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Which Porsche Panamera is this?

It’s the brand new Porsche Panamera Turbo. All 542bhp, 190mph and £113,000 of it.

Big numbers, and it’s a big car. Longer and broader than before, it’s now over five metres long and nearly two metres wide. While it resembles the car it replaces, every single part is new.

It looks a bit better though, right?

It’s a cleaner, neater design, particularly round the back. I actually had a soft spot for the way the old Panamera looked, but this is undeniably a smarter thing. Follow one from behind and its rear treatment really does look like a high-rise 911, rather than a big old hatchback with 911-alike lights.

A longer wheelbase, lower roofline, and larger separation between the front axle and A-pillars all help smooth out the Panamera’s proportions. Room inside stays the same, but the rear is ample for adults, rather than commodious. Boot space is akin to a Honda Civic’s.

Enough sensible chat. How fast is it?

Don’t worry, your gastropub bragging rights are all but assured. Its 4.0-litre V8 engine places its two turbochargers inside its V, like a Mercedes AMG GT. Peak numbers are 542bhp and 568lb ft.

So despite its leviathan size and two-tonne kerb weight (before options), it can hit 62mph in 3.6 seconds, on its way to a 190mph top speed. Don’t forget Porsche can be quite conservative in its claimed figures, too. Yikes.

The more mechanically minded will pore over the Turbo’s tech spec for hours, but we’ll reduce it to a couple of brief details. Cylinder deactivation means it’ll run on four of its eight cylinders between 950 to 3,500 rpm and below 184lb ft, no doubt assisting Porsche’s 30.4mpg claims.

Meanwhile, a 150-micron thick iron nitrate coating inside those cylinders ensures the engine warms up nice and quickly, so you can go hard and fast as soon as possible on a track day. We don’t know how thick a micron is, nor how many Panamera owners go on circuit. But hey, facts like that are nerd’s gold.

And how does it drive?

Considering its supercar-like performance, undramatically. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed PDK auto gearbox are both standard, smoothing out the power delivery to ensure your most recent meal will only be rearranged if you use the optional launch control system. Which, incidentally, feels like it’s boring holes in the tarmac in the seconds before you take off.

But whether you’re pelting up to national speed limit out of a village or accelerating towards its vmax on an Autobahn, this is high performance at its least deranged. Only the soaring engine note at the top end of the rev counter and the rude pops and crackles of the (£2,225 optional) sports exhaust remind you of the madness beneath. At a typical motorway cruise, this is an absurdly refined car.

Fun, though?

On more interesting roads, it’s uncommonly talented for a car so heavy. With the standard air suspension in its most hunkered down mode and the (£1,478 optional) four-wheel steering system doing its thing, the speed you can take into and then carry through corners is simply mind-boggling. To find the limits of this car’s traction you’d need a big old circuit.

Upon first impression, it means a car that’s not as fun or involving as its famous badge might promise. But this is not meant to be a four-door 911 R. And soon the novelty of maintaining so much speed in something so large will have you grinning. Particularly if you’ve got passengers on board, perplexed by it all.

And we got lucky with a very empty piece of three-lane Autobahn. With three people and a shedload of luggage on board, the car showed an indicated 308kmh, or 192mph in old money (evidence above). No matter your disposition, that’s joyously daft ability.

There’s just one caveat to all of this. The Panamera’s width. Never mind the games of Width Restrictor Roulette you’ll be playing in town, it feels massive on twisting country roads, enough to seriously stymie otherwise dizzying cross-country pace when corners are unsighted. Porsche says its new dashboard is designed to exaggerate the feeling of width, which from a company with such rich form in driver’s cars, is a concept that confuses us.

What else is going on inside?

All sorts. The interior is the biggest revolution from Porsche in a long time, with most buttons replaced by touch sensitive displays, and electronic screens everywhere. To please enthusiasts the rev counter has stayed analogue (while the driving position is apparently 50mm lower than any rival), but the levels of electrickery inside might easily overwhelm.

For luxury, there’s an optional Burmester stereo, some sops to self-driving (including lane-keep assist and an adaptive cruise control system, which reads the road two miles ahead to alter speed and gear selection) and a night vision system.

And dynamically, there are so many different modes to prod through concerning engine and suspension tune, you might end up befuddled. Better to stick to the rotary dial on the steering wheel that switches between Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes.

The former activates stop/start and sees you coasting during a motorway cruise, while the latter helped the Panamera Turbo lap the Nürburgring in 7m38s. For reference, that’s as quick as a Lexus LFA, and a mere ten seconds behind Walter Rohrl in a Porsche Carrera GT.

Back to that price, please. It’s £113,000.

It is, and that’s before options. Porsche is as stingy here with standard equipment as always, and all the lovely tech you’ll want to coo over will seriously bulk that number out. The Panamera is posher than ever, though; cocooned in its tech-rich cockpit at a refined 150mph Autobahn cruise, it feels fantastic.

But then so does the £88,700 Panamera 4S petrol, the entry point until more frugal models arrive in the near future. It uses a 434bhp twin-turbo V6, but actually makes a more interesting noise and feels more interactive at low speed than the Turbo. It’s also lighter.

Either way, though, the Panamera is a car that pegs the driver lower down in its priorities than other Porsches, while simultaneously taking the brand’s luxury credentials to new heights. Sitting atop a new platform that can accommodate different sizes and body styles, perhaps the room for a smaller, sportier saloon is being carved out before our very eyes.

What do you think?

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