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The Mercury Cars Guide : September 12th 2009
24--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, September 12, 2009 Bold Porsche does it again It only took 10 kilometres along the Great Ocean Road for the Porsche Panamera to click into place. Paul Gover reports EMOTION: A pair of Porsche Panamera Turbos eat up the miles on a test drive between Melbourne and Adelaide. EYE-CATCHER: The sleek lines of the Porsche Panamera Turbo. I CAME to the Panamera won- dering about a four-door Por- sche, about the return of a front- engined Porsche, and about an all-new luxury car with a starting price --- remember, starting price --- of $270,200. And then there is the styling . . . But a few corners, some lumpy bitumen, a few overtaking sprints, and the chance to settle into some Pana- mera luxury had me convinced. I'm still not in love with way it looks, but the Panamera is a great car. Then again, that's what I expect from Porsche. It's a company that knows its knitting and knows have to turn dreams into reality. This time it has decided the time is right for a four-door luxury Porsche for the people who want more than just a selfish two-seater sports car or a hulking SUV. The Cayenne has worked for famil- ies and people who have to have a Porsche badge on their SUV, but the Panamera is very different. That's why Porsche spent $1.5 bil- lion to dive into the deep and danger- ous waters at the top end of the luxury car business. It knew it had to create a car that was a genuine grand tourer and a genuine luxury car if it was going to hold onto its older and wealthier owners. The global financial meltdown has hurt the car business badly, but Porsche is still flat-out on Panamera and aiming to sell 200 cars in Australia next year. It already has a waiting list, even for the Panamera Turbo that comes in from $364,900. The heavy bottom line on the Panamera buys a lot of good stuff, from a 4.8-litre V8 engine with 294 kiloWatts and 500 Newton-metres to the turbo with 368 and 700 to a seven- speed double-clutch gearbox, full four- seater cabin with individual sports buckets, satnav and auto aircon, bi- Xenon headlamp 18-inch alloys as a minimum and everything from a tyre- pressure monitor to ESP stability control, eight airbags and active sus- pension management on the safety front. But that's all brochure stuff, and the first drive in the Panamera is about answers and emotion. My first reaction, as we set off from Porsche central in Melbourne, is the size and presence of the car --- and the way the car turns heads, even as we stop for a breather opposite a Ferrari- Maserati dealership. Heading down the Great Ocean Rd, with Adelaide programmed into the satnav, I quickly learn that the Pana- mera can swallow fast distances with- out indigestion. And that everything from the look and feel of the leather to the design of the centre console --- think upmarket stereo remote control --- is right at the top end of the classy car business. The Panamera is still a Porsche and still a sports car, but it is aimed straight at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series that dominate the luxury world. There are others, but even Audi has not been able to mount a serious threat to the German double act. Compared with the Benz-BMW flag- ships, the Panamera is much more squat, has a lighter cabin feel, and is lacking in the boot. It can still carry stuff, but it does not match a 7 or an S for big baggage handling. Then, again, it is still a four-seater sports car and that's something the German battleships cannot match. on the road I EXPECTED the Panamera to drive like a bigger, heavier 911. It doesn't. It is more planted than the world's benchmark sports car, less edgy and more balanced, with with the refined edge you expect in a four-seat luxury car. It is, in short, more relaxed and relaxing to drive. But it is still very, very swift. And responsive. And enjoyable. It is nothing remotely like a Benz or BMW to drive. The closest thing I have found is the Maserati Quattroporte, but the Panamera is more compliant and more responsive, feels more roomy, and you never worry that it might fail to proceed. I drive both the Panamera S and the flagship Turbo during the long drive from Melbourne to Adelaide, and each has its major plus points. The S is obviously $100,000 less costly, but its 294 kW V8 has the right combination of performance and economy for Australian conditions. It goes more than well enough and the chassis is taut and responsive. Why bother with the Turbo? Well, apart from the engine, the chassis steps up with active anti-roll bars, bigger wheels and tyres, and all- wheel drive for lousy weather, and there is more equipment. The Turbo is the car you want when you want to hussle, and I can instantly feel the difference --- more tyre bite, better feel, higher speeds --- when I push on through some twisting bends. It also squats and kicks when the turbos unless their 700 Newton- metres. The double-clutch gearbox in the drive cars is slick and responsive, but I still question Porsche's silly gear switches on the steering col- umn. It is bringing paddles soon to the 911 Turbo and I'm hoping they feed quickly to the rest of the range. As for the Panamera pair, they are quiet and comfortable at Australian cruising speed, shrink around you with every kilometre, and just plain do the job. So the Panamera gets a tick from me. Life in the back seats of the Porsche Panamera is mighty fine. The view is good, there is plenty of space to stretch out, and when the driver gets going the individual bucket seats give you plenty of support. It's important news because the Panamera is the first four-seat Por- sche sports car and the company's first tilt at Benz and BMW in the luxury limousine world. The car has grown from a selfish 911 sports car into a four-place luxury model without too many compromises. The focus is still on the driver, but sitting in the back is relaxing and enjoyable. There is plenty of legroom front and back. small torque Porsche Panamera (S and Turbo) Price: from $270,200 (Panamera S) and $364,900 (Panamera Turbo) Body: Four-door sedan Seats: Four Engine: 4.8-litre V8, 4.8-litre twin turbo Power: 294kW/6500 revs, 368kW/6000 revs Torque: 500Nm/3500-5000 revs, 700Nm/2250-4500 revs Transmission: seven-speed PDK double-clutch gearbox, rear or all-wheel drive (Turbo) Safety: eight airbags, ESP, anti-skid brakes Performance: 0-100km/h 5.6s, top speed 283km/h; 0-100km/h 4.2s top speed 303km/h (Turbo) Economy: 12.5L/km, 12.2L/100km (Turbo) Emissions: 293g/km, 286g/km (Turbo) www.djmotors.com.au email@example.com Glenorchy 275 Main Road, Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3 315 Brian Anning 0418 531 853 Chris Wakefield 0400 635 446 Allan Gebel 0428 729 659 Hobart 1a Brisbane Street, Hobart Phone: 6213 3300 Warren Amos 0417 544 829 Luke Mitchell 0408 545 146 Easy finance available with DJ Financial Services †To approved business clients only, with a $2,500 deposit over five years with a 30% residual payment. Interest rate 10.50%. Mazda Madness at DJ's 10 Mazda 3s to choose from! 06 MAZDA 3 MPS 2.3 litre turbo, 6-speed manual, 18" alloy wheels, stability control. Stock No. 321890 $30,990 DRIVE AWAY $17 .00 per day† 05 MAZDA SP23 2.3 litre, 5-speed manual, sports suspension, 17" alloy wheels, climate control. Stock No. 321897 $ 21,990 DRIVE AWAY $12.00 per day† 06 MAZDA 3 Neo 2.0 litre, sports automatic, ABS brakes, air conditioning, cruise control. Stock No. 322030 $19 ,990 DRIVE AWAY $10 .75 per day†
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