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Model Guide: 2010-2016 Porsche Panamera

Monday, April 23, 2018

Article by Peter Smith and Damon Lowney
Photos courtesy Porsche

Above: 2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Porsche had long considered adding a four-door to its lineup and even created the Type 989 sedan concept in the late '80s. Yet the automaker would not produce its first series production sedan, the Panamera, until nearly two decades later.

Above: The Porsche 989 concept. Screenshot: Porsche via YouTube

The Panamera came about because Porsche's foray into the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) market with the Cayenne was a huge success and it thought a sedan would fit in with its existing model lineup.

Above: 2010 Porsche Panamera S.

The first Type 970s, as the Panamera was referred to internally, showed up for model year 2010 in three variations: S, 4S, and Turbo. All three had a 4.8-liter V8, a 400-horsepower naturally aspirated unit for the S and 4S, and a turbocharged mill with 500 hp for the Turbo. Though the Panamera S was available with both manual and double-clutch PDK automatic transmissions overseas, North American customers were only offered the admittedly excellent seven-speed PDK. When equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package, the rear-wheel-drive Panamera S did zero to 62 miles per hour (100 km/h) in as little as 5.2 seconds. With Sport Chrono, the 4S and Turbo, both all-wheel-drive, did the acceleration run in 4.8 and 4.0 seconds, respectively.

Above: 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S.

No base car, you noticed? Porsche stuck to its relatively new practice of launching mid- and top-level model variants followed by the base model later on. The Panamera and Panamera 4 were introduced for 2011 and equipped with a new 300-hp 3.6-liter V6 — basically the V8 with two cylinders cut off. Though not nearly as quick as the other Panameras, when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package it would do zero to 62 mph in 6.1 seconds. Besides the model script, the easiest way to tell which engine a Panamera had at the time was by the color of the brake calipers:  black was the base V6, silver was the S V8, and red was the Turbo V8.  

Above: 2011 Porsche Panamera 4.

In 2012, the Panamera S Hybrid was introduced with a 333-hp 3.0-liter supercharged Audi V6 mated to a hybrid drive system, which was comprised of a 47-hp electric motor mounted between the engine and transmission, and a separating clutch, which connected and disconnected the motor from the engine and allowed full electric operation, assistance to the gas engine, or engine power only. Combined output was 380 hp. The battery was a non-plug-in nickel-metal hydride type. The S Hybrid was available with rear-wheel drive only, and in place of the PDK in the other model variants resides an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

Above: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.

As if the Panamera needed more than 500 hp in Turbo guise, Porsche released the Turbo S with 550 hp for 2012. The power was increased with a modified ECU and upgraded turbochargers.

Above: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S.

In 2013 the GTS was introduced with most of the equipment standard on the Panamera Turbo, but without the turbochargers. Instead, it made do with the S V8, modified to make 430 hp. To allow the driver and passengers to hear the burly exhaust note better, Porsche implemented its new Sound Symposium system, which used special chambers connected to the engine air intake to pipe sound into the cabin. Of course, with more power and an emphasis on handling, some of the notable equipment borrowed from the Turbo included better brakes, air suspension with active shocks, all-wheel-drive, and more.

In addition to the GTS, Porsche launched the Panamera Edition for 2013, giving base cars design cues and standard equipment from the Turbo.

Above: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS.

The Panamera received a fairly substantial mid-cycle update for 2014. The S lost its V8, which was replaced by a new, more efficient twin-turbo V6 that produced 420 hp. Porsche added long-wheelbase Executive trims to the Turbo and Turbo S, a move that was spurred in large part by the growing Chinese market. The base car’s engine got a boost from 300 to 310 hp, while the Turbo and Turbo S now made 520 hp and 570 hp, respectively. The hybrid Panamera became the S E-Hybrid and gained plug-in capability, a new lithium-ion battery, and better performance from a 95-hp electric motor. The more powerful motor allowed drivers to stay in electric-only mode up to 84 miles per hour — much faster than the S Hybrid. The Audi-sourced supercharged V6 remained unchanged with 333 hp. Combined output was 416 hp. And finally, a much appreciated — though arguably insignificant — styling update quelled some of the criticism aimed at the sedan’s design.

Above: 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in. 2014 was the first model year of the mid-cycle update.

Aside from the extremely rare (and expensive) Panamera Exclusive series and the Edition series, the sedan continued on mostly unchanged through model year 2016. The second generation Panamera was launched for 2017.

Above: 2014 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive, which has a lengthened wheelbase.

Things to look out for

  • The V6 and V8 upper coolant pipes (in the “V”) were glued in. The glue can break apart and the pipes pop out, creating a serious coolant leak and putting the vehicle out of commission. The coolant pipe housing is about $300 and 5 hours to install.
  • Brake wear is dependent on how you drive. Two sets of front pads should last the life of one set of front rotors. Three sets for the rears, but that depends on how you drive...
  • Both the V6 and V8 have camshaft adjuster assembly bolts that were aluminum and the heads would pop off. If this happens, the drive for one camshaft (sometimes both) will stop rotating and kill that side of the engine. Porsche has initiated recalls to remedy that issue. If you purchase a Panamera, call your nearest dealer and have them check for open campaigns.
  • High-pressure fuel pumps fail at a low rate but are expensive to change. A factory-rebuilt unit is around $1,100 and about 2.5 hours to change.
  • Front upper control arm bushings can fail, causing a clunk when driving over bumps. Change both sides at once. They’re about $400 each and take 5 hours to change.
  • Now the fun part: the air suspension. Pumps fail, struts fail and leak — just bring a wheelbarrow of money to fix them. The labor time needed to diagnose and refill the system varies quite a bit. The compressor starts at $1,200, struts are $1,600 each, and then one must factor in the time it takes to replace the parts.  The air suspension is great when it works, but if repairing it is not in your budget, I would pass if possible. Keep in mind that the Turbo, Turbo S, and GTS were only offered with air suspension.
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