2024 Porsche Panamera Prototype Drive: Refining the Formula

2024 porsche panamera prototype
2024 Porsche Panamera Preview: Refined FormulaPorsche

There is an all-electric Porsche Panamera in the making, but before it arrives on the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP) about four years from now, the third-generation (G3) four-door flagship will bow in early 2024 for its final seven-year life cycle. Unfortunately, it will be offered in only one body style this time, as the take rate for the Sport Turimso has dipped below 10 percent, so that variant is being discontinued.

The shift toward plug-in hybrids continues with a fourth model, the Turbo PHEV. We drove the 680-hp top offering alongside the upgraded entry-level 353-hp Panamera 4 2.9 in the mountains northwest of Barcelona. Note, however, that at this point, all powertrain output figures are still tentative, with final confirmation expected closer to production.

Goals for the New Panamera

"Making a very good car even better sounds like the easiest trick in the book but is almost always a huge challenge," says project leader Thomas Friemuth. "In the case of the G3, the main focus was on the chassis, drivetrain, and interior. The character of the Panamera remains unchanged, but performance, ride and handling, the PHEV application, and the in-car entertainment are all significantly improved."

2024 porsche panamera prototype

At a glance, the moderately camouflaged pre-production vehicles don't look much different from the current vintage. Look closer though, and you will notice more muscular fenders and side panels, piercing HD matrix headlights, restyled 20- and 21-inch wheels, and full-width taillights capable of accommodating an illuminated Porsche logo.

Driving the New Panamera

Which model first? Let's start the day in the base V-6. Don't be surprised by a six-figure price tag here—the car gains some 25 horsepower, and its standard suspension now includes Porsche's Active Suspension Management (PASM) system with two-valve dampers and semi-active double-chamber air springs that are claimed to make the 2024 vintage more comfortable and more involving. True or false? It depends on what drive mode you're in. While Sport Plus feels a little firmer than before, Normal is subjectively a tad more compliant. "Exactly!" says Friemuth. "The goal of the new setup is to broaden the scope. There is no need for a cushier Comfort calibration anymore, and in a sport-luxury car like this you don't want to go any stiffer either."


Comfort is a newly gained asset in other areas, too, such as the seats. The eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic now features a new liftoff mode that shifts down with velvet gloves until the vehicle comes to a full stop. And the noise level was further reduced by acoustic absorbers in the roof, foam-filled pillars, and new cowl-to-bulkhead insulation.

2024 porsche panamera prototype

The 2.9-liter V-6 is not particularly refined, torquey, or frugal, and its power and torque delivery are far from sensational. Still, it will hurl the (claimed) 4310-pound Panamera to 62 mph in an estimated 5.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 181 mph. The optional Sport exhaust can be paired with a two-stage synthesizer that fills the cabin with even rowdier vibes.

The redesigned cockpit sports a fully digital curved instrument display with three large round dials next to a 10.9-inch center screen and a matching passenger-side monitor. As in the Cayenne, the small stubby gear lever is relocated from the console to the dashboard—convenient, perhaps, but so un-Porsche-like. Out back, the luggage compartment can now hold two XL golf bags thanks to some repackaging and a slimmer subwoofer.

Next, we climb into the V-8 Turbo E-Hybrid, which replaces the gas-engine Turbo S. Porsche is coy about the final specification, but we expect around 680 horsepower, which would leave room for an expected 750-hp Turbo S E-Hybrid due later next year. For reduced emissions and improved fuel economy, the twin-turbo 4.0-liter switches from twin-scroll to mono-scroll turbochargers. On the electric side of things, the cooling of the motors is now handled by oil instead of water, and the maximum energy regeneration increases from 45 to 80 kilowatts, while the electric motor's power output rises from 134 to 188 horsepower.

2024 porsche panamera prototype

At the same time, the battery's capacity increases from 17.9 to 25.9 kilowatt-hours (an estimated 14.3 to 20.6 kilowatt-hours in usable terms), while the zero-emission range is expected to jump from 39 to approximately 53 miles on the European test cycle. It's far too early to know how any U.S. model will be rated, but if the same magnitude of benefit were somehow bestowed on a 2023 Panamera 4S E-Hybird its EPA-rated plug-in range would increase from 19 miles to 26 miles. Going along with the increased battery size, the switch to a higher-capacity 11-kW onboard charger enables Level 2 recharging in as little as two or three hours.

All Panamera PHEVs are available with the new Porsche Active Ride suspension, which combines single-chamber air springs with two-valve dampers. "This is a fully active system," explains Friemuth. "The car remains level at all times except in active cornering mode, when a 3.0-degree lean is automatically dialed in. At the same time, a 1.5-degree anti-dive and anti-squat feature keeps unwanted body movements to an absolute minimum. Furthermore, the single-chamber layout dispenses with the extra weight, complexity, and cost of hydraulically adjustable anti-roll bars, making them obsolete." A convenient new feature is the 55-mm (2.2-inch) ride-height adjustment that makes entry and exit more comfortable. Although the steering is carryover, the calibration was modified for a more progressive action, improved damping, and a less agitated on-center feel. Carbon-ceramic brakes are again standard.

2024 porsche panamera prototype

Predictably, the V-8 Turbo E-Hybrid is a much different animal from the base car. On the debit side, there is a weight penalty of close to 1100 pounds compared to the V-6. On the credit side, the combined torque of some 665 pound-feet simply can't wait to neutralize the laws of physics. In Sport Plus with launch control active and a full battery, the high-performance GT allegedly can accelerate to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds. The top speed is said to exceed 190 mph (the future Turbo S E-Hybrid should hit 200).

Depending on drive mode and throttle position, the eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission can be machine-gun quick or comfortably relaxed. Engine and e-motor form a similar community of purpose that stretches from full-bore raucous and high-voltage energetic to hummingbird relaxed and surprisingly energy efficient. But like most Porsches, the new Panamera shines brightest where the competition is beginning to pale. Active Ride sharpens the handling, perfects the ride, and complements the roadholding without inserting the thinnest layer of indifference and artificiality. And the brakes are at first a touch too grabby and not so easy to modulate, but they grow on you by delivering the goods with relentless stamina and vigor.

As the interim line-topper, the 2024 Panamera V-8 Turbo PHEV is an ultra-fast long-distance cruiser, a sports sedan, and a stylish family carryall. The biggest dynamic difference compared to the outgoing version originates in the recalibrated rear subframe, which in combination with the optional rear-wheel steering, adds a welcome dash of compliance and stability. The new Panamera successfully moves the needle. It fuses maneuverability, grip, and drivability like no other full-size four-door.

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