2019 Porsche Panamera GTS: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew GTS
The Porsche Panamera and Panamera Sport Turismo are excellent grand touring cars, offering spacious, luxurious interiors with the performance one associates with the Porsche name. But for those who seek a more sporting Panamera without giving up any of its GT qualities, consider the all-new Panamera GTS.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGran Turismo Sport
GTS stands for Gran Turismo Sport — a blend of a comfortable GT-type ride with Sport performance. There have been many GTS models in Porsche’s history, starting with the 1963 904 Carrera GTS that brought Porsche’s racing technology to the streets. Porsche introduced a GTS version of the last-generation Panamera in 2011, and now further refines the formula with the new Panamera GTS.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The new Panamera GTS is available as either a standard Panamera or a Panamera Sport Turismo. Although standard features and equipment are identical on the two versions, there are some slight performance differences given the additional weight of the Sport Turismo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePanamera GTS
With a base price of $128,300, the Panamera GTS slots between the Panamera S and the Panamera Turbo. As with other Panameras, the GTS comes well equipped with luxury features such as dual-zone climate control, a high-end 150-watt audio system, dual digital display screens, a Wi-Fi hotspot and two centrally-located USB outlets.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePanamera Sport Turismo GTS
The Panamera Sport Turismo GTS is priced at $134,500 and equipped in the same way as the GTS; however, it is available with 4+1 seating, which provides space for three occupants in the rear. The Sport Turismo also has considerably more cargo space as well as more headroom in the rear seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat for Two
Even though the Sport Turismo offers rear seating for three, the 2-passenger configuration is preferable. The rear seat’s center console is just as high tech as the one in front, providing climate and seat information. Legroom is decent, and the Sport Turismo provides additional headroom over the standard Panamera.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnique to GTS
The GTS sets itself apart from the rest of the Panamera lineup in both style and performance. From a visual standpoint, the GTS comes with a SportDesign package that features high-gloss black trim all around. This includes window trim, exhaust outlets, side vents, front grille and GTS logos on the doors. The Porsche logos are also in black, and the taillights get a dark tint. The aggressive look is completed by 20-inch alloy wheels in satin black.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInterior
Inside are standard 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats that feature enhanced side bolsters, power seats and bolstered rear seats. Seats can be swathed in a choice of full leather or a mix of leather and Alcantara.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHigh Tech
One look inside the Panamera and observers will immediately appreciate the perfect blend of technology and luxury. The wide display screen is easy to read and provides audio, navigation, mobile and other details all at once.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNoteworthy Layout
Panamera’s additional controls are nicely peppered on either side of the transmission lever, providing easy access to climate controls as well as vehicle settings. A black panel makes the whole display appear very high tech.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSporting Features
What lurks beneath the menacing exterior really makes this Panamera a GTS. The car’s outstanding capability comes in part from adaptive air suspension and a sport chassis, as a well as massive 6-piston aluminum monobloc fixed-caliper brakes in front, 4-piston in the rear, and Pirelli P-Zero tires. A unique rear spoiler unfolds when deployed, providing a greater surface area with improved downforce. Plus, it looks really cool as it deploys.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSport Chrono Package
The GTS also comes standard with a Sport Chrono Package. This includes a switch on the steering wheel that toggles between four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. A Sport Response button located in the center of the mode switch acts like a turbo-boost button — it delivers the maximum power possible for 20 seconds. In addition, the responsiveness of the engine becomes sharper and the 8-speed PDK switches to more aggressive shift programming.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePlenty of Options
As is common for Porsche, both models are available with a long list of extras that can dramatically increase the price if so desired. These include a high-end Bose audio system, front and rear seat heaters, LED-Matrix headlights, night vision, adaptive cruise control, thermal insulated glass, park assist and a variety of trim materials and colors.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePerformance Goodies
The Panamera GTS is also available with ceramic composite brakes, rear-axle steering and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus — all of which enhance the performance and handling of the GTS.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHead-Up Display
The Panamera GTS is also the first Porsche ever to offer a head-up display. The display is completely configurable and can project a range of information. Unfortunately like many displays such as this, it is difficult to see when wearing polarized sunglasses.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Powering the new Panamera GTS is a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine producing 460 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque at a low 1800 rpm. Power gets handled through a quick-shifting 8-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox, sent to all four wheels via Porsche’s Active all-wheel-drive system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick and Fast
Acceleration figures are impressive — no surprise there. The GTS will sprint to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, passing 100 mph in 9.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 181 mph. The slightly-heavier Sport Turismo takes an additional tenth to reach 100 mph and can “only” muster about 180 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePlenty of Utility
The Panamera certainly isn’t an SUV — although the argument could be made that the Sport Turismo is a wagon — but there’s plenty of utility for such a performance car. When properly outfitted, the Panamera can tow as much as 4,850 pounds or carry 165-pounds of gear on top with the Porsche roof transport system. With its larger storage area, the Sport Turismo can carry almost 50 cubic feet of cargo — even more with the rear seats folded down.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Porsche took a small gaggle of auto journos to the Kingdom of Bahrain to test the new GTS on the street as well as the track. As we headed south on King Hamad Highway, the Panamera GTS cruised like a luxury sedan. Comfortable sport seats, a smooth ride and a quiet interior make the GTS a great vehicle for long road trips.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Passing
At one point our Panamera entourage was driving behind a slower military truck. Changing the drive model to Sport + and engaging full throttle resulted in a quick downshift and a big V8 roar — we received lots of smiles and thumbs up from the soldiers as we flew by.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWater in the Desert
Since none of us had ever been to Bahrain, we were surprised when the rains came. Since the roads don’t have much of a drainage system, we ended up traveling through a lot of standing water. The Panamera was perfectly stable, even when hitting puddles at high speed —unfortunately this resulted in some dirty cars.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Track
The main reason for being in Bahrain was the opportunity to push the Panamera GTS to its limits on the Bahrain International Circuit — home of the Bahrain Formula One race. While the Panamera is a large vehicle — the Sport Turismo tips the scales at 4,465 pounds — handling is like that of a sports car. Turn-in is crisp with almost no understeer, and the experience provides excellent steering feedback.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExcellent Acceleration
With its full-time all-wheel drive and sophisticated Porsche Stability Management system, the Panamera accelerates quickly out of turns. On the long straight at the track, we were able to easily reach 140 mph before braking hard for the very tight first turn.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSeamless Stability
Since the circuit is in the desert, there was a constant layer of sand on the track, making it a bit slick in places. But even to the amateur driver, the Panamera feels stable and seamlessly corrected our course as needed with little to no momentum loss. Driving a car this fun and this forgiving is definitely a treat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGreat Brakes
Our test cars were equipped with the optional ceramic brakes (designated with yellow calipers) and while the tires were rather worn by the end of the day, the brakes continued to work with no fading well into the evening.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
There are many sport sedans on the market—in fact there are several Panameras to choose from. But the new Panamera GTS might be one of the best. With all the qualities of a true grand tourer and the abilities of a proper sports car, the GTS in theory could take the place of two vehicles in your garage. Add to that the luxurious interior and great utility as well as the menacing design, and the Panamera GTS could be the perfect sport sedan. Look for the new Panamera GTS to start arriving in Porsche showrooms sometime in the second quarter of 2019.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Luxurious ride; impressive handling; sporty styling.
Cons: Head-up display hard to see with sunglasses; options can dramatically increase price.
Bottom Line: Excellent blend of Grand Tourer and Sports Sedan — as a GTS should be.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePorsche Panamera GTS

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