In what can only be described as the Wildcard of the competition – the Porsche Panamera surprised all the judges at The Chauffeur Car of the Year Awards 2010.
The Panamera was introduced to the market in September 2009 and has already sold more than 20,000 units worldwide. The Marmite looks of the four-seat Porsche certainly caused bit of a storm amongst the judges, but the overall performance and even economy impressed them in the end.
The Panamera 4S fitted well in the £50,000 to £100,000 category and although it was the lowest scoring vehicle of the awards with 73 points, it was only a few points below some of the other cars judged. Even with its sporting pedigree, the Panamera actually offered a relatively smooth ride, considering it is basically a performance car with two extra seats!
When you first enter the Panamera, you sit low and everything is typically Porsche. So instantly, you would find it hard to believe it would suit the chauffeur industry at all. After settling into the bucket seats and figuring out the massive array of buttons which make the dash look like something straight out of the Eurofighter, you can set upon playing with the variety of suspension settings, which will hopefully give Sir in the back a smooth ride.
Although the Panamera was returning almost 30mpg which is pretty impressive in itself, the general running costs and space just would be a too bigger issue for most clients. The shallow 445 litres of boot space is enough for the golf clubs and a couple of over night bags, but not much more.
Up against the Aston Martin Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte, the Panamera 4 starts at just under £67,000 for the 300bhp, V6 model, and on paper seems good value, but a quick look at the pricey options list could easily make this a £85,000 vehicle.
Ultimately, there is a place for the Panamera, and it certainly is not the general hire and reward market. It would be ideally placed outside some of the top London hotels as an alternative to the ‘normal’ chauffeur cars they already operate.
Overall, it is an excellent car and if I was in the market for something fun personally it would be hard not to choose the Panamera, but if you are determined to have the Porsche brand on your fleet, then the 4×4 Cayenne would be a safer and far more comfortable option.