What is it?
Porsche's four-seat, four-door, er, hatchback is Germany's answer to the Maserati Quattroporte.
When you fling it along a difficult empty road it's amazing. The body hunkers down and never floats or rolls, and the grip just keeps coming. The steering is accurate too. The suspension (at least on the Turbo, other versions vary) has self-levelling variable air springs, adaptive dampers and adaptive anti-roll bars. This means it can work no matter how many people are on board, and can be supple on the straights but firm on bends.
Two versions of Porsche's 4.8-litre V8 - normally aspirated with 400bhp and a turbo with 500bhp - and a 3.6-litre V6 diesel. The non-turbo V8 is so effortlessly and undramatically quick that you may as well just drive it straight to the cop shop and hand yourself in. The power in the Turbo is gigantic - at any revs. If any passenger is boring you, just press the accelerator and they'll quickly be silenced. If it weren't so darned wide, this would be a staggering overtaker.
On the inside
The Panamera is specifically a four-seater rather than an occasional five, with the rear seats hunkered down low like the fronts, with your passengers' backsides well below the line of the transmission tunnel. This means there's actually a lot of space back there; above, in front and to the side. But it also means whoever's in the back is properly secure when you start going for it. The facility of a hatch, combined with the fact that those rear seats fold to a capacity of 1,250 litres, also means the Panamera is vastly more practical than your average luxury saloon. Not that anyone wiill use it for a tip-run.
Let's not forget, luxury is something that Porsche can do. It may only have sports cars and an ignomious SUV in its back catalogue, but these days they're all finished to a standard that makes high-end limos look a bit shoddy in places (eg the Quattroporte). And so for the Panamera, Porsche has upped the ante. The result is impressive, feeling as strong as an S-Class. However, if we had a complaint it's that some of the materials and textures make the interior feel a bit chintzy, a bit too executive.
Hmmm, let's not worry about this, shall we? If you're forking out £95k for the Turbo you're not going to worry about its high running costs and 23mpg. If you are, then buy an S-Class diesel.
Saying that, the Hybrid is a stepping stone to an electric future: it emits just 167g/km of CO2 and returns nearly 40mpg.