Review: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS – Sliced Bread Meet the GTS

 

The 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS is the greatest thing with four doors you’ll ever aspire to own. It’s not as fast as a Turbo or Turbo S, but it’s plenty fast in the real world.

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When Porsche set about making the best sport sedan money could buy, people looked around awkwardly. The immediate thought was, “What would a 911 look like with four doors?” And, “Why in God’s name would they make a sedan? Isn’t the Cayenne travesty enough?!”

Say what you will about the Cayenne, but it’s been a success greater than NASA’s first trip to the moon. It’s made Porsche ridiculous amounts of money, and they’re able to fund cooler cars because of it.

So why a sedan, and why now, about 30 years –give or take- too late? Well, simple: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati were all having too much fun on the merry-go-round, and Porsche were the odd kid out. You know, that one kid with glasses and the retainer whose mom used to lecture him on the dangers of all those wild physical antics the other crazy kids used to do. Pesky kids!

So out pops the Panamera. “It’s a boy!” we all heard as Porsche engineers popped cigars in their mouths to celebrate another engineering feat. Soon after debuting, the car was already far in front of the other Porsches, and only second to the Cayenne. And it’s always been a good car from day one. With four doors, it may not be a sedan version of the 911, but it certainly does some really good tricks.

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Now there’s the Panamera GTS (Gran Turismo Sport), an exclusive taste of super stardom without the bad aftertaste. For a period of time, albeit short, you’ve been able to get the Panamera pretty much any way you wanted it. In America alone we have a V-6 and a V-8 in rear or all-wheel drive, a Turbo, a Turbo S (50 extra horsepower), and now a hybrid. However, the jump from the V8 Panamera 4S (the most expensive of the non-super car Pannys at $96,350) to the Panamera Turbo was some $42,300 base price to base price. To put that into perspective, that’s the MSRP of a brand new BMW 335i sedan. The GTS has a base price of $111,000. See how that slots right down the middle of the two?

So what’s the GTS got that makes it so special when compared against sliced bread? A retuned 4.8-liter V-8 making 430 hp and 384 lb-ft. of torque, which is 30 extra ponies and 15 more torques than the Panamera S/4S. Now that’s hardly anything when compared to the Panamera Turbo’s 500 hp and 516 lb.-ft. (568 lb-ft. with optional Sport Chrono Turbo Package), but that’s not really giving you an accurate picture to view the GTS in its proper light. The advanced, sports car-like all-wheel drive system, brakes, chassis, suspension, interior and PDK dual-clutch gearbox are all straight from the $138,650 Turbo model. The GTS is basically a Turbo without the motor, but with a beautiful Carmine Red stitched leather and alcantara interior meant only for it, as well as “GTS” embroidered into the headrests, with red seat belts.

Helping in the horsepower department, Porsche have added two air induction systems on either side of the lower front grilles that control air flow into the air intakes. At 3500 RPM a little flap opens on each side to allow more air in at once, and the faster you go, the more air passing through the airbox and giving you more power.

There were plenty of features on our GTS test car, but there are some notable things that, after driving this car, I’d say would have to be on mine regardless of price: such as the $5,000 PDCC with PTV Plus. That stands for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, which means nothing to you, right? Those two options alone are important because they help the balance of the car in both quick and slow corners. Say you’re flying around a race track at full bore, and you come up on an ‘S’ turn (it looks just like the letter) and you are going hard into each corner at around 60-70 mph. PDCC effectively stops the car from pitching and rolling with the aid of front and rear anti-roll bars; this way you’re staying flat through the corners allowing the car to put the power down better and literally stick as you’re coming out of the. PTV Plus helps you with the limited-slip differential, by actively regulating the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels, which helps the car rotate going in and coming out of corners. This helped me on a very wet road when it was dark and I didn’t see the right turn I needed to make… yeah, that’s what happened. So I slammed on the brakes, threw the steering wheel to the right, and came out of the corner sideways with total control and proper power at the wheels. Is all that worth the 5 grand when you’ll probably never take the Panamera GTS to the race track? Yes, because it works in plenty of everyday situations, especially in wet and snowy weather. It helps you maintain complete control in any style of driving with the superb all-wheel drive system working with it.

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To work in congress with PDCC and PTV Plus is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with Sport Chrono Plus package –both standard. The Panamera GTS already sits 10mm lower than any of its brethren, and with Sport Plus selected on the shifting console, you’ll lower the ride an extra 15mm and hear a wonderful burble coming from the exhaust as the PDK automatically shifts down a gear. All you really need to know about PASM and Sport Chrono Plus are that they work together to help performance in every aspect, especially the stability of the car with its lower ride height. You can also raise the air suspension by 30mm so as not to scrape the nose on bad roads, car garage ramps, speed bumps, etc.

Another piece of equipment I’d have to have is the $5,890 Burmester surround system (said like Burr-meister). My Lord, I thought I was at Madison Square Garden listening to Eric Clapton play just for me. It’s a dream to hear, seriously. It’s not music to your ears; it’s more of an emotion in your ears that you feel.

But with all of this talk of what each thing means and does, how’s the car actually drive? Beyond beautifully. In fact, it’s so close to perfection that you’ll be wondering why you didn’t buy one sooner. Getting in and starting the GTS up is already an event, what with that loud, but never obnoxious, sport exhaust system that clears its throat like Pavarotti. I still call Sport Plus “rocket ship mode”, because pushing the button and seeing the Sport Plus light come on the steering wheel and then slamming the go pedal ensures the greatest spectacle for anyone outside or inside the car. Your heart pumps as the revs climb and the dual-clutch gearbox literally bangs through the gears like you’re building up steam so the wings and flaps can lift you up into the sky. Only, uh, there are no wings or flaps, so you must control the wheel on back roads. And be prepared, I tell you, because 60 mph comes and goes in less than 4.3 seconds; and you’ll be through 100 mph in around 11 seconds. Oh, and don’t forget to pay attention to the beautiful Turbo-style rear wing pop out at about 55 mph and expand to control the air flow over the rear hatchback, as well as rear-end stability at high speeds.

Gas mileage in the GTS isn’t going to kill your credit card, because at an EPA rated 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, it’s not terrible for a 26 gallon fuel tank vehicle weighing 4300 lbs. I alone achieved between 450-500 miles to a tank, depending on my driving style.

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Porsche Doppelkupplung, or PDK as we know it, is the phenomenal dual-clutch gearbox that Porsche have honed over the last 30 years in racing, and now on the street. It’s a 7-speed double-clutch system that allows one clutch to hold gears 1, 3, 5 and 7, while the second clutch holds 2, 4, 6 and reverse. The job of a dual-clutch automatic is to provide faster shifts up and down the gearbox. Basically, when you’re in first the other clutch is already pre-loading second gear for you so that the car loses no speed or time when going from gear to gear. You can have the luxury and comfort of a fully automatic gearbox still, but in manual, Sport or Sport Plus modes, the shifts are accurate and wicked fast. PDK is one of the quickest and most efficient dual-clutch ‘boxes in the world.

I must say that I believe the GTS would be better still with a traditional manual gearbox. Some would say I’m nuts, but I’m right in this case.

One of the greatest bits about the GTS, though, is its brakes. Yes, the Panamera Turbo’s 15.4 inch slotted and vented rotors with 6-piston calipers (front) and 13.8 inch slotted and vented rotors with 4-piston calipers (rear) are fantastic. Need to shave off speed on the highway? No problem whatsoever. How about when you’re hauling down a back road having a bit of fun, and you realize the speed you’re doing will mean a hefty ticket? Not even close to a problem. Just touch that rectangular pedal and you’ll haul from 60 mph to 0 in about 110 feet or fewer.

While the breaks are great, by far the most amazing and greatest part of the Panamera GTS is the Sound Symposer. Yeah, I had no idea what the hell that meant, either, until I researched it real quick. The GTS allows a lot of engine and exhaust noise inside the car when you’ve hit the Sport or Sport Plus buttons. First, before I explain what Porsche did, let me tell you how BMW did this sort of thing in the new M5. To allow you and your passengers to hear more of the glory being sung from the motor and exhaust, there’s a computer system that mimics the sound for you through the car’s stereo speakers. So yeah, it’s not real. It sounds cool, yes. but it’s fake. Porsche have done a one-up on the M boys by, well, hell listen to Porsche talk this one up:

This is done by an acoustic channel picking up the intake vibrations between the throttle valve and air filter. The acoustic channel incorporates a membrane that transmits the vibrations as an engine sound into the A-pillar. A controllable valve located in front of the membrane enables the Sound Symposer to be activated or deactivated by means of the Sport button.

It helps to provide one of the most intoxicating sounds this side of Eric Clapton playing acoustic blues all alone.

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For passengers, whether front or rear, the Panamera GTS offers up private plane-like luxury. With the four-zone climate control ($1,020), as well as heated front and rear seats ($545), everyone will be perfectly comfortable on any drive. Speaking of those seats, the fronts are 8-way adjustable adaptive sport seats ($1835), and 4-way in the rear. The right rear passenger also has the ability to move the front right passenger’s seat up, down, forward, and back. Why? For the executive in the back seat. You see, many of these cars, mainly overseas, are used to chauffeur special people who enjoy riding in a car with massive performance. In America, luckily, we’re more interested in feeling that fun from behind the wheel. But it’s nice to know you can relax in the back when you want.

At full song, the exhaust system plays a loud thunderous version of “Nessun dorma” (translation: None shall sleep) as you roll down the road with the authority any person deserves having made a great success of themselves. Smiles are guaranteed, but childlike chuckles are a treat, mostly from you behind the wheel.

So what does all of this fantastic-ness borrow from your wallet to buy? $147,345 is what our test car would have set us back. Whoa, I know… but you get quite a bit of kit for that price. Including the various chassis, suspension and audio options I listed above, the Panamera GTS also had a few things you could live without. The GT Silver metallic paint is a $3,140 option by itself, but it looked great. Honestly, the best looking silver I’ve ever seen, and I hate silver cars. But, I would have been just fine with a zero cost black. And for $3,375 our GTS had the “exclusive” 20-inch Panamera Sport wheels in black, which were nice, but some less expensive wheels, or the standard ones, would have been just fine. Oh, and the car key is a bit ridiculous… because it costs $335 if you’d like to have it painted silver. Yeah, I don’t mind the standard black plastic.

With that said, the whole time I drove the Panamera GTS I kept trying to knock the value of it. You see, as a car tester, one of my jobs is to dissect the cars inside and out to see if everything is really worth the price the car company wants from you. So is the Panamera GTS worth nearly 150 grand? In all honesty, yes. It really is the first premium car I’ve tested where I couldn’t find one cheap thing about it.

There’s just nothing that the Panamera GTS does badly. It’s very, very comfortable, handles as good as a 911, and is fast, holding 4 full size adults (the back seat will handle a 6-ft+ tall person) and their luggage. With the hatchback instead of a usual trunk, the Panamera will hold pretty much anything, including a large dog with the rear seats folded down. So you kind of have an SUV that’s a super sedan. There ya go, it’s all purpose, how about that?

So, if you have the means, I highly recommend it. I wouldn’t go cross shopping a BMW, Audi, Bentley, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, or anything of the sort, because the Porsche Panamera GTS is the closest thing to perfect this side of a good ol’ pig-pickin’.

Watch our video review of the 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS:
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[Photos by Fernando Cruz of FCX Photography]

[Photos by Josh Lewis]

2013 Panamera GTS

MSRP – $111,000

Destination fee – $975

Price as-tested – $147,345

As-tested options:
GT Silver metallic paint – $3140
GTS interior package Carmine Red – $3450
Heated seats front/rear – $525
Adaptive Cruise Control – $2490
Lane change assist/blind spot detection – $850
Four-zone climate control – $1020
Porsche entry & drive (keyless start) – $1090
Power steering plus – $270
Burmester surround sound – $5690
HD radio with SiriusXM satellite – $1120
PDCC with PTV Plus – $5000
8-way sport adaptive power seats – $1835
Sport design steering wheel – $290
Electric rollup rear shade – $340
Soundproof & insulated glass – $1240
Luggage compartment retractable cover – $150

Porsche Exclusive Options:
Air intake grilles in black – $1120
LED extended interior lighting – $1020
PDK gear selector in alcantara – $865
Painted car key – $335
20” Panamera Sport wheels in black – $3375

Engine

4.8-liter V8

430 hp @ 6700 rpm

Torque: 384 lb.-ft. @ 3500 rpm

Active all wheel drive

Brakes

6-piston fixed aluminum monobloc calipers in front, internally vented and grooved brake discs

4-piston fixed aluminum monobloc calipers in the rear, internally vented and grooved brake discs

Brake disc diameter 390 mm front, 350 mm rear

Red brake calipers

Pad-wear sensors all round

Electric parking brake

Anti-lock braking system (ABS as part of PSM)

Tires

Standard – 19-inch Panamera Turbo light alloy wheels with 255/45 R 19 tires in the front, 19-inch Panamera Turbo light alloy wheels with 285/40 R 19 tires in the rear

Equipped – 20-inch Panamera Sport wheels in black with 255/40 ZR 20 tires front and 295/35 ZR 20 tires rear.

Standard Equipment Features

Body

SportDesign front fascia and air intakes

Slide/tilt moonroof

Fully galvanized lightweight bodyshell in steel / aluminum hybrid design

Hood, doors and fenders made of aluminum

4 doors with integral side-impact protection

Variable door stop

Top-hinged tailgate made of aluminum

Side skirts in matte black

Air outlets in fenders behind front wheels, black grained

Black finned diffuser intergrated in rear fascia

Side window trim in high-gloss black

Trim strip on rear tailgate in high-gloss black

Porsche logotype and model designation on tailgate in chrome look

Adaptive rear spoiler (4-way)

Tinted heat-insulating glass all-round with grey top tint on windshield

Water-repellent coating on front windows

Front and rear wheelhouse spoilers

26.4 gallon fuel tank

Full underbody paneling

Chassis

Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)

Tire sealing compound and electric air compressor

Power steering with variable steering ratio

Aluminum double-wishbone front axle

Aluminum multilink rear axle

Adaptive air suspension with leveling system and ride height adjustment

Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), electronically controlled damper system with three manually activated maps

Porsche Stability Management (PSM) with ABS, engine drag torque control (MSR), brake assistant

Climate Control Systems

Automatic climate control with separate temperature adjustment and air distribution for driver and front passenger, automatic air recirculation with air quality sensor

Particle/pollen filter with activated charcoal canister

Electrical Systems

Multi-function steering wheel

Porsche Communication Management (PCM) incl. hard-drive based navigation module with 3D navigation map, high-resolution 7-inch -WVGA (Wide Video Graphics Array) TFT color display.

Integrated antenna system for audio and navigation

Power windows (front and rear), with one-touch operation, anti-trap protection and door lock open/close facility

Power door locks incl. radio remote control (car-shaped vehicle key)

Automatic tailgate

Front wiper system with 2 wiper speeds, intermittent wipe with rain sensor and heated washer nozzles

Rear window defroster with auto-off function

Electrically adjustable and heated outside rear view mirrors with power folding function

Automatically dimming outside and inside rear view mirrors

ParkAssist (rear) with acoustic warning signal

Trip computer

Cruise control

Dual-tone horn, additional single-tone horn for vehicle theft alarm system

Overhead console with interior lights and LED reading light, warning lamp for the deactivation of passenger airbag, controls for ParkAssist system, power tilt/slide moonroof and Homelink® operation

Battery capacity: 95 Ah

4 socket outlets (12 Volt), in front and rear center console, glove compartment and luggage compartment

Universal audio interface (Aux-In, USB, iPod)

Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connection

Engine features

Integrated dry-sump lubrication with two-stage oil pumping

Returnless fuel system

Hydraulic valve adjustment

EMS SDI 6.1 engine management system

On-board diagnostics for monitoring emission control system

Stereo Lambda control circuits

Electronic throttle

Vehicle electrical system recuperation

Dual ram-air intakes

Auto Start Stop function

Sport Chrono Package

Sport Exhaust with exhaust tips in black

Aluminum engine block and cylinder heads

Direct fuel injection (DFI)

VarioCam Plus

Cylinder specific knock control

Instruments

5 round instruments pods with silver bezels, four black dials and one central silver tachometer dial with GTS logo

Instrument cluster with high-resolution 4.8-inch TFT color display, gear indicator, service interval indicator, ambient temperature display and various warning indicators, white illumination

Interior

Embroidered “GTS” lettering on front and rear headrests

Engine immobilizer (transponder system), safe system, vehicle theft alarm system with ultrasonic interior monitoring

Seat heaters (front)

SportDesign steering wheel with paddle shifting electric fore/aft and height adjustment

Rooflining in Alcantara, including A and B pillars and sun visors

Driver Memory Package

4 individual seats with continuous center console and folding armrest in the rear

Adaptive Sport Seats with memory package, center seat inserts in Alcantara®; 18-way adjustable.

Front center console armrest with integrated storage compartment

Rear seating system with folding center armrest and asymmetric split folding backrests (60% / 40%)

Leather interior in standard color, smooth-finish leather incl. features in Alcantara on front and rear seat centers, front and rear door panel armrests and front center console

Door entry guards in brushed aluminum, with “Panamera GTS” on front door sills

Interior package black (high-gloss)

Trim strips, silver colored

Floor mats

Lighting Systems

Bi-Xenon headlights with automatic leveling, headlight washers, Halogen auxiliary main-beam headlights and Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) which includes static and dynamic cornering light adjustment, speed senstive headlight range control, and fog lights. Encased in black.

Separate front end auxiliary lights with LED position lights and turn signals

Daytime running lights with four spotlights in the front end auxiliary lights

Auto on/off headlights

LED rear lights incl. rear fog light

Backup lights

Third brake light in LED technology, integrated into tailgate

“Welcome home” lighting via daytime running lights (programmable illumination time)

Interior lighting: delayed-off function, door opener illumination, front center console storage compartment, front door storage compartments, ignition switch illumination, reading spots and front interior lighting, rear left and right reading lights, front and rear orientation lights, front footwell illumination, illuminated vanity mirrors for driver and passenger, front and rear door entry lights, engine and luggage compartment illumination, ashtray illumination, glove compartment illumination, door safety lights, red/white front and rear and in tailgate

Luggage compartment

Large lockable and cooled glove compartment with storage in front and rear doors, under front and rear center console armrests, rear center console, beneath loadspace floor

Stowage nets in luggage compartment side panels and front and passenger footwells

Storage pockets in back of front seats

Luggage compartment volume: 15.7 cu.-ft., with rear seats folded: 44.6 cu.-ft. luggage space capacity

Performance and Transmission

Top Track Speed: 178 mph

0-60 mph: 4.3 sec (Porsche tested)

Porsche Doppelkupplung dual-clutch transmission (PDK), 7-speed, with manual actuation and automatic mode, gear recommendation for optimized fuel economy in manual mode

Porsche Traction Management (PTM): active all-wheel drive with electronic and map-controlled multi-plate clutch, automatic brake differential (ABD) and antislip regulation (ASR)

Safety and Security

ParkAssist at rear with acoustic proximity warning

Rear side airbags

Side impact protection in the doors

3-point automatic seatbelts with pretensioner

Manual belt height adjustment for driver and front passenger

Dual front Advanced Airbags

Knee airbags for driver and front passenger

Double-chamber side airbags integrated into front seats, optimized for hip and chest area

Curtain airbags covering roof frame and all side windows from A to C pillar (left and right)

Rollover detection system enabling early deployment of curtain airbags and seat belt pretensioners in case of rollover

LATCH anchor points for child seat attachment on rear seats

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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