“Fire the chauffeur” was the punchline of a popular 1980s Porsche commercial, in which a proud owner enjoys driving his new 928 S4 so much that he asks his butler, Charles, to terminate the employment of his chauffeur. But here’s a new Porsche that is designed for those who’d rather be driven.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera Executive is a long-wheelbase version of the Panamera, targeting customers who like to be chauffeured around. It’s available with all engines and represents the second of three Panamera body variations. (The third will be a station wagon, to be called a shooting brake, built using the regular wheelbase—but it will be another year before that derivative hits the market.)
Porsche’s new, second-generation Panamera family also is expanding in the opposite direction. Marking the new port of entrance is the base Panamera, which is powered by a 330-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 and slots neatly under the Panamera 4S. The base car will be called simply the Panamera when fitted with rear-wheel drive, or the Panamera 4 with all-wheel drive.
The new single-turbo engine is closely related to the 440-hp 2.9-liter biturbo offered in the Panamera 4S. In essence, this is the engine offered in the new Audi S4 and S5, but here, it’s mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In the rear-wheel-drive model, zero to 60 mph takes just 5.4 seconds (according to Porsche), and it tops out at an ungoverned 164 mph; the Sport Chrono package shaves another 0.2 second off the standard sprint. With all-wheel drive, acceleration improves further.
The Panamera Executive will be available with all the engines you can get in the standard-length model, including the new entry-level powertrain. What you cannot get is a Panamera Executive with rear-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is standard on the long-wheelbase version. The Executive comes as the Panamera 4 with the aforementioned 3.0-liter V-6 turbo and 330 horsepower, the Panamera 4S with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 440 horsepower, the Panamera Turbo Executive with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 and 550 horsepower, and as the Panamera E-Hybrid Executive with a V-6 plug-in-hybrid powertrain and total system power of 462 horsepower.
Lengthened by 5.9 inches and heavier by around 200 pounds, the Executive models suffer only a slight performance penalty. Top speed remains unchanged, and the claimed zero-to-60-mph times increase by only 0.1 second. Fuel economy is almost identical in Europe-market tests.
At a total length of 204.7 inches, the Panamera Executive is not exactly compact. But it may be the most nimble and agile luxobarge out there. We’ve admired the regular Panamera’s handling prowess, and Porsche’s adaptive damping system (PASM) is standard here. The 4S and Turbo versions of the Panamera Executive also come with standard all-wheel steering, which should make the car handle even more nimbly and decrease the turning circle.
There are some comfort-oriented goodies on board as well: Heated, uplevel “comfort seats” with multifarious adjustment options, an electric rear-window sunshade, and a panoramic sunroof are all standard on the Panamera 4 Executive. The 4S Executive gets soft-close doors as well; and the Turbo Executive tops it off with an ambient interior-lighting system, four-zone climate control, and uplevel LED headlights. It makes for a pretty comprehensive list of standard goodies, although the options list will let you plunk down tens of thousands more.
Even the regular Panamera is graced with a surprisingly spacious rear seat. The Panamera Executive easily reaches the level of the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-class. We like the harmonious look of the new Panamera Executive, and it has been achieved with little compromise. To make sure your neighbors notice, there is a chrome badge on the C-pillar.
The new entry-level, short-wheelbase Panamera will set you back $86,050, while the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 costs $90,650. The long-wheelbase Panamera 4 Executive retails at $97,350, and the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive is priced at $105,150 ($4500 more than the short-wheelbase Panamera 4 E-Hybrid). Pricing for the Executive derivatives of the 4S and Turbo versions has not been announced yet. The first batch of new models will be delivered starting in January 2017. And your chauffeur will be pleased to get behind the wheel.