Gulf Insider spends a day in Bahrain with the 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS.
In late 2016 we were pleased to review the much revamped Panamera, applauding its more aggressive looks, vastly improved interior and increased driver engagement. A little over two years on, the Panamera family is almost complete with the imminent release of the Panamera GTS variant of this luxury full size sedan. Offered as a saloon, the Panamera GTS, or as a ‘shooting brake’, the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo, these latest and final additions to the range sit between the S and Turbo variants both in price and performance.
As with all GTS models, the Porsche designers have succeeded in delivering a more sporty appearance with the addition of redesigned all black side skirts, window surrounds and front and rear valances, also lowering the car by 10mm to further emphasise its sharpened purpose. Both models utilise a 4 litre bi-turbo V8 engine which propels the car to 100 km/h in a little under 4 seconds, continuing on to a top speed of 290 km/h. With both cars weighing in at around 2,000kg these figures show what 460 horsepower can do when efficiently focused; as we were to find out during the day!
The GTS ‘touch’ continues throughout the interior with Alcantara trim covering the 18-way sports seat’s central panels, door panels, etc. The steering wheel also gets the Alcantara treatment which is particularly welcome when living in the temperatures we endure in the Middle East. The GTS also comes standard with the Sport Chrono package, optional on all other models, along with the high standard Porsche Advanced Cockpit introduced with the range in 2016. Two seven-inch screens within the instrument cluster form the interactive cockpit and a 12-inch touchscreen in the centre console acts as the window into the heart of the vehicle’s systems and infotainment capabilities.
A new addition for the GTS, which we suspect will find its way into all other variants in the future, is the Head-Up display which projects all relevant vehicle information directly into the driver’s line of sight in full colour. The system is one of the first we have seen that works effectively in the brilliant sunlight we live in here and includes key directional information, speed limits, as well as vehicle speed, etc. which is particularly helpful in ensuring the drivers eyes are where they need to be when pushing on in the camera ridden environment that we now find ourselves driving through!
The morning is spent traversing Bahrain to demonstrate the car’s daily driving capabilities, where we unsurprisingly encountered general large-city traffic jams and hold ups. Possibly not inspiring, spending this time in the car driving in conditions that most of us will experience on a daily basis served to demonstrate an almost effortless driving experience, which was very ably supported by (and much used)the car’s adaptive cruise control and many other sensors. Collectively known as Innodrive, it is exactly this environment that it was designed for, with the car steering itself, braking and accelerating to very ably relieve the general stress of inner city driving. After the brief sightseeing tour, a coffee and lunch stop, both ourselves and I am sure the GTS’s, were ready for something different! – the Bahrain International Circuit beckoned!
Arriving at the circuit, the cars were driven directly into the pits to have a few psi removed from their tyres, due to the high track temperature that day, and a quick check of levels. For a Porsche straight out of the showroom this was all the designers considered necessary preparation before 4 hours at the track; that’s confidence in your product!
Chasing, and staying admirably close to, a bright yellow 911 Turbo S (our guide/instructor), the cars headed out onto the track to demonstrate to us what they are really all about. Flying down the main straight at 240km/h, stomping on the brakes as you head for the apex of turn 1, since March 2014 the Michael Schumacher corner, and then flooring the throttle to push the car up the hill through turns two and three, the GTS’s began to demonstrate their innate abilities that had been hidden so well during the morning’s pedestrian travels. The huge ceramic brakes take off speed far beyond the limits that physics would suggest, immediately followed by the growling of the V8 in Sport+ mode as it propels you towards the next turn, ready to repeat it again and again. The experience was totally exhilarating and far beyond what almost any other car in this class can achieve, especially with certainly F1 circuit novices at the wheel. After three laps in manual mode, flicking the paddles sometimes at inappropriate times (!), I decided to let Porsche’s software gurus and engineering maestros take over leaving the car in automatic. I would like to say the first three laps were better, but I would be lying!
Following the less than smooth piloting by twenty five journalists, each doing 6 laps in the 6 cars, they were given a quick once over by the engineers over while we awaited the arrival of darkness and the much awaited opportunity to repeat it all again under lights; truly the stuff of “petrol-head” dreams.
The evening session saw us out on the full F1 circuit, which as well as being an awesome spectacle under lights, threw new challenges as we propelled the cars into new corners, struggling to hit braking points and apexes, these cars were certainly put through their paces, though I am sure not nearly demonstrating their full capabilities in the hands of more capable charioteers. They performed faultlessly.
As the adrenaline subsided, I analysed briefly what we had put these cars through. Each showroom specification car, less 10psi in the tyres, had managed to deliver over 50 laps of flat out abuse on an F1 circuit without fault or any perceptible degradation. This, perhaps most of all, demonstrates the prowess of Porsche engineering and the confidence and esteem in which they hold their product.
The starting prices for the models are Panamera GTS (BHD 59,300) and the Panamera GTS Sport Turismo (BHD 59,300).
To book a test drive contact Porsche Center Bahrain on +973 1745 9911