2011 Porsche Panamera Review

Rear 3/4 view of black 2011 Porsche Panamera parked on tarmac
The 2011 Porsche Panamera. "Controversial" doesn't begin to describe the styling.

The Nissan Juke. The Scion xB. Those are the two cars that have gotten the most negative comments about their styling while we were driving them. And by the most, I mean a 50/50 split on the xB, 60/40 negative/positive on the Juke.

The Porsche Panamera? 100% thumbs down.

Now, this is rare. Normally, when I roll up in a Porsche...any Porsche...even the Cayenne and especially the 911...there's a lot of oohing and aahing and "omigodiwantone" going on.

Not with the Panamera. "Looks like someone dropped a boulder on a 911" was the frequent review.

Front 3/4 view of black 2011 Porsche Panamera parked in rural setting
Approach the 2011 Porsche Panamera from the front the first few times. It'll help.

The good news is that, especially from the front, there is some family resemblance to the cars we've come to know and love from Porsche. And, while not blindingly fast, at least not in Panamera 4 all-wheel-drive form like our tester, it still is a very quick big sedan...0-60 in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 159 miles per hour.

That performance is from the 3.6 liter V6, which cooks up 300 horsepower and 295 pounds per foot of torque. With a 7-speed automatic, the Panamera gets an EPA estimated 18 city/26 highway miles per gallon. Which, again, is very good for a big sedan. And it handles very, very well.

Tan leather and wood in 2011 Porsche Panamera interior
The four-seat interior of the 2011 Porsche Panamera.
Inside the car, you can't see what the car looks like on the outside, and you are in a very Porsche environment...at least a Porsche environment as defined by the Cayenne SUV. There's room for four, it's all very plush...but the Teutonic simplicity of the marque's best sports cars? No. Of course, you probably couldn't sell a luxury sedan equipped like that, but the Panamera went the exact opposite direction. There are forty-four buttons on the center console alone. Factor in window switches, audio system stuff and the rest, and the count throughout the cabin gets stratospheric.

The list of what comes with the car as standard equipment and what's optional is very long and highly dependent on whether you order the Panamera, Panamera S, Panamera 4, Panamera 4S, Panamera S Hybrid, Panamera Turbo or Panamera Turbo S, so we'll just let you surf over to Porsche's website to check it out for yourself.

As noted above, ours was the Panamera 4. Base price $79,800. And Porsche's press fleet folks added Basalt Black Metallic paint ($790), a ski bag ($405), auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors ($420), front heated seats ($525), heated steering wheel ($250), 19" Panamera Turbo wheels ($1,950), a Bose surround sound system ($1,440), SiriusXM radio ($750) and Porsche crest front headrests ($285). Bottom line including $975 destination charge: $87,590.

The only thing missing...at least to this Porschephile who's never met a 911 he didn't like? The roar of the engine. Porsche's sixes give off this wonderful wail when you tromp on the accelerator, but the Panamera V6 just gathers up speed silently. I wonder if the faster Panameras (the S hybrid makes 60 in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 167, the S 5.2 and 175, the 4S 4.8 and 175, the Turbo 4.0 and 188 and the Turbo S 3.6 and 190) have any of that snarl or if it's all speed.  Hopefully Porsche will allow us to find out first-hand.

Again, you have to remember that the Panamera is new territory...Porsche's response to swoopy luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A7, Maserati Quattroporte and the Jaguar XJ. And by any objective measure, they've hit the target.