Part of the appeal of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, aside from the impossibly beautiful old cars, are the new car displays. We are at Pebble Beach and caught the 2010 Porsche Panamera’s US debut. Love it or hate it, the Panamera seems like an imposing car in photos – that aggressive 911/Cayenne aggregate front end coupled with the bizarre ‘80s Cadillac Seville drooping tail seem to add up to a very striking overall impression. If you want to see the new Porsche Panamera in the flesh in the US, the only place to do so (for now) is at Pebble Beach. We were fortunate enough to see two examples of the breed, flown directly from the Leipzig manufacturing facility in Germany directly to the event. The two on display were the higher-end trim levels – the “base” ‘S’ model (MSRP $89,900), and the range-topping Turbo. Make the jump for a full gallery of both cars and our impressions.
But in person, we found the car to be much more tame – much more Cayenne than 911 GT3. That’s probably intentional. We also didn’t find it offensive. The styling really works as a package, hiding the immense bulk of the thing (and it really is a huge car) and conveying that it was fast, comfortable, and luxurious. So we think Porsche succeeded pretty well with crafting this model to their target audience. And man, it is incredibly comfortable. We haven’t been in a moving Panamera yet, but each of the four seats makes lesser vehicle perches seem like the economy class on a Soviet airliner. If you want business jet-class comfort in a four-wheeled package, the Panamera seems like a welcome proposition.
The individual details also made a big difference – the 911-style gauges, the inset chronograph, the sumptuous leather. Porsche is known for screwing together a well-crafted interior, and the Panamera is Porsche at the top of their game. We are pretty confident that the ergonomics of the center console will get tiresome, with all of those similarly-shaped buttons arrayed around the gear selection lever, but it looks beautiful. And since that is where most Panamera owners and their well-heeled passengers will be spending their time, it’s fairly important that it works as well as it does.
Check out the gallery below for more.