Panamera Power

LIVEOUTLOUD broadens its horizons to sports cars and welcomes the experience of getting behind the wheel of the V6-powered Porsche Panamera 4

I may be a fan of gorgeous cars but I am by no means a petrolhead! Point at a car and I’ll tell you if I’d like to drive it one day in my dreams, but don’t ask me to compare what is under its hood to that of another vehicle of calibre. So when Porsche approached me to write about the new Panamera 4 from a lady’s perspective and I was told no experience in car reviewing was necessary, I couldn’t refuse the temptation to hit empty, winding roads and drive freely at 200km/h without Metro vultures waiting to pounce.  I only managed to clock 186km/h… but not for a lack of trying, I blame the long-haul trucks!

When asked to drive a car worth over R700 000 and you agree to certain liability you would think this would create a bit of nerves, but it wasn’t the car I had a problem with it was the short flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit with a mere 50 or so ‘suicide missioners’ that made me sweat and make dear friends in a hurry. After half an hour of torturous turbulence and meeting a sweet American tourist who tried his best to distract me with touristy questions that he clearly would have already got answers from the South Africa guidebook in his lap, we landed at the quaint thatch-roofed airport ready for our luxury car experience.

Our first introduction to the cars was to be chauffeured off to our overnight destination, Oliver’s Restaurant and Lodge and first impressions would definitely last. The sexy new Panamera 4 is not the kind of car you would allow your children to taint with sticky fingers but it’s definitely understandable why it is being marketed as the preferred ‘mommy car’ of the Porsche range for those who want a sportier-looking car to the Cayenne. Although I packed rather light and my four fellow female journos were also surprisingly light on luggage, we were still remarkably impressed by the space in the boot that can comfortably accommodate four suitcases.

Although the car is kitted out with a complex-looking control panel of buttons, everything makes sense. Not distracting the driver in any way there are no gimmicks when it comes to a Porsche – every aspect has functionality. The short drive to our accommodation was enough to get me fired up to be in the driver’s seat going back to Johannesburg the next morning.

Until then we would be rewarded for the traumatic flight with the most incredible meal at Oliver’s and adorable lodgings that made me think there had to be an easier way to get to the area to enjoy this again.

In the morning we paired up into navigator-driver duos and were on the road early enough for me to panic about morning dew and possible rain and did I remember where the windscreen wiper was– I was told not to worry, obviously they were on sensor and would work automatically if need be, silly me. Before I knew it I was putting foot through the Mpumalanga Highlands Meander and my navigator Kate had to point out that we seemed to have lost the rest of the convoy behind us… oops! The car drives like it’s on rails even around sharp corners and having to overtake massive trucks, at no point did I feel like the car had the control. From the outside the Panamera 4 appears on the large side, when I first saw it I addressed concern that being five foot I probably wouldn’t be able to see over the bonnet but of course the seats and steering wheel are adjustable for height and comfort and once inside the car isn’t as big as it seems.

Let’s get technical

The Panamera 4 offers Porsche Traction Management(PTM)  with active all-wheel drive; seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe(PDK), (Porsche Double-Clutch Gearbox), acceleration 0-100km/h in 6.1 sec. The smooth drive and stylish interior make the driver feel just as comfortable as any of the passengers which adds to its appeal for use on those long family drives down to the coast. And the car is a gem on fuel, only averaging 9.6l/100km with the benefit of Auto Stop Start which not only saves fuel but lowers CO₂ emissions. You also have the option of hitting the Sport or Sport Plus buttons, allowing the driver to activate (and heighten) all the relevant systems in the car from optimum fuel economy to high or maximum performance – making changes like sharper throttle, brake pads closer to discs and longer and sharper gear changes noticeable.

Those not used to the power of the Porsche Panamera will be surprised at the ease of increase in speed and the gentle hum that would make it a pleasure to drive through Melrose Arch without drawing too much attention – who am I kidding? The car is hot, everyone will be looking at you anyway.

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For more information visit www.porschejohannesburg.com

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