Numbers are what the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is all about. Its 4,8-litre biturbo V8 engine delivers a whopping 405 kW and there’s 800 N.m of torque on tap (in overboost mode). Those are big numbers… but there’s more. Top speed is 306 km/h and the 0-100 km/h sprint is done (effortlessly, I may add) in 3,8 seconds. The Panamera Turbo S is not so much knocking on the supercar segment’s door as head-butting it. And to put that in perspective for you… this car weighs two tons. It is just ever so slightly insane.
But there’s another number that you won’t read in most reports, which actually sums up Porsche’s achievement with this car far better for me… 12,9 seconds. That is how long it takes the Panamera Turbo S to reach 200 km/h. And that, people, is ballistic. 12,9 seconds is hugely impressive, especially considering the ease and the comfort that accompanies the rocket-sled performance.
So, what’s different to the already superb Panamera Turbo? Quite a bit, actually. Porsche modified the engine management software as a start, but as important is a significantly revised turbocharger featuring a titanium-aluminium alloy turbine wheel on the hot side that is 50 gm lighter than the one used in the Turbo. This reduces the moment of inertia by 50 per cent, meaning the torque is available faster and responsiveness is improved.
The Turbo S also gets the Sport Chrono Package as standard, so the driver can select the Sport and Sport Plus modes from the facia, and also that excellent launch control system – I struggle to understand why other manufacturers don’t simply copy it.
The Turbo S gets 20-inch 911 Turbo II wheels as standard, as well as PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) and PTV Plus (Porsche Torque Vectoring), the last two items giving this hulk of a machine mind-boggling levels of cornering grip – PTV Plus works by varying the torque distribution to the rear wheels and by employing an electronically regulated rear differential lock, which improves steering behaviour when driven “enthusiastically”.
A small change, but one that has a significant impact on the look of the car are 5 mm spacers fitted at the rear, which make the wheels fill the arches far more purposefully. By the way, those spacers are available as an option on all Panameras, and they do wonders for the awkward looks.
Other small changes include an exclusive new exterior colour (Agate Grey Metallic), a sports exhaust, two-tone leather interior, embossed seats and a longitudinal/lateral g-force display in the instrument cluster.
From behind the wheel the Turbo S doesn’t immediately make a significantly big impression. Press the button with the two exhausts on it and there’s a slightly deeper rumble. And the steering feels surprisingly light when you set off at first.
Start moving faster and the essence of the Turbo S comes to the fore. With everything switched to their “maximum attack” modes, it responds with pure aggression to the twitch of the toe on the throttle pedal. This thing is fast. There are a few other numbers I haven’t mentioned yet. For example, 80 to 120 km/h takes just 2,6 seconds. And to double your speed from 100 km/h to 200 km/h only 9,1 seconds… It is an autobahn destroyer… if only the autobahn wasn’t as clogged up with trucks as it is.
As with all Panameras, the ability to change in character from limousine to racing car is quite startling. The ride air-suspended ride is probably better than some traditional luxury cars, even with the big wheels and sports suspension, but it does loose perhaps a bit too much suppleness when you firm it up for the twisties. I’ve mentioned the grip levels before, and it’s this talent that allows the Panamera Turbo S to make mincemeat of a challenging stretch of road. The only real concerns are the car’s size – it is very wide, and the challenging roads in Germany are typically quite narrow, lined by short, sturdy-looking white poles and frequented by certifiable Fiat Panda drivers with large moustaches – and its weight (it grips, but this doesn’t mean it feels particularly agile). This brings me to the topic of brakes. The Panamera S Turbo’s anchors are immense (390 mm in front, 350 mm at the rear), but one of the few things that you pay extra for are the ceramic brakes.
Here’s another big number for you – R2 110 000. That’s how much you’ll have to fork out to drive what is arguably the “Super Trump” of the sports/thunder/performance saloon segment. Is it worth it? Well, at R1 774 000 the Panamera Turbo looks like great value, considering we got 3,91 seconds in the benchmark 0-100 km/h sprint when we road tested it in February 2010. But as with the sublime 911 Turbo S, I think it comes down to the fact that some customers simply want the ultimate, whatever the cost. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S certainly is that.