Porsche Panamera GTS driven
Tom Ford drives Porsche's mighty new super saloon. Prepare to be amazed
Every Porsche range seems to get more bewildering given time, and the Panamera isn't immune to a variant list that reproduces like a virus. Enter the new GTS, pitched to slot neatly under the Turbo and above the 4S.
In fact, it's a bit of both: the front end is basically nicked from the Turbo (headlights, intakes), along with the active rear spoiler. Any chrome is replaced with sober black trim - including around the headlights and windowlines, and there are a few less subtle graphics along the side and a double pairing of matt-black sports exhausts. Ok, so it still resembles a blushing whale in its GTS-specific carmine red paint, but at least it's going in the right direction.
Underneath, there's more of the same, a kind of non-turbo Panamera Turbo. So all-wheel drive with Porsche Traction Management and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus to give 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds and 288kph. The engine is the same 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 found in the 4S, but tweaked to produce 30bhp more, revving some 400rpm higher to 7,100rpm. The result is 430bhp (just 70bhp shy of the forced-induction car) and 520Nm of torque, but delivered via a free-revving engine tuned by good old-fashioned mechanical changes rather than just an electronic spanner applied to the ECU.
So the GTS gets a new induction system with a couple of new air-filter modules - behind the two intakes in the bottom of the front bumper - that open above 3,500rpm, modified intake camshafts, harder valve springs and tweaked engine management to make best use of the extra air and revs.
Bluntly, this is the best Panamera in the range. Mighty power delivered through a long, sweet rev-band, and a bonkers V8 soundtrack, helped by the Porsche Sound Symposer that pipes engine noise direct to a membrane in the A-pillar. The Turbo (and Turbo S, for that matter) end up being a little dominated by the way the engine makes power, but the GTS is exciting and willing, without being scary.
You can really hammer the throttle and explore the Panamera's surprisingly agile chassis and drivetrain without falling foul of turbo torque. You have to expend more effort to really drive it, but the rewards are far greater. More drama, more fun, more of the time. If you have to have a Panamera, this is the one.