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Porsche

2010 Porsche Panamera: A Four-Door Hatchback

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Porsche has had a relatively simple auto lineup the past couple of years.  You have the entry-level Boxster roadster (entry-level for Porsche anyway), followed by the Cayman coupe, next up is the ubiquitous 911 sports car, and then there’s the Cayenne mid-size SUV.  All of these vehicles have various configurations, but the Porsche lineup has essentially been four vehicles.  The German automaker is adding a fifth entrant to that lineup, and its a four-door hatchback sedan, the Panamera.

The Porsche Panamera is big.  Look at a Boxster or 911 and you can see that the company’s engineers understand how to pack a lot of power in a small space.  Look at the Panamera and you see a ludicrous amount of power packed into a big space.  The Panamera comes in three levels, the base S model, the all-wheel drive 4S, and the Turbo.  The Turbo model is powered by a massive twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 engine that produces a staggering 500 horsepower, with the lower level models having naturally-aspirated engines.

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The Panamera is a bit at-odds with itself.  The car weighs around 4400 pounds, but the engineers who created it painstakingly reduced any possible excess weight.  The front end is composed of light-weight aluminum and a little bit of magnesium, and extraneous parts have been discarded.  While sporty vehicles normally go through this type of diet, the Panamera still manages to retain the comfort and feel of a luxury sedan, despite the mind- and stomach-bending speeds it can achieve.  The Panamera is long too, stretching 195.7 inches, a little more than 23 inches longer than the Porsche Boxster.

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So how does Porsche maintain its sporting heritage with such a large vehicle?  The first way is with the aforementioned V8 engine, but another engineering marvel is the body design.  The Panamera’s shape was designed from the very beginning to do two things:  provide a quiet ride for the passengers, and to minimize all possible wind resistance.  Aiding this effort is a three piece spoiler in the back.  At low speeds, the spoiler is positioned at a negative angle to minimize drag.  Go about 55 mph, and the spoiler lifts and extends to either side.  Go over 125 mph, and the spoiler angle shifts to a positive angle in order to apply downward force to the rear wheels.

The Porsche is very good at what it does:  goes fast and rides comfortably.  You can take the corners without much trouble, but you’re going to have to deal with a massive amount of g-forces.  It’s an expensive car, with the Turbo costing $133,500 and the non-turbo versions coming in at around $90,000, but if you want to rip around a track at record speed and be able to fit your kids in the back seat, there’s no finer option than the Panamera.

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