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Why an early Panamera is a Porsche we should all be shopping for

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Above: 2011 Panamera.

Photos courtesy Porsche

Time flies, and we can think of no better illustration of that observation than the fact that the Panamera is now more than a decade old. Introduced for the 2010 model year, the first-generation Panameras are headed for the bottom of their respective depreciation curves. The fact that the design has aged well inside and out, coupled with the rather conspicuous reliability of the car, has put it squarely in our crosshairs as a Porsche that we should all be shopping for at the moment.


Above: 2010 Panamera Turbo.

As is Porsche’s habit, the high-level cars were introduced first, in this case the V8-powered S and Turbo models, followed by the V6 base models in 2011. But unlike the base E1 Cayenne, from a half-decade earlier, the base Panamera was in no way debasing, hitting 60 miles per hour from a rest in about 5.9 seconds, and feeling remarkably cushy and upmarket inside. Only the somewhat skimpy wheels gave things away.


Above: 2010 Panamera 4S.

Styling of the original car was somewhat controversial when it was introduced. Porsche didn’t want to produce yet another four-door “coupé” with inadequate rear head room for tall people, which included Porsche’s CEO at the time, Wendelin Wiedeking. So, the Panamera’s roofline remained relatively flat, only tapering off to an abbreviated fastback near the very end. The result wasn’t the graceful “shooting brake” style of the second-generation Sport Turismo, but rather a slightly bulbous look that some particularly harsh observers compared to a stretched Chrysler Crossfire.


Above: 2010 Panamera S.

In hindsight, it seemed like yet another instance of gratuitously trolling Porsche for building a car that was otherwise simply just too good. Like the 928 of the 1970s (which this car, it could be argued, belatedly replaced), it has aged well. Younger buyers, who can now afford steeply depreciated Panameras actually quite like the bob-tailed look, just as they don’t mind the headlights of a 996.

With the small uptick in prices of 996s and 986 Boxsters, the 2010 and 2011 Panamera now look like the prime bargains in the Porsche world. The price spread between models is smaller than one might think. 2011 base cars with miles in the 30,000 to 45,000 range can be found in the high-twenties. That money gets you a V8 S or 4S with 60,000 to 75,000 miles. Mid-thirties gets you a lower-mileage V8 car. Only the Turbo remains above Camry money.


Above: 2011 Panamera.

To the extent that the styling of the first-gen Panamera remains controversial in many circles, the interior is virtually impossible to nitpick. Ahead of its time, it pioneered the cabin design language that is still seen today in some modern Porsches. While darker interiors tend to age better than the lighter interiors (some of the soft-touch paint finishes on the plastics are prone to nicking and chipping on things like airbag pad surrounds and switch bezels), they are easy to touch up.


Above: 2011 Panamera.

The driving experience also remains thoroughly modern and satisfying. As always, when Porsche does something with more than two doors, they vow to field the sportiest car in the segment, and the Panamera was no exception. Much edgier than a 7-series or an S-class, a Panamera is also far nimbler and more fun to drive. Combine this with the fact that the Panamera has exhibited few vices or pain points as the miles rack up, and you have the choice of a handsome, fast, sophisticated sporting sedan from a storied marque, or a modestly equipped Kia Optima for the same money. Not that much of this kind of cross-shopping takes place, but as they say, the choice is yours.

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