The Porsche Panamera GTS has long been the best-balanced four-door sports car in the German carmaker’s lineup. Sleek, fast, great to drive, and relatively affordable, the Panamera GTS was the easy enthusiast’s choice if you were in the market for a family-friendly Porsche performance car. But with the introduction of the electric Porsche Taycan sedan in 2020, the Panamera was no longer the only game in town when it came to family fastbacks. The updated for 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS rights the ship somewhat, but the question remains—is it still the sweet spot in Porsche’s sedan lineup?
The latest Panamera GTS may not look drastically different from the 2020 model, but it’s part of an extensive refresh for the line that purges the Panamera Turbo and includes upgraded E-Hybrid models. Under the hood, the 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 gets a 20-pony boost and more aggressive throttle calibration, bringing power up to 473 hp, while torque remains flat at 457 lb-ft. Power routes through a Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetreibe (PDK) eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and into an all-wheel-drive system. The Panamera GTS also comes standard with Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM), firmer dampers and a lower ride height than other Panameras, plus a sport exhaust system and a few unique visual touches.
Our test car was also equipped with a grab bag of extra Porsche performance acronyms, like Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB; a nearly $9,000 option), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport with Porsche Torque Vectoring + (PDCC Sport with PTV+), and rear-axle steering, which Porsche doesn’t seem to have come up with a clever acronym for yet. The base price for our 2021 Panamera GTS tester was $130,650; lightly optioned, it stickered for $152,680. The 2022 Panamera GTS is identical to the 2021 model we tested, save for its higher base price ($132,050) and minor paint color changes—Mamba Green Metallic, as seen on our test car, is no longer available. An otherwise identically spec’d 2022 Panamera GTS would sticker for $154,080.
Right on Track
At the track, the 20-hp boost gave the 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS a leg up on its predecessor and lets it just barely hang with the last Porsche Taycan 4S we tested—a 562-hp electric sedan that, when comparably equipped compared to the Panamera GTS, stickers for about $132,000. The new Panamera GTS zipped from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and on through the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds at 115.9 mph. That’s a tenth of a second quicker than the pre-refresh Panamera GTS both to 60 and through the quarter mile. It’s also two-tenths quicker to 60 mph than the Taycan 4S, but it’s ultimately slower through the quarter as the Taycan 4S runs down the dragstrip in 11.6 seconds at 121.9 mph.
The Panamera and Taycan 4S traded blows in our braking and handling tests, too. The Taycan is quicker around the figure eight, lapping the course in 23.6 seconds at 0.84 g average while the new Panamera GTS does the same in 23.7 seconds at 0.86 g average. The Panamera, aided by PCCB and a weight advantage, stops from 60 mph in just 104 feet, while the nearly 500-pound-heavier Taycan (also equipped with PCCB) needed 107 feet.
It’s worth pointing out here that Porsche just released the new 2022 Taycan GTS. It has 590 hp, performance-handling upgrades, and is priced in line with the Panamera GTS. We haven’t track-tested it yet, but Porsche claims 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds for the new Taycan variant. Porsche’s estimates are typically conservative; we suspect it’ll be closer to 3.2 seconds in the real world.
Speaking of, out in the real world the 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS is a treat. It’s the type of car you look for an excuse to drive, purposefully forgetting an item at the grocery store so you can take the long way back to pick it up. As much as we love the effortless thrust of the Taycan’s permanent-magnet motors, engines like the Panamera’s twin-turbo V-8 are going to make us miss internal combustion. The GTS is brutal off the line, with a big, flat torque curve and a pleasing bark that’s impossible not to love. Its PDK is the transmission nearly perfected, never shifting too early nor too late. The Panamera GTS may not be the quickest Panamera on the road, but it’s certainly the most fun.
The Panamera GTS handles exceptionally well, too. Grip is phenomenal, almost immediately encouraging systems-off degeneracy. Despite its all-wheel-drive system, the well-balanced Porsche feels like a rear-drive car, allowing for big, controllable slides, the four-wheel steer and PTV working in tandem to keep the nose pointed in the right direction. The Panamera GTS is one of the best sport sedans—er, hatchbacks—on the road. Its steering is beautifully light and linear, its mechanical grip insane, and its body control faultless. The Panamera GTS is less a car and more an extension of the driver’s body.
Still King, for Now
The Porsche Panamera GTS used to be the no-brainer option when it came to Stuttgart’s four-door performance cars, but the abilities of cars like the Taycan 4S—and now Taycan GTS—increasingly make the Panamera redundant. Reading the writing on the wall, while the Panamera may not necessarily be long for this world, it sure looks like it won’t go out with a bang.
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