Porsche, once upon a time, was known for rear-mounted air-cooled engines. Well, no more! While they still have rear-mounted engines in some models, there's a whole lot of luxury Porsche models with front engines that are water cooled.
Case in point is the Panamera, powered by a 2.9-liter V6 emptying two turbochargers that give it a rating of 326 HP at 5,400 rpm and Torque of 332 ft-lb. That's connected to an 8-speed automatic.
What makes this sports car different is that it has four doors like a family sedan while still managing to have a road-hugging shape like the 911 in its family tree. The rear seats fold down so if you're going skiing, you could put your skis inside.
One of the best features is the huge infotainment screen, which takes a little practice to master—while tuning Sirius radio you might find yourself adjusting the air conditioning until you get used to where all the controls are located.
Another feature is the sunroof. I remember being in other cars where the rear seat passengers don't get to enjoy the open sunroof that the front seaters do, which is not the case in the Panamera.
While I didn't want to take it to a racetrack to see if I could reach its promised 168 mph, I was still impressed that the 5,500 pounds was carried well, and the suspension could be altered at the touch of a button to adjust to the roughness of the road (air suspension is an option).
I did take the car up one of Los Angeles' snow-capped mountains and found it could be driven briskly, a match for any sports cars costing below $200,000.
Pricewise, I found the base model—below $90,000—satisfying, but the model choices go up in price from there, as you custom-order your own ride the way you want it.
Summing up? I see the buyer for this being a family man who wants something sporty to drive to work and take clients to lunch in that doesn’t sacrifice on comfort. And on the weekends, drivers can dial in the suspension to where they want it and drive briskly up the mountain the way Porsches made their legend in races, so it's no surprise this model's name is a shortened version of Panamericana. the road race where Porsche made its name with good showing in that classic 1,000-mile race in Mexico back in '53.
Listen to Wallace Wyss’ weekly car reports on “Autotalk” on KUCR-FM Riverside.