Okay, so I'm now going into day four of my seven days with a 400-horsepower, all-wheel drive, 2011 Panamera 4S, Porsche's new four-door sedan.
Day one was all about absorption—taking in the gorgeously executed interior. The butter-soft leather dash, the cascading array of buttons and switch gear down the center console, the perfectly padded and bolstered seats, the broad variety of entertainment options, the four place cockpit-style seating. Pairing my iPhone to the Bluetooth system was a bit tricky, but once the connection was established, the degree of control was well worth it. The Porsche also streams audio via Bluetooth, so you can enjoy your music without physically connecting your device to the car. However, direct connection enables operation from the steering wheel, as well as the infotainment unit in the dash.
By day two, operation of the myriad controls had become second nature and I could focus my attention more on the rest of the car. Driving through downtown Oakland, I was comfortably enveloped and smooth cruising, unashamedly seduced by the plush interior. Until—I drove past a department store and caught a glimpse of the Panamera's profile reflected in a display window. Immediately reminded the majority of the beauty of the Porsche Panamera is beneath the surface, I reflexively cringed a bit.
But then, a bit later, parked and waiting for my daughter to come out of the dentist's office, a Brother walking down the sidewalk was stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of the Porsche. Almost unconsciously, he began orbiting the Panamera like the moon Io trapped in Jupiter's gravitational pull. He was saying, softly at first, and to no one in particular, but more loudly with each pass; "That's just too much pimpin'—That's Just Too Much Pimpin'—DA-YAM DAWG! THAT'S-JUST-TOO-MUCH-PIMPIN'!"
(For those of you challenged by Brother-speak, that means he liked it—a lot!)
Following that episode, I began to note the majority of the African-American population of Oakland and surrounding communities absolutely adore the look of the Panamera. And, when they get a glimpse of the interior, they really lose their minds. Given Blacks are traditionally style leaders and trend setters, this bodes well for Porsche's first foray into the luxury sedan marketplace.
Me though, (my Blackness notwithstanding), I'm still on the fence regarding the look of the car.
But I will tell you this, when it comes to driving, Panamera is every bit a Porsche. It's almost surreal the way the car exhibits its own particularly lovable brand of schizophrenia. The adjustable suspension system enables you to transform the big four-door from luxocruiser to winding road bruiser at will. And, in so doing, you'll find yourself ripping along at an amazing rate of speed. Activating the Sport Plus system places the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in a quicker shift mode, advances the throttle response, lowers the car, and tightens the suspension.
Before proceeding any farther, it's best to warn the people in the back seat about what's going to happen next (yeah, I forgot to do that...but hey, I do these things so you don't have to). Hit the throttle with serious intent and the car absolutely explodes into motion.Trees blur and the road narrows as the biggest Porsche does a highly credible backroad imitation of its diminutive 911 sibling. Turning into a corner, the Panamera takes a set and rockets through the curve with absolutely unrelenting grip. That it does all of this in a drama-free fashion is a positively astounding experience.
Out on the highway, the Porsche exhibits an unparalleled confidence. As stable as a father's love for his youngest daughter, the Panamera converts miles into smiles in a logarithmic fashion. I feel like a superhero running this car down the interstate at elevated speeds. Have to keep an eye on the speedo though—90 mph feels like 50 mph.
All in all, it's so far, so good, as my seven days of Panamera progress. By all indications though, that seventh day is going to come all too soon.