The Porsche Panamera
Porsche recently released an upgraded “S” variant of their Panamera Turbo 4-door super sedan, and I don’t even care.
I have yet to find an angle, in pictures or in person, where the car looks even remotely acceptable. I find it hard to believe it was signed off on by all the responsible parties, since if you know Porsche’s car development philosophy, you know they rarely introduce new models, and those they do the company is completely committed to. So they knew the shape would be with them for a while; it wasn’t a case of “Oh, let’s try this; if people don’t dig it we’ll reel it back in a few years later.” And they can’t defend it, as BMW did with their Chris Bangle creations of the past 10 years, on the grounds that it’s an avant garde, envelope-pushing design; no, the details of the styling are resolutely conventional. It’s not a coherent yet unique vision of a 4-door Porsche like a Bangle take on the concept might be; the Panamera is really nothing more than a 911 stretched in odd places to accommodate two extra doors on its haunches. End of story.
That said, the car’s dynamic prowess and performance chops were a foregone conclusion—its manufacturer knows how to build an Autobahn dominator like no one else. With the Panamera Turbo S, the 0-60 drops to a truly epic 3.4 seconds, and the braking and roadholding are standard Porsche issue. But again, none of this really matters to me or, I’d wager, many of the car’s would-be buyers. If I’m going to fork over almost $200 grand for a car, I don’t want to have to apologize for my purchase by changing the subject to its performance every time its looks are brought up in conversation. I’m not saying the car has to be a complete stunner (though some are), but it should exceed a certain “threshold of appeal.” Sadly, the Panamera misses the mark.