Photos by Porsche
Some people take pleasure in finding the faults in luxury cars. Perhaps it makes them feel better; more objective. Sometimes, however, the OEM just bests you and you can’t find anything to fault. This is how we felt when we tested the 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS. This is the car that speaks to the race car driver that dwells within all of us. It was updated for the 2021 model year and we were delighted to find it the most driver-centric Porsche Panamera made to date.
Built for the Track
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the racetrack credential of this Panamera GTS. The standard powertrain is a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 engine which at 473-hp gets an additional 20-hp on the previous year’s model. It puts out a powerful and pleasing exhaust note, especially as you rev up to the 6800-rpm redline. It evolves into a veritable chorus of awesome racetrack power.
More than just speed and sound, the Panamera is equally constructed for high-speed and competitive driving. The rear features one of the car’s most striking and desirable features, which is the dual-fin retractable spoiler. It was born out of a dispute between Porsche designers who were split between an aesthetic camp that didn’t want any spoiler, and an engineering camp that said it needed one for better dynamics. Both seem to get their way with this unique design. Push the button on the touchscreen display and you can deploy the amazing-looking fin for additional aerodynamism when traveling at speed.
It’s no secret that the 2021 Panamera GTS is heavy — 4,651-lbs to be precise — and along with its 4-door build leads some to believe that a car like the Panamera GTS couldn’t really be so fun to drive. Isn’t it just a really fast limousine with a Porsche badge? Well, if you mean does it have the luxury trim and the comfort levels that a limousine would offer while still driving like a top sports car…then yes, that’s an apt description. But why would that ever be a bad thing?
The Panamera GTS may be larger, but we cannot ignore the fact that with its launch control active, this car can launch from 0 to 60-mph in just 3.2 seconds. Even without launch control, the car can get from 5 to 60-mph in just 4.2 seconds. On top of that, its new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires proved better than the previous generation, reducing the stopping distance from 70-mph by a whole 9 feet to 145 feet.
GTS Exterior Details
While the main shape of the 2021 Panamera GTS hasn’t changed from the first generation, Porsche has demonstrated that even a few small changes here and there make for a terrific and refreshed look. For instance, there were some additions of body-colored bumper parts, and updates to the taillights to make it a solid car-spanning light bar that is more in-line with the rest of the Porsche design portfolio.
Luxurious and Cutting-Edge Interior
The mechanics and the aerodynamics seem to push your Panamera GTS to the racetrack, but the interior delivers on the promise of a Porsche answer to a luxury grand tourer. The 4-door construction allows for two big adults to be seated in the rear seating with two more up front. They can all easily get their luggage into the 17.6 cubic feet of trunk space, which is larger than a lot of executive sedans.
The driver cockpit includes an analog tachometer surrounded by customizable digital display circles. Make the cockpit your own as you sit back in the superbly comfortable sports seats lined with leather and alcantara as you wrap your hands around the soft, irresistible steering wheel. These are the fine touches; the limousine features that make the interior so sumptuous while you still get to drive a fast, aerodynamic, sports car that just lives to gallop.
Rear passengers get their own climate controls, as well as plenty of legroom and all the right acoustics to enjoy the Bose premium sound system. There’ll be no unwelcome thudding either as you or your passengers exit the vehicle to find that your closing is cushioned by wonderful soft-closing door technology.
On the Road: Where the Panamera GTS Really Shines
We’ve talked about how it’s built for the racetrack, but we all know that most of us are buying it for the regular road. Our verdict is that it won’t take you long to realize that the Porsche Panamera GTS just can’t be matched within the wider Panamera range, and maybe even beyond. The AWD system keeps power where it needs to be at all times; a simple push of the gear shift gives you complete control and seamless shifting with paddle shifters; its profile sitting 10mm lower than other Panameras gives it a lower center of gravity for better handling, and the finely tuned air suspension creates a sublime drive quality. Look at this any way that you want. It’s the best Panamera out there, and rivals any Porsche you’d care to mention. A big win for the German sports car giant.