Sometimes, Betrayal Isn’t Such A Bad Thing
When Porsche launched the Panamera at the cusp of the 2010’s, the purist world were up in arms revolting furiously. This community of people had already endured the “tragedy” of Porsche’s first SUV launch, the Cayenne, a few years before that as well. Come the Panamera’s launch, the logic behind the foul cries were simple: How could the pioneers of the most purist model, the Porsche 911, make a four-door version of the iconic sportscar? It was hearsay at the time and legend has it, the remnant of those foul cries can still be heard around the world even now. “Betrayal!”, they said, “Of the highest order!”
Now, almost a decade on from its introduction, the Panamera has done exactly what Porsche intended it to be: the best four-door sports saloon on planet earth. Period. Emulating the cult-ish status of its Godfather, the legendary 911 lineage, the Panamera too, was seen as a betrayal of purist nomenclature. Where the 911 amazed crowds with its air-cooled, rear-mounted flat engines back in the ’60s, the Panamera was also seen as a rebel against the usual pattern in the automotive industry at its inception. Today however, it is almost stupid to contest the fact that Stuttgart’s finest have built a model line that leads the sports saloon segment.
It’s a success story that began with the coining of its name- ‘Panamera’. It is a loaded designation that has come full-circle now, given the symbolism behind the name ‘Panamera’. Porsche’s stellar four-door model is named after one of the most brutal road races that has ever taken place on planet earth- the Carrera Panamericana, a legendary cross-border race from 1950-1954 which began in Mexico at first. While it was short-lived, it was often times likened to the famed pioneering Italian races before it like the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio, two extremely iconic events in motorsport folklore. The Carrera Panamericana (which means ‘Pan-American Race’ in English) in itself was inaugurated to celebrate the completion of the 3,507 km north-south section of Pan-American Highway in 1950. I mean, what better way to officiate a highway then to have a race on it, right?
Today, if you looked up the schematics of one of the world’s largest highways, you’ll see how the Pan-American Highway has gone on to link the entire Americas via the Pacific coastal countries, measuring up to almost 30,000 km in total length. Many who have traveled along it can attest to how the entire network of roads take you through a whizzing experience of diverse climates and terrains, from jungle to deserts even. It’s had a big impact on immigration activity on the American continents. The Highway is as legendary as its officiating race back in the ’50s and Porsche chose to christen their first full attempt at a luxury saloon after the Carrera Panamericana.
I for one do not believe that it is by chance Porsche chose this name simply because of how the Panamera model has performed so well in spite of being called a “betrayal”. It wasn’t a fairy tale all the way though, because the Panamera, at least the first gen, was dealt heavy criticism. Some called its looks uninspiring and its invoking of the 911 spirit, a failure. Even so, there were many who absolutely loved it, seeing as the Panamera tremendously widened Porsche’s brand appeal to new customers almost single-handedly. It was this new customer base that made their views known in terms of preference for more comfort and cabin function, something purists detest mind you, with the first generation. Porsche did their homework and have now come back yet again, with a stellar re-iteration of the Panamera in this, stunning, new second generation.
At this point let me save you the trouble if you’re not an avid reader- the new Panamera is simply sublime. You should go and test drive it with Porsche Kuala Lumpur at Glenmarie. When you do go, bring along your cheque book/credit cards because you will be smitten silly by her abilities and attributes. I wish I had that amount of luxury with my finances simply because of how this new Panamera behaves on the road when you caress her right.
In spite the fact that we didn’t get enough time with this new, second-gen Panamera (grand total of six hours), it was enough to know that Porsche have turned a really good car into a, really, really good car. When I decided to open up her lungs a little more, I felt the sweetest-sounding rumble coming from the Panamera’s V6 mill. With each gradual press on her throttle, it was as if each of its 440 German horses were galloping alongside me in a menacing-looking cohort.
Sitting on those rugged 19-inch wheels, she looks like she’s about to prowl on her next prey. And yet, the beauty about this new Panamera, at least from varying angels is that it can look so submissive and tame too. I put this down to how Porsche have cleaned up the rear look of the Panamera. It has a more distinctive sloping line that collects itself beautifully with that ingenious, retractable spoiler being the icing on a well-presented cake.
Since it’s an all-wheel drive setup, her maximum torque of 550 Nm can be felt on each turn whenever you tilt the rpm meter between 2,000 to about 6,000 rpm. When this happens, the euphoric feeling is quite addictive and what’s more, she dashes to the 100 km/h mark in just 5.5 seconds. Too slow you say? Heck no! It’s just right in my view but still, when you’re behind her sweet-to-the-touch steering wheel, she always seems to go way faster than that. Her handling attributes are enchanting; heavy into corners and razor-ly sharp exiting them, it’s a right proper beast at full whack. I can only imagine how fun it must be to drive the V8 in similar spirited fashion.
The newly explored interior is actually a huge level ahead of the outgoing model. Where its predecessor had a bit of busy-ness about her cabin, this new cabin is one that meets the current digital age demands while re-imagining things in a traditional sense. The air cond vents for one, can be moved/positioned electronically by swiping on a touchscreen both in the front at at the rear. Its seats are hand-stitched and at least in this bright red theme, they look absolutely stunning and sexy. Accompanying all the fine interior details is a no-nonsense Bose sound system, which can also be upgraded according to Porsche’s customisation lists.
When I think of a way to capture this short bout with Porsche’s new Panamera, I cant help but smile at the irony of it all. When you think about it, the Pan-American Highway’s growth and the iconic status of the Carrera Panamericana today is somewhat symbolic of what the Porsche Panamera has also done in recent years as well. I’ll draw you back to the earlier point: You see, the purists scowled and raised their pitchforks when the Panamera was first launched. It was against the Porsche way, or more specifically, the path of the 911, a “betrayal” to the fledgling purist philosophies that gave growth to the Porsche brand.
The German brand however, have since become true sportscar pioneers and the fact that many a Porsches have accumulated record-times on The Green Hell is proof that the brand knows how to put the spin on these “betrayals” and applying this jab into their four-door sports saloon model is borderline arrogant, an arrogance only Porsche can be excused for. Jesus might not agree with me on this and I might pay the price when I head to the afterlife one day. But in this instance, if it wasn’t for this betrayal of one of the most purist sportscar philosophies in the world, we wouldn’t have this stellar new Panamera model line. It might be a Judas, but a bloody-wicked interpretation of that ol’ villain if you ask me.