Porsche is hoping its second-generation Panamera will lure more European customers with the sedan's sportier appearance, which gives the car a silhouette more typical of the brand's iconic 911 coupe.
"As a designer, it’s no secret that the styling of such a large vehicle is the biggest challenge," Porsche designer Thorsten Klein said.
"The new Panamera should be recognizable as such but naturally one can bolster its strengths and balance out some of the weaknesses it may have had." By lowering the rear bank of seats, the roofline could be tapered in the back to give it a more downward sloping appearance. Extending the wheelbase also enabled developers to push the front axle farther past the A-pillar. The result was a profile closer to a grand tourer that "reflects a little bit of the 911's soul," Klein said.
While more than 150,000 first-generation Panameras have been sold since the car debuted in 2009, few Porsche enthusiasts in Germany chose to purchase what was considered a stretched version of the 911. Last year Porsche sold 17,200 units of the car, less than any other model range including the Boxster/Cayman mid-engine sports car.
China and the U.S., where oversized sedans and grand tourers are far more common, were the car's two largest markets last year, accounting for a combined six out of every 10 sold worldwide. The Panamera is the first vehicle to feature Porsche's proprietary MSB rear-wheel-drive architecture. The four-door vehicle comes equipped with all new engines and a revamped eight-speed dual clutch transmission.
The Panamera's lighter build, a broader selection of suspension tuning configurations and greater agility because of its rear-axle steering allows for the high lateral acceleration rates needed to lap the Nuerburgring's demanding Nordschleife circuit in just 7:38 minutes.
"The previous-generation 911 GT3 (street-legal racecar) took 7:40 and that was using ultra high-performance tires that can shave a good 8 to 10 seconds off," Gernot Doellner, vice president in charge of the Panamera product line, told Automotive News Europe during the launch. "The new Panamera bested that with a set of series production tires from Yokohama."