By Lee Nian Tjoe
There we were at the traffic lights when the engine died.
It was not immediately obvious because of the extensive insulation but once the foot came off the brake pedal, all eight cylinders roared back to life.
Thanks to the optional sports exhaust system on the test-car, the awakening got the attention of the driver in the next lane.
Until the Turbo comes along, the Panamera 4S tested is the flagship of the local Porsche line-up. The "sudden death" described above is part of the limousine's design to conserve fuel. It is the first car with a dual-clutch transmission to boast such a feature.
Not that the claimed 11.1 litres every 100km fuel consumption figure will sway anyone from a Toyota Prius but a millilitre saved is an extra bit to enjoy later, hopefully on a worthwhile strip of road.
The Panamera looks unusual, to say the least. From the front, the association with the iconic 911 is undeniable. It seems that Porsche is not ready to venture too far from familiar grounds.
Although it has four doors as a limousine should, inside at the rear are only two snug sports seats, separated by a wide console that houses the air- conditioning vents and what-not.
Despite its low profile, the car has plenty of space to lounge in.
Comfortable as it is in the back, there is no contesting that the best seat is the driver's. It will be an awful pity if you let a chauffeur have all the fun piloting a 400bhp V8.
There is an essential rightness about the driving experience. Yes, the transmission does a good job slurring shifts at low speed to make urban roads less of an arduous journey, but it is on the faster roads that the Panamera proves why it wears a Porsche crest on its flat bonnet.
Hit the Sport or Sport Plus button and shifts become more aggressive. The V8 complements the mood with its deep- chested growls.
|PORSCHE PANAMERA 4S
|Price: $438,888 with COE ($536,000 as tested)
Engine: 4,806cc 32-valve V8
Power: 400bhp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 3,500-5,000rpm
Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
0-100kmh: 5 seconds
Top speed: 282kmh
Fuel consumption: 11.1 litres/100km (combined)
Agent: Stuttgart Auto
Accurate without being nervous, the Panamera is a confident machine. Having four-wheel drive supposedly improves stability, but the steering is free from any clumsiness that comes with the set-up. Brake feel, a Porsche speciality, is excellent, while the suspension is always pliant.
In all, the Panamera is good for just about everything except reverse parking, where its size and shallow rear windscreen make it that much trickier to back into a lot.
There is supposed to be an option for a reverse camera among a long list of features you can equip a Panamera with.
Alternatively, there is always the valet.
The writer is the editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.
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