Panamera Turbo S raises questions over Porsche’s mojo..

As sure as night follows day, Porsche has produced an even more powerful Panamera Turbo, called rather predictably… the Panamera Turbo S. Don’t get me wrong, predictable is not the same as boring – how could 0 – 62 mph in 3.8 seconds plus a top speed of 191 mph ever lose its appeal? – But we saw this new model coming from a mile away and that unfortunately is part of the problem.

Many years ago Porsche used to be a brand that surprised and delighted, the 1977 928 sports GT broke the mould, becoming the only sports car to win the prestigious European Car of the Year award in 1978. The 1996 Boxster, although plagued with slightly derivative 911 looks was (a) eagerly anticipated and (b) a model without any obvious peers.

It’s good to know Porsche’s mojo continues to reside deep within the loins of its Stuttgart HQ – the 918 Spyder revealed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show left the motoring world temporarily speechless, although it would have been far better had Porsche chosen to position it in direct competition with the £200,000 McLaren MP4-12C and Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 rather than at the stratospherically out-of-reach £700,000 that it announced last week.

So what’s our issue with the Panamera Turbo S? Perhaps it’s the clinical way in which Porsche describe their new model (a unique combination of performance and efficiency, driving dynamics and comfort), or the rather manipulative badge engineering that sees the existing Panamera Turbo de-throned and consigned to runner-up position.

Or perhaps, it’s BMW’s forthcoming M5.

You see, the 542bhp (550hp) wielded by the Panamera Turbo S isn’t so special these days – Audi were running with 572bhp in their RS6 more than 2 years ago, the Mercedes E63 AMG puts out 518bhp these days and its no secret that BMW’s F10-based M5 will offer circa 550bhp as standard. But the final knockout punch will be the price – Porsche require you to exchange £122,623.00 incl. VAT for the new Panamera Turbo S, whereas BMW’s M5 is likely to be priced nearer to £80,000 when it goes on sale in the Autumn of 2011.

That’s a big difference between two cars, which to most people, will achieve broadly the same outcome.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S – the details

If you’ve made it this far, then the chances are you’d like to hear about some of the differences between Turbo S and the standard Panamera Turbo.

As already mentioned, the 4.8-litre V8 biturbo engine delivers 542 bhp, ten percent or 50 bhp more than the the Panamera Turbo. By the same token, the torque also increases from 516 lb-ft to 553 lb-ft (700 to 750 Nm), whilst in the ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ mode of the standard Sport Chrono Package Turbo and during kick-down in normal mode, the Turbo S delivers a full 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) in the so-called overboost function.

The increased power of the Turbo S can be attributed to two main enhancements; improved turbochargers with titanium-aluminium turbine wheels and a modified engine control system. The use of the titanium-aluminium alloy in the turbochargers reduces the weight of the turbine and compressor wheel, this results in a lower moment of inertia and thus an improved and more responsive engine.

The result of these improvements is a 0.4 second drop in 0 – 62 mph acceleration, from 4.2 seconds in the Turbo to 3.8 seconds in the Turbo S. Top speed increases by 3 mph to 191 mph in the Turbo S. It seems almost ironic in these days of increasing frugality, but Porsche are at pains to point out that the Turbo S is no more profligate than its less powerful sibling – recording 24.6 mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 270 g/km.

Turbo S - 542 bhp and 750 Nm of torque

As you would expect of a new-top-model, Porsche have upgraded equipment levels to help justify the £20,000 premium over the standard Panamera Turbo. The Turbo S now comes with the most important driving dynamics control systems as standard. For example, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), an active roll-stabilisation system, which controls the Panamera’s tendency to lean when cornering, thus enhancing agility and comfort in equal measure.

Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) applies a variable torque split to the rear wheels combined with an electronically controlled rear differential lock, thus optimising traction and agility. The steering system uses the speed-dependent Servotronic. The Sport Chrono Package Turbo, which tunes the suspension and power unit, making them even sportier by pressing the additional ‘Sport Plus’ button, is also fitted as standard, as is the sports exhaust system for a more rousing engine sound.

Exterior embellishments on the Turbo S extend to 20-inch Turbo II wheels with increased rear axle track width, side skirts from the Porsche Exclusive range and an adaptive extending four-way rear spoiler to match the car’s exterior colour. Inside the Panamera Turbo S comes with bi-colour leather finish as standard, plus a new combination of black/cream offered exclusively for the new Panamera Turbo S with agate grey/cream also being added as an exclusive combination later in the autumn of 2011.

Deliveries will begin in June 2011, but you might want to wait and hear more details about BMW’s M5 which will be revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show on April 19th.

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