FIRST DRIVE: Panamera 4S Executive Edition
Pardon me. Do you have any Grey Poupon?
Let’s be honest, is sitting in the back seat of a Porsche exciting to you? No. Certainly not to me. But in some world markets, it’s an absolute privilege. Take for example China. There, an extended wheelbase Panamera would be considered a limousine. That is exactly what Porsche has delivered.
But there is a twist. With the new Panamera 4S Executive, you can have the best of both worlds: you could go for a sporty spin in the driver’s seat of one of the world’s most desirable GT’s but also offer rear seat passengers the most luxurious, spacious back seat. Personally, I’d prefer to be in the driver’s seat.
The market for extra-long touring sedans started early on when BMW introduced the 740oiL and has continued over the years with competition from other manufacturers including Audi with the A8L. Now, Porsche has introduced a long-wheelbase car of their own. The stretched silhouette of the Panamera emphasizes the elegance, yet it maintains the sporty nature of the beast.
Called the “Executive Edition,” it’s more or less the same car as the 2014 Panamera 4S with an extra 5.9 inches added to the length of the body. This equates to 4.7” of usable interior space. The additional space benefits only the rear passengers, particularly on long journeys. The rear seats are eight-way power seats that now recline even further, enabling you to find the ideal sitting position. Go ahead, recline a bit. Cross your legs. There’s space! Other luxury features include comfort headrests, electric backrest adjustment, seat squab length adjustment, and lumbar support. Early press photos showed a rear seat area that included fold-down tea trays for the passenger; however the US version of the car does not include the trays. Bummer. I was looking forward to the tray so I could place my Grey Poupon.
Allegedly built with the Chinese market in mind, this long-wheelbase Panamera is important to Porsche financially, and philosophically. It is, for the first time, a Porsche made for the passenger instead of the driver. And although this model may not become a big seller in the American market, it will no doubt steal some share from BMW and Audi in the long-wheelbase segment. Regardless of who is going to buy this car, it’s hard to argue with the amount of space and luxury the rear-seat provides to the occupants of the Porsche Executive models.
The Panamera 4S Executive shares the same drive line as the short wheelbase 4S. And for 2014, Porsche has introduced entirely new engine for the Panamera S that produces 20 more hp than the outgoing 4.8-liter V8 while returning better fuel economy. It’s now a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 3.0L V6 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. It’s connected to the same seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic found in the previous Panamera along with active all-wheel drive of Porsche Traction Management (PTM). PTM comprises an active all-wheel drive with electronic and map-controlled multi-plate clutch, with automatic brake differential (ABD) and anti-slip regulation (ASR).
With the exception of the different engine, the 2014 Porsche Panamera 4S Executive drives very much like the shorter wheelbase Panamera. I guess since the Panamera is already super long to begin with, an additional 5.9 inches made hardly any difference to me. It’s there, but it’s tough to notice the extra length. It points into corners like a Porsche should while feeling just as nimble on the road. Hydraulic-assist, variable-ratio power steering is now standard across the Panamera line and feels tight and precise. The only time the extra length is noticeable is when looking in the rear view mirror. There you notice the cabin being slightly longer. Otherwise, there is not much difference in the drive between the short wheel-base car and the Executive Edition.
The Porsche Panamera 4S Executive will do zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds (4.5 with Sport Chrono). It’s just as quick as before, however the way it gets there is a little different. The twin-turbocharged V6 requires a moment for the turbos to spool up while the previous V8 just launched off the line. For some, this provides an extra kick and enjoyment to the drive which was only previously available on the top of the line Panamera Turbo. One big thing I noticed, however, was the sound. The old V8 had such a sweet exhaust note, while the new V6 bi-turbo Panamera sounds anemic. The new V6 Bi-Turbo is missing the growl of the V8. It’s weak and it needs a sport exhaust option, pronto.
The 4S Executive’s starting price of $125,600 is a $27,000 premium over the standard-length 4S, which means that you’re paying $4,500per added inch! That’s an awful lot extra for just a little bit, but it makes a pretty big difference when you are a passenger in the rear. If you want to be escorted around town in Porsche style and have some extra leg room, or have really tall family members, then the Executive Edition would be a perfect addition to the stable. Otherwise, skip the extra 5.9” and the extra $27,000 and go with the 4S.