This well known quote from the infamous John McClane* immediately popped into my mind the first time I put my foot down in my Panamera. It was followed by a grin in the size of the equator.
But… but… but… why?
I was content with my 2009 model year Cayenne to the point that I wasn’t really looking to upgrade (or downgrade) to anything, yet something was still off. There’s no practical reasoning behind it, just the thought “the new one is better because of reasons” just kept coming back when seeing the newer body styles driving around town. I kept thinking whether I actually wanted to be content or be happy. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a V6 Cayenne. I think it is a brilliant car with a few technical quirks, but coming from a 911 Turbo, something was still off.
The first time I sat in the Panamera (970 4S) and took it for a test drive, I knew what it was – I actually prefer sitting so low, the tarmac almost scraping my butt. The weird thing about the Panamera – while it’s pretty much the same size as the Cayenne in width and length, it still feels like you’re driving a sports car. Boy, I had no idea, how badly I missed that. I only once drove a Porsche sports car (a Cayman S) shortly after selling my 996 and over the one and a half years I owned the Cayenne, the feeling of missing something grew stronger – I just didn’t realise what that feeling was.
As I wrote earlier in my Cayenne stories (part 1, part 2), I liked the car and still think it’s great, but in the end – I have to admit – I like the Panamera a lot more. It’s not of course as versatile as the Cayenne (there’s lot less room in the trunk and you’re missing a seat in the back), but oh, boy does it make up for it in driving dynamics. As it is lighter, it has better acceleration, uses less fuel and feels much smaller than it actually is. It’s still heavier and bigger compared to a 911, but if you don’t look in the back, you could easily say that the experience is very much like a 911 – even the dashboard is so similar to the 911, so that someone who isn’t very knowledgeable about Porsches might mistake one for the other.
So, it’s settled then, a Panamera it will be
I’m in no means wealthy, so buying a Panamera didn’t actually seem like the road I want to go down again (get it on a lease), but when I looked at the numbers over and over again, I kept coming back to my trusted philosophy – why buy a boring new car, when I can have a car that I really like for the same money. Of course you get a used car and it can break down etc, but having driven Porsches for two decades already, the times that I’ve been stranded in one, have been quite rare. So I did what any Porsche-nut would do – ignore the voice of reason in my head and just go for it, just as I’ve done with all my previous Porsches.
When I started looking for a Panamera, I knew one thing – I wanted a beige interior. All my previous Porsches had had a black interior, so I really wanted a change of scenery so to speak and the beige makes it look much more luxurious as well. Finding one wasn’t easy, as it seems that when people started buying Panamera’s, they all kind of went with black. My ideal exterior colour would have been blue, but that was not to be – but I did manage to get my beige interior and I’m really happy I did, it looks stunning. As a bonus I was able to get one that doesn’t have any wood in the car, it just looks hideous to me. The accent color ended up being Piano black.
Equipment-wise I wasn’t looking for anything too fancy. I wanted heated seats, as I do drive in the winter too and cruise control was a must. Other than that, everything that came with, was a bonus. The one I bought, actually doesn’t have too many options and I’m happy with that – less really expensive stuff to break.
Win some, lose some
You know when everyone keeps saying that a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) is really important and if the full service history is missing you should walk away? Well, this was the first time I actually listened to that advice and it seems that it’s pretty much rubbish. The car had a full 111-point test done and all services that are in the book were carried out at official Porsche dealers, but in the end it doesn’t matter – things can still break right after you buy it and there’s nothing you can really do, as you’ve just bought a used car. There’s no warranty, so this time I got bitten. After just a few weeks of driving, the transmission started acting up. I was doing a bit of “spirited driving” when suddenly the gears kept switching up and down, lost power and I got a “Gearbox temperature too high” message, followed by a sports mode switch off and erratic behaviour in gears. Eased off the gas for a while and everything went back to normal. I then took it to the dealer, who ”re-calibrated” the PDK and for a while it seemed that it worked.
Then, one lovely morning I turned the car on and was greeted with a ”Gearbox failure” message in the dash. The only thing I could muster at that moment was a silent sigh showing my surrender to the inevitable doom that will be unleashed upon my bank account. The ”fun” part of this story is, that a large part of the PDK box was actually replaced by the dealer just before I bought the car, so it all should have been fine and dandy. Biggest problem with the PDK boxes with Porsche is, that the dealers are not allowed to fix them – if there are certain error codes, the whole tranny is replaced. Seems like a really dumb thing and if it’s under warranty, most people probably won’t even care. Yet, when you don’t have a warranty like yours truly, it’s murder on your wallet. The price I got from the dealer was pretty much one third of the car’s value. Not something I really want to pay. So I went to my trusted indie shop again who found me a used gearbox. I’m now waiting for it, so fingers crossed that it works and gets me back on the road again. Because I really-really love this car. Especially on the highway, where it’s probably the best car I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving.