It seems the Chinese like to sit in the back of a 911 such is the strength of the status symbol behind being driven rather than to drive!
This was just one of the random – but completely fascinating facts – I picked up at the UK press launch of the new Panamera.
I was lucky enough to have to fill the size 12 shoes of the editor, because he was busy getting our next issue to press (which is out later this week by the way).
At the fantastic Porsche Driving Experience Centre, at Silverstone, I was given a presentation by development and marketing heads from Porsche on this eagerly anticipated member of the car maker’s family.
They told us about the concept for the car, the reasons why Porsche wanted to enter such an exclusive sector and of course some very interesting facts along the way.
Porsche has high hopes for the Panamera, with estimated sales figures of 20,000 units worldwide in the first year. And with the waiting list for the top end Turbo already stretching over six months, I can well expect these figures to be realised.
After the presentation, it was clear that there truly is a gap to be filled between the luxury Bentleys and Rollers of this world and the sports saloon M5s and E63s. Blending a pure Porsche driving experience with practical luggage and passenger space seems hard to imagine, but the four years of development have paid off and produced a beautiful (in the flesh) and well thought out solution.
Taking to the track, I was able to experience the launch control system of the Turbo. It is almost hard to compute that such a big car can dispatch a 0-60 time in just four seconds dead, but it does, and with ease!
Even though the car can accommodate four adults in as much comfort as a current BMW 7 Series, it still feels light and nimble when put through the demanding low friction handling circuit of the centre. It is actually a bit scary to drive a car so hard and with such ‘sportscar’ confidence to then turn around and see another row of seats (or some very green looking passengers in my case)…
Porsche dealers must be rubbing their hands together with the prospect of selling customers a ‘practical saloon’ to park alongside their ‘Sunday toy’ – as that’s exactly what the manufacturer thinks typical buyers will do.
The Panamera is not to be compared with its sporty stablemates, but is designed to compliment them. It is no accident that you can fit four suitcases in the boot, nor is it a lucky turn of events that the car sits perfectly in size between the current 911 and the Cayenne.
However, my favourite part of the day was when another attendee asked how many parts had been borrowed from other Porsches to make the Panamera.
And the answer – delivered by a completely dead pan head of development? ‘Zee badge’…
It was comedy gold.
My full road test of the new car will be in the next issue of Car Dealer.