a second shaved from each of those numbers by the options Sport Chrono pack's launch control feature. And for good measure, 175 mph top speeds for the non-turbo variants, and 188 mph for the Turbo. Despite the brawny power and rapid acceleration, there are no gas guzzler taxes here, as the non-turbo cars rate 16/24 mpg and the Turbo gets a 15/23 mpg rating. Activating stop-start can save even more fuel.
All that power is routed through a seven-speed, dual clutch PDK automatic transmission that uses Porsche's push-pull shift levers, one on each side of the wheel performing identical functions. Models with the Sport Chrono package can flick through the gears in manual mode, holding the car right at its 6,700-rpm redline if desired. Use that transmission to whip around a road course at 140 mph, and you'll find the 911's flat-six rumble replaced with a more machine-like--yet still entirely Porsche--whir.
While on track you'll notice the Panamera's 4,000-pound-plus curb weight, but Porsche mitigates the negative effects with light steering feel and well-adjusted electronic driver aids. Porsche Active Suspension Management lets the ride go from soft to firm as needed, while an optional air suspension (standard on Turbo models) helps improve the range of adjustability. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control uses active anti-roll bars to help improve flatness in cornering without requiring stiffer spring rates, while a rear differential lock helps improve traction in inclement weather. The combined effect of the dynamic assistance systems is a lowering of 0.8 inches at speed, improving aerodynamics and lowering the center of gravity. An active spoiler also deploys to aid grip.