2012 Porsche Panamera Performance

$28,031 - $35,499

2012 Porsche Panamera Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Porsche Panamera was new.


Performance: 9.0

Porsche offers the Panamera in a number of configurations, allowing you to tailor this super luxury car to meet your needs. But regardless of which model you choose, reviewers have good things to say about the Panamera.

Acceleration is brisk in the V6-powered Panamera and Panamera 4, while some reviewers say that the more powerful S models are blisteringly fast. Handling is also impressive for a super luxury car, and critics note that the base Panamera is likely the most agile of the pack, thanks to its light curb weight. Despite the high praise, some test drivers complain 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 under hard acceleration.

  • "For all its capability and versatility, though, the Panamera does not offer anywhere near the driving involvement of its sports car brethren." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "On all Panamera models, the ride is composed but firm in the Teutonic tradition. Most bumps are well absorbed with very good body control." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The 2012 Porsche Panamera is an accomplished, luxurious grand touring car as well as an engaging, highly capable high-performance car." -- Edmunds 
  • "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 

Acceleration and Power

The base Panamera features a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, which 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.

All models use a seven-speed PDK automated-manual transmission. Base and S models are rear-wheel drive, while the Panamera 4 and 4S come with all-wheel drive. If you want better acceleration, consider Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, which improves acceleration by adding launch control, which helps the Panamera accelerate more quickly off the line.

Despite its impressive 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.

The EPA reports that the V6-powered Panamera and Panamera 4 get 18/27 and 18/26 mpg city/highway, respectively. The Panamera S and 4S both manage 16/24 mpg city/highway.

  • "The Panamera is also fast, especially when you opt for one of its V-8 engines." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "With the V8, the transmission doesn't always kick down promptly for passing, though power is ample once it does. The transmission seems better behaved with the V6, with immediate response in any situation. Normal acceleration from a stop is smooth." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The PDK transmission fires off gearchanges with urgency when pedaling the accelerator hard, or with fluid transitions when cruising down the highway." -- Edmunds 
  • "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 
  • "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 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 competing luxury sedans. They’re particularly impressed with V6 models, which are lighter and seem even more athletic in the corners. One reviewer drove the Panamera 4 through snow and ice, and reported that the all-wheel drive Porsche held traction exceptionally well in those conditions.

The Panamera comes with an adjustable suspension, which is similar to that found on the Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series. Reviewers say that the suspension’s Comfort mode 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 mode if the driver accelerates quickly. Test drivers love the exceptional stopping power provided by the standard brakes. Optional ceramic brakes are available for even more stopping power, but most critics think they’re unnecessary since the standard ones are so good.

  • "The steering is accurate but numb, the brakes powerful but not very progressive." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Due to their lower curb weights, V6 models feel more nimble, driving like smaller cars than they really are." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Steering is precise and handling is comparable to that of much smaller sports cars." -- Edmunds 
  • "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 
  • "The rear-drive Panamera feels like a different car. From the first turn it felt lighter, more tossable and more fun." -- Cars.com 
  • "I drove my test car in significant snow and ice and found it remarkably sure-footed. … 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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