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Love at second sight

business Updated: Jul 10, 2009 22:15 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times
Love at second sight

For puritans, it’s a horror that Porsche chose to ditch its original DNA of two-door top-of-the-line sportscars like the 911 for make a four-door, four seater sports coupé, the Panamera. Such a shock was felt once before when Porsche’s arch rival Lamborghini unveiled its four door coupé, the Estoque, at the Paris Motor Show last year. But while the Estoque is still a concept, the Panamera is here and is being seen as Porsche’s answer to recession. For us in India, who are starved of any sportscars worth the wheels, anything is good news. News that the Panamera is launching here — along with the rest of the world — in September feels unreal. Porsche gave

Hindustan Times

an exclusive opportunity to drive this car in their homeground in Germany for over 500 kilometers. Here’s what we learnt.

Exteriors: Mix, not match
I must admit, I am a great 911 fan and after testing the car to the limits that Indian roads would allow last year, the obsession has only grown. Naturally then, it was a little difficult for me to love the Panamera at first sight. The car is wider and longer and though it looks every inch a Porsche from the front, it clearly does not have the killer looks of some of the company’s other cars. The Panamera has a very aerodynamic and sporty design, with its wheel arches adding a bit of a muscle and the prominent rear overhang giving the impression it only wants to go further. But overall it fell short of my expectations.

Here’s why. Having embarked on a car which always was a Porsche very unlike a Porsche, the company had a clear chance to do something radical with the design. Instead, this car seemed to me to be a little confused whether to be an in-between copy of the 911 and Carera GT or to be stand on its own. Somehow the rear and front do not come across as very seamless and that gives the car a rather controversial posterior. This car is still a Porsche but I’m afraid it’s not the best looking from the German designers.

Interiors: Luxury cockpit
If the exteriors disappoint, the interiors more than make up for it. The typical low seating coupled with a rich centre console that extends all the way to the rear gives the driver a distinct feel of a cockpit. The gear is surrounded by an array of buttons which give far too many options to the driver. But the real test of the interiors is without doubt the rear seats which is what differentiates this from the other Porsches. Though it can never be as comfy as the front, the rear seat offers decent space and you will never fall short of head or leg room. With only two seats offered at the rear what is perhaps lacking is some flexibility on the seats, which the company though says could be customised.

Performance: Monster
Well, a German carmaker could never go wrong on this one. This Gran Turismo is not meant for the cities nor for the villages and not even for the average highways. This one is purely meant for journeys and the longer it gets the happier the car is. The V8 4.8 litre engine is a monster and especially with the turbo which packs in a mammoth 500 horse power output with a more astounding 700 Nm of torque, this car will never be tested to the hilt in India. With three different suspension modes on offer, it is a car for all purposes and the various exhaust modes only egg you to drive even harder. We managed to hit a top speed of 290 kmph in the Turbo and a more serene 260 kmph on the S and 4S but trust us, this car can go much faster than that. Even at speeds as high as this the car is supremely confident of its footing and you are never scared for your life. Drive it for 10 hours at a stretch and you will still not be tired. Another useful feature is the Adaptive Cruise Control which allows you to just take care of the steering while the car would do the accelerating and braking for you. I believe that is one feature the buyers in India would readily appreciate.

Verdict: Have money? Buy
India is clearly not a mature enough market to fully appreciate a Porsche but we think that the Panamera is one car that would steadily rise in the popularity charts in the country. Priced at a whopping Rs 1.42 crore upwards, Panamera is right at the top of luxury marquees but unlike the 7 series, the package is entirely different. Move over 911, this is one car which would attract the 40 somethings young at heart who love to race around but are fed-up of the same super luxurious sedans. With a Porsche badge to boot, the money would be well spent.