This is a story about a button. Not just any button mind you, but one that has the ability to transform things, like my opinion, and the driving characteristics of the 2014 Panamera 4S. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. You see, at first drive, I was underwhelmed with the changes made to the new Panamera 4S. The new engine, a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6, which replaced the outgoing 4.8 liter V8, gives the Panamera a whole new feel and sound. A feel I didn't particularly care for. It was the sound, though, that changed most for me. If there is one thing I’ve always loved about the Panamera, it’s the sound of that raucous V8 noise. With the new V6, it seemed that sound was gone. Also missing was that linear power delivery of the V8 engine. It its place I found a more elastic powerband that features a slight delay on initial tip in. Or so I thought.
Combine these early observations with the fact that I didn’t particularly like the way the PDK shifted, the shift points and rev limits seemed muted and came far too early, and we weren't off to a good start. Apparently this new shift feel is owed to the new “virtual intermediate gears”, something Porsche says was done to improve consumer reactions. For certain, the Panamera is comfortable, but it doesn't seem suited for touring speeds in the switchback hills that lay ahead of me. The steering seemed overweight and there's a bit too much body roll for my tastes.
One Button Changes Everything
Then came the button. One little button next to the PDK shifter on the center console changed the entire feel of the car, and my opinion. The Panamera was brought to life in the efficient Germanic click of that button. The shift points raised and RPMs surged. The e-throttle response quickened and sharpened. The barely noticeable exhaust note became a near rapturous crescendo. The suspension stiffened, but not beyond the point of comfort. The PDK shifts slammed home like the transmission I'm used to. This little magic button changed everything. Can you guess what this button is? It's labeled “Sport+” and it transformed my Panamera driving experience. For anyone who has doubted how much the Panamera deserves a Porsche crest, simply press this button, and your perceptions will be forever changed.
The brand new V6 engine, while underwhelming before, absolutely delivers now. With 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, the smaller twin-turbocharged engine is more powerful than the V8 that it replaces, and manages to deliver an 18% reduction in fuel consumption over the old model. Through the employ of direct injection, start/stop engine deactivation, and excellent gear ratio choices, the Panamera 4S is capable of fuel economy above that of its competitors. My lead foot and the desire to hear the turbos spool conspired to provide me with much lower economy for my day in the driver’s seat, and it proved addictive enough that I’m not sure I could achieve much better numbers in day to day driving.
The Panamera I drove was painted in the most gorgeous shade of Chestnut Brown Metallic. I’ve always been a fan of brown Porsches, and this one simply raised the bar to an all new level. With the exterior trim pieces done up in high gloss black, and a black set of 20” Sport wheels, the brown looked just a little bit better than I imagine it would with chrome trim and aluminum wheels.
The Porsche I drove was, admittedly, decked out with a full bevvy of options; more than $35,000 above and beyond the $98,300 starting MSRP. While some of these options were a bit superfluous, there are a handful of quite pricey ones that I would not want to live without. The Sport package (gives you that all important Sport+ button), the Panamera Sport wheels, and the adaptive air suspension being chief among the options that made this Panamera awesome.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera GTS Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive Review
Read our 2014 Porsche Panamera S Review