Review: Porsche Panamera GTS
Evidently not content with just applying the GTS moniker to one or two cars in the range, Porsche has strived to give pretty much every model the three-letter suffix that denotes some of the most powerful and most focused driver’s cars the company makes.
We took a spin in one of the early adopters – the Panamera GTS super saloon – to see whether power really does corrupt.
The beating heart of the GTS is a fabulous 4.8-litre V8. Unlike most modern engines, there’s no forced induction – no turbocharger or supercharger – and that gives it a much smoother power delivery.
Rather than waiting a split second, then darting off at every flex of your right foot like a highly strung turbocharged engine might, the GTS simply goes and rides a swell of power which hits its 435bhp peak at 6,700rpm.
By that point, the Panamera GTS is making the sort of noise that causes small boys to wet themselves with excitement – a deep, evil-sounding bark that almost, but not quite, drowns out the bubbling undertone you get from all powerful V8s. It’s a fantastic sound.
It sounds even better as you slow down, with an almost gunfire-esque crackle coming from the four big tailpipes as unused fuel explodes in the exhaust system.
Sadly, the sound isn’t entirely natural. There’s an audio system called Sound Symposer, which feeds added intake noise into the cabin to give the occupants an even sportier backing track.
For the most part, though, the V8 growl comes from the sports exhaust, which features tuning flaps to provide extra volume. The flaps are controlled by a switch on the centre console, and though the setting doesn’t really make the car that much louder, it’s a button you’ll want to leave firmly in the ‘on’ position.
So the GTS sounds incredible, and it’s no case of all talk and no trousers: this thing gets you places very, very quickly. With 520Nm of torque, sent to the road via a seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox and a mild four-wheel drive system (mild because only 10% of the power is sent to the front wheels), the GTS gets from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and on to a 179mph top speed.
But even with this supercar performance and the low-tech naturally aspirated engine, it’s still fairly efficient, considering it’s a 1.9-tonne, four-door, four-seat supercar. Officially, it’ll return 27.4mpg and emit 249g of CO2 per kilometre.
As well as producing a great engine, Porsche has mated it to an even more competent chassis. The normal Panamera is good, but the GTS has been tuned with a lower ride height and has taught, electrically controlled damping to give it beautifully balanced handling.
Air suspension is a strange choice for a supercar, but Porsche has stuck to its guns with the same stubbornness which has seen the 911 stay rear-engined for the past 50-odd years. Whatever the reasoning though, the German engineers have perfected it.
The Panamera GTS is quite comfortable at low speed and in the cruise, and though that normally means handling is compromised, there’s no such trade-off with the Porsche. It’s flat and nimble through the bends, and the weighty, feelsome steering simply guides the car around with deceptively little fuss. It’s quite possible to cruise around a corner, take a quick glance at the instruments, and suddenly realise you’re doing 10-15mph more than you thought.
All that comes before you go anywhere near the ‘Sport’ button. Push that and the car feels slightly more pumped; more ready for action. Go for the ultra-aggressive Sport Plus mode and you’ll really sense the car settling into its lowest ride height, the throttle response become super-sharp and the steering gain directness.
The GTS isn’t all about performance though. The ‘GT’ part of the initials stands for grand touring, and the car has been built with that in mind.
Inside, there are two snug (and surprisingly comfortable) leather- and Alcantara-trimmed sports seats with red contrast stitching and 18-way electric adjustment, while the sculpted steering wheel is also wrapped in Alcantara and features a ‘twelve o’clock’ marking.
Build quality is, as you’d expect, exceptional, but with the black headlining, the GTS’ cabin does get a little dingy.
Goodies offered as standard with the the £93,391 asking price include 19in alloys, two-zone climate control, a 7in touchscreen with satellite navigation, front and rear Park Assist, a Bose surround-sound HiFi and cruise control.
On the outside, the GTS is set apart by its Turbo-inspired styling. The front end has the same styling package as the Turbo, and there’s the same adaptive rear spoiler which produces rear downforce at speeds in excess of 127mph.
There is a number of black touches too, such as the GTS lettering on the boot lid, the rear diffuser and the side skirts.
Does the Porsche Panamera need a GTS version? No.
Are we glad there is one? Definitely.
Most of the time, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference in performance between the GTS’ V8 and the punchy, turbocharged diesel offered lower down the range, but you’d never, ever tire of the V8’s soundtrack, and that’s enough to make this car special. It’s just a question of whether it’s worth an extra £30,000.
Porsche Panamera GTS at a glance
+ Fabulous soundtrack
+ Immense power
+ Brilliant handling
- More expensive to run than standard car
- Gloss black detailing won’t be to everyone’s taste
Boot space: 445 / 1,263 litres
Kerb weight: 1,920kg
Engine: 4.8-litre V8 (425bhp, 520Nm)
Transmission: 7-spd PDK Automatic
Top speed: 179mph
Fuel economy: 27.4mpg