A different driving experience

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 3, 2013 - 20:15
  • Updated : Mar 3, 2013 - 20:15
The Korea Herald, in cooperation with carmakers, offers a test-driving experience to executive officials at Korean or multinational companies or ranking diplomats here. The opinion below is the author’s own. For any inquiry into this column, please contact ― Ed.

When the Panamera was unveiled by Porsche, a renowned brand that represented an uncompromising motor sports for the purists, my feelings were very mixed. Of course, we have the Cayenne SUV, which was an even bigger surprise announcement by Porsche. Now with the Panamera, a proper four-door sedan, I felt that Porsche was going mainstream.

But hey, even Aston Martin, which was my previous toy, introduced the four-door hatchback, the Rapide. When I was told that the car I was to test drive for the weekend had a diesel engine, supplied by Audi, as in the Cayenne diesel, I was a bit disappointed. And since I never personally owned anything other than two-door sports cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and others, this was going to be a different driving experience.
Porsche Panamera Diesel Platinum Edition

Regardless of my personal choice of cars in the past, I was pleasantly surprised by the look of the car. At first approach, the Panamera’s exterior felt big and chubby. But the Porsche bloodline was clear and apparent from all angles and details.

Upon closer more close inspection, the roofline appears lower than in most other luxury sedans, its posture seems appropriately more aggressive and muscular, and with its rear wing open, it definitely has a purposeful appearance. It is much more masculine than similar brand-name four-door sedans such as the Aston Martin Rapide or the Jaguar XJ.

But the most impressive part of this car is the interior. The front cabin is spacious and again is of the same bloodline as the 911 Carrera, which translates to sporty and technical. It is probably the best interior that Porsche has produced thus far, with very tight fitting and a visually pleasing combination of leather, aluminum and piano finishings. The back seat, with the same bucket seat and central console, is very inviting for a more serious ride, which reminded me of Concorde seats.

The ride quality is solid and tight, despite the unavoidable heavy momentum due to its weight (1,900 kilograms) and size. My preferred setting was full sport mode, rather than the comfort mode, which changes the overall quality of the car’s demeanor toward the 911.

The 250-horsepower turbo diesel engine combined with the standard 8-speed Tiptronic S transmission, to my surprise, was flexible and sounded more like a “gently” tuned petrol engine than other diesels I recently experienced. The specs indicate 6.8 seconds for 0 to 100 kilometers per hour, which was adequate for most situations and passes. During more spirited stunts through the open freeways, the Panamera felt like a smaller car, becoming very agile through curves with good accelerations when called for ― and all this with the efficiency of diesel. I did not feel the fuel needle move at all during the half-day drive. This was a big change given that my previous two-door cars would have emptied at least half the tank.

Overall, the entire experience was very pleasing as well as surprising for what it can do with such a small amount of fuel. The driver seat of the Panamera is better than in most other sedans for those who have a sporting spirit. The rear seat, however, if you ever happen to be in it, feels as good as the driver’s seat with its Porsche emblems on the headrest.
Yung H. Chung poses behind the wheel of the Panamera near Jeong-dong in central Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

By Yung H. Chung,Managing director at AlixPartners Korea