2011 Porsche Panamera Performance

$24,370 - $35,330

2011 Porsche Panamera Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Porsche Panamera was new.


Performance: 9.1

Porsche offers the Panamera in a number of configurations, allowing you to tailor this super luxury car to meet your needs. New for 2011 are the base Panamera, Hybrid S and Turbo S models. And while reviewers have yet to test the Hybrid S or Turbo S, they have good things to say about the base Panamera.

Acceleration is brisk in the V6-powered Panamera and Panamera 4, while some reviewers say it’s downright scary in the more powerful S and Turbo models. Handling is also impressive for a super luxury car, and reviewers note that the base Panamera is likely the most agile of the pack, thanks to its light curb weight. Despite the high praise, some reviewers note that the Panamera’s transmission is not the most refined. One reviewer specifically cites that the transmission on his test car, a Panamera 4S, would hesitate on hard acceleration.

  • "Of course, all the Panamera’s dynamic goodness is passed along: strong brakes, sharp steering, and move-over-pavement-I’m-in-charge handling." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The Panamera delivers astounding levels of performance for driving enthusiasts. Acceleration from the V8-powered Panamera is impressive, while the performance of the Turbo model is downright shocking. The car's handling limits are also surprising, as it corners like a much smaller sports car. Even the ride quality doesn't suffer, as this athletic sedan can insulate its occupants from the travails of the outside world just like a fine luxury car." -- Edmunds 
  • "The key difference between the Panamera and the Panamera S is acceleration. Porsche says the base Panamera jumps from 0 to 60 in 6.0 seconds with rear-wheel drive - 5.8 seconds with all-wheel drive. The time drops to 5.2 seconds (5.0 seconds with AWD) in the S (and to 4.0 seconds in the Turbo, which comes only with AWD)." -- BusinessWeek 
  • "Just a few years ago I would have written off the Panamera's V-6 version as falling short of Porsche buyers' expectations. Two things have changed my perspective: One is the power provided by Porsche's new V-6. The second is the surprising success of the Cayenne SUV's V-6 version -- following my dire predictions to the contrary." -- Cars.com 

Acceleration and Power

The Panamera is available with five different engine configurations. New for 2011 is the base Panamera, which features a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, which Porsche claims can go from zero to 60 in six seconds. This V6 model is well liked by the automotive press. They say that it offers enough power for most, and handles even better than more powerful models because of its lighter weight. Next in line is the Panamera S, whose 4.8-liter V8 puts out 400 horsepower. Porsche says that in S trim, the Panamera sprints to 60 in 5.2 seconds.

All that power is great, but if you’ve got a soft spot for the environment Porsche offers the Panamera S Hybrid. The S Hybrid nearly matches the power of the Panamera S with a hybrid supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 380 horsepower. Hybrid S models are slightly faster than the base Panamera, and Porsche claims a zero to 60 time of 5.7 seconds.

If you’ve got money to burn, and would like to burn rubber just as quickly, the Panamera Turbo and Panamera Turbo S are Porsche’s most powerful models in the product line. The Turbo puts out a blistering 500 horsepower, while the Turbo S goes even further, putting 550 horsepower to all four wheels. Turbo and Turbo S Panameras go from zero to 60 in 4.0 and 3.6 seconds, respectively according to Porsche.

All Porsche Panameras use a seven-speed PDK (double clutch) automatic transmission. Base, S and S Hybrid models put power to the rear wheels, while Panamera 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S models come with all-wheel drive. If you want better acceleration but the upper Panamera trims are a little out of your reach, look to the Panamera 4 or 4S, both of which offer slightly better acceleration thanks to improved, all-wheel drive grip. Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, which is available for about $1,500, also improves performance by providing launch control – a system that helps the Panamera accelerate more quickly off the line.

Despite all of its performance, reviewers do have one minor gripe with the Panamera. More than one test driver has mentioned that the transmission in the Panamera can hesitate under sudden acceleration, an issue that was most apparent in the Panamera 4S.

According to the EPA, the V6-powered Panamera and Panamera 4 get 18/27 and 18/26 mpg city/highway, respectively. The Panamera S and 4S both manage 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The Panamera Turbo is slightly less efficient, delivering 15/23 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Fuel averages for the S Hybrid and Turbo S models are not yet available, but when they are, we’ll bring them to you.

  • "Passing performance is solid, and the car goes on to a top speed of 160 mph, which is more than anyone except autobahn-storming Germans will ever need." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Normal acceleration from a stop is smooth. When flooring the gas from a stop, test AWD V8 models suffered from a brief hesitation followed by a couple of jerking motions within the first 50 feet. This was not an issue with V6 versions. Normally, the car starts off in second gear. If you floor the throttle from a stop, the transmission takes a moment to shift down to first before the car launches, and then there's a driveline jerk or two either due to clutch engagement, gear shifts, or center differential lockup." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Power can be served up with muscle-car wallops or in measured increments. The PDK transmission fires off gearchanges with urgency when pedaling the accelerator hard, or with fluid transitions when cruising leisurely down the highway." -- Edmunds 
  • "The only transmission available in the Panamera (at least on this side of the Atlantic) is Porsche's seven-speed, "PDK" dual-clutch automatic. It's a marvelous transmission with a manual shifting function and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. It's so quick and fun to operate that only driving purists will consider it a comedown from a traditional stick shift." -- BusinessWeek 
  • "Where the transmission wasn't as good as some was in reading my mind, kicking down at the most appropriate time without my having to resort to the shift buttons on the steering wheel. To be fair, modern transmissions are designed to adapt to one's driving style, and the gearbox and I didn't have much time to get to know each other." -- Cars.com 

Handling and Braking

Not many super luxury cars can match the 2011 Porsche Panamera in terms of handling, and reviewers have taken notice. If you’re expecting the Panamera to corner like a Porsche 911 or Boxster, you may be let down, but the automotive press generally agrees that the Panamera is lighter on its feet than anything else with four doors. They’re particularly impressed with V6 models, which are lighter and seem even more athletic in the corners. One reviewer even drove the Panamera 4 through snow and ice, and reported that the all-wheel drive Porsche held traction exceptionally well in those inclement conditions.

An adjustable suspension, similar to that found on the Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series, is featured on the Panamera. Reviewers say that the suspension’s “Comfort” setting is firmer than what’s found on those rivals. But the Panamera will also alter its suspension settings on its own if driver behavior changes. For example, the car will switch from Comfort to “Sport” if the driver accelerates quickly. The standard brakes on the Panamera are considered extraordinary by the automotive press. For even more stopping power, the Panamera can be equipped with optional ceramic brakes. But most reviewers think it’s unnecessary since the standard ones are so good.

  • "For luxury-sedan drivers who prefer pace over highway poise, the Panamera is the perfect tool. It actually rides quite well, too, if you opt for the $3980 adaptive air suspension." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Switch to Sport mode and the suspension firms further to provide sporty handling, but the Panamera, at least with the V8, feels too large and heavy to really feel sports-car agile. Due to their lower curb weights, V6 models feel more nimble, driving like smaller cars than they really are. Strong brakes provide impressive stopping power." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Steering is precise and handling is comparable to much smaller sports cars." -- Edmunds 
  • "The rear-drive Panamera feels like a different car. From the first turn it felt lighter, more tossable and more fun. You won't mistake it for a V-8, but the driveline and a liberal stability control setting let you slide the rear end about in ways the Panamera 4 never could. It's enough to provide this lesser-powered version with a bit of fun, even in normal driving." -- Cars.com 
  • "I drove my test car in significant snow and ice and found it remarkably sure-footed. That's partly because when the Panamera is starting off at a normal rate of speed (as opposed to screechingly fast), the transmission almost instantly shifts into second gear to save fuel. This, plus the intelligent all-wheel-drive system, keeps the tires from losing traction, as often happens in performance cars during winter driving." -- BusinessWeek 

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