TORONTO, ON – In Porsche lingo, the “GTS” moniker usually refers to a model that has been lightened a little bit, and stuffed chock full of performance goodies and potentially some design enhancements that help with a more sporty appearance. With regards to the second-generation Panamera, this just might be the sweet spot in the lineup. While the first iteration of the four-door was a bit controversial in the looks department, there’s no denying the sheer beauty of the current one. We were invited to sample the 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS and GTS Sport Turismo to see just how it fits into the lineup.
The Sport Turismo body style seems to be the most desirable among enthusiasts, who crave the traditional long-roof format. Sales say about 10% of Canadians have opted for the Sport Turismo variant. Both body styles are available in GTS form, filling a gap between the Panamera 4S and Turbo. Key differences on the GTS model include a SportDesign appearance pack, tinted LED tail lights, blacked-out trim throughout, standard sport suspension, and bigger brakes (390x38mm front, 365x28mm rear), and more. The adaptive spoiler is one of the most striking design cues, and operates in a very “Transformers” kind of way.
Panamera GTS models pack the same 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 as the Turbo, but boost has been brought down to 12psi versus the 19psi in the Turbo. As a result, power is brought down to 453 (versus 550) and 457 lb-ft. of torque. We’re on board with Porsche’s decision to go with the V8 rather than just up the boost on the Panamera 4S’ turbocharged V6, as the eight has more torque down low and offers better real-world response. Plus, it’s a V8 with a standard sport exhaust system in an automotive landscape filled with turbocharged four-cylinders – can you really go wrong?
Porsche has paired the V8 to an eight-speed variant of the lightning quick PDK dual-clutch transmission. After having sampled every current dual-clutch application in the business, it’s still no argument that PDK is the absolute pinnacle of transmissions. This remains the case regardless of driving situation, whether just leisurely commuting to the office or bombing up the back straight at your favourite track. The Panamera GTS responds almost telepathically, always knowing exactly where to be in the power band and delivering exactly what the driver asks for, even before being asked for it.
All Panamera GTS’ are all-wheel-drive, which helps with grip and the official claim for a 4.1 second run to 0-100km/h. It can send all of the power to the back if needed, and up to 70% to the front wheels. A Launch Control mode will set off at 5,000RPM and effectively pull your face back as the car hustles off the line. Ride quality is extremely well sorted from the sport suspension (that makes the car sit 10mm lower than the Turbo), which does offer adaptive damping as well. It’s firmer than any other full-size flagship sedan, but that’s the point. This is high-end S-Class (reviewed here) pricing, but the Panamera is a true four-door sports car in how it carries its weight.
No matter how you look at it, the GTS is a missile. It’s a hammerhead in a straight line and can handle corners with high levels of effortlessness. Analog feel may be a thing of the past, but the Panamera offers a very technical personality, allowing the driver full command over every move it makes. Additional tech that stands out includes optional active anti-roll bars that are powered by 48V electro-mechanical power, rear-wheel steering that increases cornering sharpness, and carbon-ceramic brakes. A cool touch is the Sport Response button that sharpens everything up and cranks up the boost for 20 seconds, for that response you need for a quick pass.
The interior of the GTS model gets Porsche’s excellent Sport Chrono package as standard fare, including a host of options that allows maximum personalization. Porsche’s Advanced Cockpit offers two seven-inch screens in the instrument gauge cluster allowing customizability between a variety of different displays. The main infotainment is controlled through a 12.3” touchscreen, which has some of the best speed and feedback in the business. It can be a bit convoluted to navigate, but the display is brilliant and surpasses pretty much everything else in the business.
Fit and finish is top notch, with the GTS offering a full Alcantara interior. Materials are wonderful, and the cabin feels worth every bit of the cost of entry. The regular Panamera gets 500L of cargo space behind the rear seats, which increases to 525L on the Sport Turismo. These seats fold down in a 40/20/40 split, and folding them down will increase the Sport Turismo’s capacity to a generous 1,390L.
Pricing for the 2019 Panamera starts at $98,300, with the GTS sitting mid-pack at $146,200. Opting for the Sport Turismo model will set buyers back an extra $7,100, for a starting sticker of $153,300. Of course, a plethora of options is available at a price, and you can tailor your Panamera or Sport Turismo to your specific tastes. The Mamba Green is a particularly striking paint colour available, and it’s the one that we would opt for – especially in an age where greys and silvers reign our parking lots.
If you’ve set your sights on the new Panamera, you’ve already made a spectacular decision. If heading into the E-Hybrid route isn’t necessarily for you, then this is likely the model to opt for. While the Turbo is tremendously fast, unless you’re spending the majority of your time on the racetrack, you won’t really be able to appreciate its true capabilities. The 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS gives buyers the perfect balance between a serene daily cruiser that makes wonderful noises and one that provides an engaging driving experience year-round.