FIRST DRIVE: 2012 Panamera GTS
I’ve been wanting to drive the new Panamera GTS since I first saw the press video of Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas, Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet and Marco Holzer, tearing it up around the Nurburgring. After getting behind the wheel, I am thoroughly impressed with the GTS and would be hard pressed to buy the Turbo for the extra money.
The new Panamera GTS is based on the Panamera 4S and includes more power, upgraded brakes and a body lowered by ten millimeters with new, sportier chassis tuning coupled to air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). These technical modifications make the Panamera model even more capable of cutting it on the race track without sacrificing practicality.
In terms of looks, the new Panamera GTS includes distinctive design features at the front, side and rear as well as black highlights. The interior is also tailored to its sporty personality with adaptive sports seats, SportDesign steering wheel with shift paddles and exclusive GTS leather interior with Alcantara surfaces.
The Panamera GTS is powered by a modified 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, delivering 430 hp at 6,700 rpm, increasing the output over the Panamera S/4S by 30 hp. The maximum torque also increases by comparison, from 369 to 384 lb. ft. At the push of a button, thanks to the standard Sport Chrono package, the 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission transmits the engine output to the all-wheel drive system during gear changes without interruption to the power flow. This collaboration enables the Panamera GTS to sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, accelerating on to its top track speed of 178 mph.
I didn’t get the opportunity to come even close to the top speed, but in normal driving on the streets the additional power of the GTS was obvious and extremely well delivered. At the push of the Sport button, I can hear the GTS engine “breathing” even more than usual as a ‘Sound Symposer’ directs the intake sounds into the interior. This is accomplished with the addition of an acoustic channel, which picks up the intake vibrations between the throttle valve and air filter. The acoustic channel incorporates a membrane that transmits the vibrations as an engine sound into the A-pillar. A controllable valve located in front of the membrane enables the Sound Symposer to be activated or deactivated by means of the Sport button.
The 0-60 figures and top speed only scratch the surface of the new Panamera GTS’s sporty character. Its chassis in particular makes it fit for the race track: the adaptive air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) connect the chassis and body, constantly adapting to the driving challenges by regulating leveling settings, adjusting height, modifying the spring rate and electrically modulating the damping system. The body has been lowered by ten millimeters and the damping designed to be tauter, which helps agility and further reinforces the sporty personality of the Panamera GTS. Five millimeter wheel spacers between the wheel and the wheel hubs increase the rear axle track width, giving the Panamera even more stability. The required grip is provided by standard 255/45 size 19-inch tires on the front axle and 285/40 on the rear axle. Optional 20-inch wheels are available with 255/40 tires on the front and 295/35 on the rear.
The aerodynamics of the Panamera GTS are on par with the Panamera Turbo: with its large air intake openings, the standard front fascia from the Panamera’s SportDesign package emphasizes the vehicle’s sporty dynamics and ensures an optimal air supply for the larger air filters unique to the GTS. This is matched in the rear section by fitting the adaptively deploying four-way rear spoiler from the Panamera Turbo. At speeds of 125 mph and above, it positions itself to generate downforce on the rear axle, thereby ensuring stable driving safety at high speeds.
Overall the new Panamera GTS is a fabulous edition to the lineup and at a list price of $109,900 fits nicely between the 4S and the Turbo.
Photos: 9 Magazine