Dr Strange Panamera or: How I learned to stop worrying and like odd Porsches
I’m a Porsche purist. I think only true Porsches are supposed to have a huge rear weight bias that causes an almost dangerous amount oversteer. It should take a skilled hand to drive one and carry maximum of two people in relative comfort. Because of these convictions, I’ve been unjustly harsh to the Panamera in the past.
Porsche has a tradition of building magnificently engineered sports cars. So when I see resources taken away from cars like the 911 to build a sedan, I get a little scared. I know the 911 will still get all the attention it needs, but in the back of my mind, I fear Porsche will want to spend time with its new kid and forget about the oldest son still living at home.
Now that we’ve seen leaked final photos of Porsche’s sedan, I’m slightly less worried. Where BMW has the tradition of building cars that are wolves in sheep’s clothing, Porsche has a tradition of making wolves in wolf’s clothing. Although this car carries a similar hoodline to the Nissan 370Z and the body takes the shape of a Citroen C6, the car is distinctly Porsche.
Although the Panamera may have a few odd proportions, Porsche learned a long time ago that all cars should look a little like the 911. The 928 was originally supposed to phase-out the 911. But the purists, like me, had a tough time accepting a V8 engine mounted in the front of a car that looked like a big Tylenol (Porsche purists prefer cars that look like upside-down bathtubs.) The 928 was a great car, but it was never a great seller. While the 911 continued to be a customer favorite, its would-be killer was eventually dropped from the lineup. Porsche learned its lesson. All new Porsches designed since the 928 have carried some resemblance to the 911 so Porsche could utilize that heritage (the first generation 924/944/968 was built a year before the 928.)
I may continue to be hard on the Panamera, but deep down inside, I still know it’s a Porsche. No matter what, it will be a blast to drive. There may even be something to the idea of a Porsche that can actually make an airport run. Still, I may just not yet be ready to make the full leap of faith.
The truth is the non-traditional Porsches (i.e. family cars) like the Panamera or the Cayenne are good cars. I’m hard on the Cayenne not because it’s a powerful tall wagon, but because its bought by soccer moms and dads who don’t know what to do with a powerful tall wagon. That’s why I’ve been tough on the Panamera. It will be bought by people who will fill the back bench with child seats. The car will be purchased just for the Porsche image and not because it is a capable sports sedan.
For me, I know that heaven is a 1968 911 S Targa. But I also know with Porsche, just like the real heaven, I don’t get to choose the select few who enter. It’s not Porsche’s fault the Panamera will be bought self-important idiots who think a clutch is a type of handbag. So while my not-so-evil nature will likely get me a ticket through the pearly gates, it upsets me to know there will also be plenty of image-only Panamera drivers waiting there too.