There’s something about a naturally aspirated V8 that does funny things to my soul, my brain, and my right foot. When said powerplant is held beneath the sculpted hood of a Porsche Panamera GTS, everything gets a bit tingly, and all I really want to do is drive; and drive hard.
So I did.
The 2015 Porsche Panamera GTS is, in my humble opinion, the best Pan. No, it’s not the fastest nor is it even the most expensive, but it’s got the most personality, character and bite. The Turbo S is bloody fast, there’s no denying that, but the GTS has serious balls, and that sets it apart. I like that. Different is good.
Track-ready grocery getter
The main difference between the other Panameras in the lineup and the Pan GTS is that while the others can, of course, hit the track any time they like, the Porsche Panamera GTS is specifically bred for the track with different brakes, suspension, and handling thrown in for good measure.
You may think that all that track-ready goodness would make the 2015 Porsche Panamera GTS ungainly and ultimately uncomfortable on everyday roads; well, you’d think wrong. It’s highly livable in all situations, and even has a ride-height air suspension option to jack the car up to save the front lip from being scraped in less than desirable situations that require a bit more ground clearance.
That’s all part of the Panamera GTS’ charm: the fact that it’s a livable vehicle that can be applied to everyday errands just as well as it can track events.
But there’s a catch: Its looks and sound don’t exactly blend in.
Dressed to kill… the quarter mile
Some see the Porsche Panamera as unsightly, piggish, too big, fat even. Personally, I had a hard time with it the first time Porsche announced their four-door sedan. It did look too large, too poof-y. Then I saw it in person, and drove it. Now I see that Porsche’s proportions for the Pan were spot on.
When it comes to the Panamera GTS, the overall exterior look gets a few sporty cues with coloured brake calipers, two-tone exterior bits and pieces: black side vent details, piano-black finish front lip, as well as an all-black wing that unfolds gracefully from the rear when the vehicle hits 95km/h. Quad matte-black exhaust tips finish the Pan’s rear off nicely.
Inside, it features standard Stuttgart fare, with the now-familiar centre stack loaded to the gills with buttons galore (much to my son’s delight). There really are only two buttons that matter though -- I’ll get to those in a moment.
My particular tester featured a two-tone red and black leather interior; the perfect combination with the white exterior paint colour that only added to the Panamera GTS’ sex appeal. While the driver’s seat is undoubtedly the best one, any of the remaining three are just as great with bolstered seats up front and in the rear, with plenty of space and headroom for all.
About that V8
It’s an absolute gem. The 4.8L V8 pumps out 440 horsepower and in SPORT PLUS mode (one of those important buttons!) it will do the 0-100km/h sprint in just 4.4 seconds. Yes, for a car that size it will go that quickly. And it does go quickly. Blissfully so.
And the sound. Oh, the sound. Placing the Panamera-shaped key fob (which can be colour coordinated with your personal Pan, should you so desire) into the lefthand slot and turning to the right to hear the V8 bark madly to life is a turn-on all by itself. Get those revs up a bit, hear the backfire, the snort and snarl of the NA engine and I guarantee your knees will weaken ever so slightly.
Oh, and then there’s the exhaust button (the other important one), which opens up a few extra baffles and lets the engine loose out the rear in a glorious cacophony of V8-inspired aural pleasure -- and one that’s uniquely for the GTS.
Coupled with Porsche’s amazing PDK transmission, the Porsche Panamera GTS is a racecar that can be tamed, almost too easily truth be told. But then that’s the beauty of Porsche products, they can be “tamed” and driven hard without murdering the driver (and really, that’s the goal here, right?).
Driving the Panamera was glorious, and fast. Very fast. The pickup and go in the Pan GTS is shocking at first, but once you get used to the near instant swell of power, it’s nothing short of intoxicating.
Despite all that intoxicating speed and the desire to downshift needlessly as often as possible to hear the exhaust pop and fart, I managed better gas mileage in the GTS than I did in the Cayenne S E-Hybrid I’d had a few weeks prior. I averaged in the low 10L/100km range, and Porsche claims the GTS can go as low as 9.7L/100km. I’d never have the discipline to get it that low …
Character and personality at a price
As mentioned above, this is not the most powerful Panameras in the lineup, however, it is most definitely one of the most expensive with a starting price of $129,400. Truthfully, if you wanted more power and to spend less, you’ll want to stroll on over to Audi and check out the RS 7, but there’s something alluring about the Panamera GTS that the RS 7 lacks, that ballsy, in-your-face badass-ness that the GTS possesses in spades. The Audi’s just too refined -- at least for me.