We take the latest Porsche Panamera for a spin at the MoD’s tank

The last time I drove a Porsche Panamera I had £3.3million in gold bullion stashed in the boot. 

I was taking part in an audacious run across London from a secret location to a vault in Hatton Gardens carrying a total of £10million in January 2018.

Sadly no gold was involved when test-driving two new models in latest Porsche Panamera line up – which has just been refreshed as part of a second-generation facelift.

But this time I had something far heavier than gold to contend with – tanks. 

Porsche's new family tank: The Panamera has had a mid-life facelift with new engines and a tweaked design. We've taken to the wheel at the Ministry of Defence's tank testing grounds

Porsche's new family tank: The Panamera has had a mid-life facelift with new engines and a tweaked design. We've taken to the wheel at the Ministry of Defence's tank testing grounds

Porsche’s new family tank: The Panamera has had a mid-life facelift with new engines and a tweaked design. We’ve taken to the wheel at the Ministry of Defence’s tank testing grounds

Sinking into the comfortable and supportive sports seats, my test driving route in the luxury German sports tourer took me around the Ministry of Defence’s tank proving grounds and military firing range on Salisbury Plain, a stone’s throw from ancient Stone Henge in Wiltshire.

There is a tenuous but important link to the Panamera here, though. 

Porsche’s founder Ferdinand Porsche, having risen to fame, or infamy, designing the bug-like Volkswagen – Hitler’s ‘People’s Car’ – in the late 1930s then spent the war years designing tanks and heavy armour, including a vast machine ironically called ‘Maus’ (or ‘Mouse’) for the Third Reich, for which he subsequently served a bit of time behind bars after Germany’s eventual defeat.

The latest heavyweight from Porsche is a facelifited version of the second-gen Panamera that’s been on sale since 2018.

The brand’s first executive four-door car hit the market in 2009, and with more than 10,000 sold in the UK alone has been a hit among fans of the 911 who need some extra space for the family. 

Gunning for the executive car market: We've driven two variants of the new Panamera, including the e-Hybrid model

Gunning for the executive car market: We've driven two variants of the new Panamera, including the e-Hybrid model

Gunning for the executive car market: We’ve driven two variants of the new Panamera, including the e-Hybrid model

Daily Mail motoring editor Ray Massey poses with one of the test cars before his first drive in the UK

Daily Mail motoring editor Ray Massey poses with one of the test cars before his first drive in the UK

Daily Mail motoring editor Ray Massey poses with one of the test cars before his first drive in the UK

Ray said the Panamera feels exceptionally big on the road, but said it was perhaps also down to the fact the launch cars were left-hand-drive models on German plates, driven in the UK

Ray said the Panamera feels exceptionally big on the road, but said it was perhaps also down to the fact the launch cars were left-hand-drive models on German plates, driven in the UK

Ray said the Panamera feels exceptionally big on the road, but said it was perhaps also down to the fact the launch cars were left-hand-drive models on German plates, driven in the UK

Prices for the updated Panamera range from £69,860 for the base level Panamera (the only one with rear-wheel drive, the rest have all-wheel drive) up to £137,760 for the top of the range Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo.

The Panamera is effectively a svelte and coupe like estate car. It also feels a very wide car. At the wheel of a left-hand-drive car on German plates on UK roads, it perhaps added to that sense of scale. 

About a third of UK Panamera buyers choose the ‘Sport Turismo’ estate body style which adds just over £2,000 to the price.

I drove two new models – the brutally efficient and rather beastly Turbo S (from £135,610) and the greener, leaner and – to my senses – more  civilised 4S E-Hybrid (from £101,690). Both were fitted with the enhancing Sport Chrono package.

The range-topping Turbo S’s meaty 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo engine develops a mighty 630 horsepower – an increase of 80 horsepower over the outgoing model – linked to a deft 8-speed double-clutch automatic gear-box.

The latest heavyweight from Porsche is a facelifited version of the second-gen Panamera that's been on sale since 2018

The latest heavyweight from Porsche is a facelifited version of the second-gen Panamera that's been on sale since 2018

The latest heavyweight from Porsche is a facelifited version of the second-gen Panamera that’s been on sale since 2018

The brand's first executive four-door car hit the market in 2009, and with more than 10,000 sold in the UK alone has been a hit among fans of the 911 who need some extra space for the family

The brand's first executive four-door car hit the market in 2009, and with more than 10,000 sold in the UK alone has been a hit among fans of the 911 who need some extra space for the family

The brand’s first executive four-door car hit the market in 2009, and with more than 10,000 sold in the UK alone has been a hit among fans of the 911 who need some extra space for the family

The range-topping Turbo S¿s meaty 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo engine develops a mighty 630 horsepower ¿ an increase of 80 horsepower over the outgoing model - linked to a deft 8-speed double-clutch automatic gear-box

The range-topping Turbo S¿s meaty 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo engine develops a mighty 630 horsepower ¿ an increase of 80 horsepower over the outgoing model - linked to a deft 8-speed double-clutch automatic gear-box

The range-topping Turbo S’s meaty 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo engine develops a mighty 630 horsepower – an increase of 80 horsepower over the outgoing model – linked to a deft 8-speed double-clutch automatic gear-box

That enables it to accelerate from rest to 62mph in just 3.1 seconds in ‘Sport Plus’ mode – and don’t you just feel it. It’s a beast. It exudes lithe and powerful performance yet doesn’t overwhelm. But the power is palpable.

Top speed, if you dare, is 196mph (shall we call it 200mph with a fair wind) where permitted, such as de-restricted German Autobahns.

Furthermore, it can sprint from 0 to 100mph in just 7.2 seconds and to 124mph in 11.2 seconds. That should be enough to outrun a British Challenger 2 tank, though I’m not sure I’d want to put its laser-lock gun-turret to the test.

The engine has been improved and upgraded with new fuel injectors, tweaked turbochargers and an modified exhaust and silencer system.

Visually, the front apron has been given large air inlet openings, while those trailing in its wake will get the benefit of seeing a new rear light strip across the back of the vehicle. To improve stopping power the brakes are 10mm greater in diameter. 

UK sales of the Panamera Turbo and Turbo S will represent around 15 per cent of the total.

The Panamera is aimed at Porsche fans who have families and their Boxster, Cayman or 911 will no longer suffice

The Panamera is aimed at Porsche fans who have families and their Boxster, Cayman or 911 will no longer suffice

The Panamera is aimed at Porsche fans who have families and their Boxster, Cayman or 911 will no longer suffice 

Boot space with the seats up is 467 litres
With the rear backrests flat the carrying capacity expands to 1,306 litres
Slide me

Boot space with the seats up is 467 litres, though with the rear backrests flat expands to 1,306 litres. The e-Hybrid has slightly less space due to the battery and electric motor arrangement

Switching to the petrol-electric 4S E-hybrid I instantly experienced the difference. It is fast and agile, but felt more mannered, fettled and sophisticated.

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo-charged 440 horsepower petrol engine with a linked to 136 horsepower electric motor integrated into the car’s eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. 

That gives a useable combined power is 560 horsepower, allowing for some leakage as it’s not a straight ‘a plus b’ performance calculation.

This allows it to sprint from rest to 62mph in 3.7 seconds up to a top speed of 185mph.

Acceleration from 0 to 100mph takes 8.6 seconds, and up to 124mph in 13.6 seconds.

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo-charged 440 horsepower petrol engine with a linked to 136 horsepower electric motor integrated into the car¿s eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo-charged 440 horsepower petrol engine with a linked to 136 horsepower electric motor integrated into the car¿s eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo-charged 440 horsepower petrol engine with a linked to 136 horsepower electric motor integrated into the car’s eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission

It has a total of 560 horsepower, allowing for some leakage as it's not a straight 'a plus b' performance calculation

It has a total of 560 horsepower, allowing for some leakage as it's not a straight 'a plus b' performance calculation

It has a total of 560 horsepower, allowing for some leakage as it’s not a straight ‘a plus b’ performance calculation

Battery capacity has been increased and there are six driving modes: E-Power, Hybrid Auro, E-Hold, E-Charge, Sport and Sport Plus.

It has an all-electric range of up to 34 miles (up 30 per cent) and an electric-only top speed of up to 87mph.

Official fuel economy figures for the hybrid range between 94.2mpg to 128.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of between 51g/km to 67g/km.

The new high voltage battery takes 2.6 hours to charge on a 7.2kW charger, and 4.8 hours on a 3.6 kW charger.

The remaining Panamera 4 costs from £72,890 and the GTS from £107,180.

The hybrid can sprint from rest to 62mph in 3.7 seconds up to a top speed of 185mph. Acceleration from 0 to 100mph takes 8.6 seconds, and up to 124mph in 13.6 seconds

The hybrid can sprint from rest to 62mph in 3.7 seconds up to a top speed of 185mph. Acceleration from 0 to 100mph takes 8.6 seconds, and up to 124mph in 13.6 seconds

The hybrid can sprint from rest to 62mph in 3.7 seconds up to a top speed of 185mph. Acceleration from 0 to 100mph takes 8.6 seconds, and up to 124mph in 13.6 seconds

The new high voltage battery takes 2.6 hours to charge on a 7.2kW charger, and 4.8 hours on a 3.6 kW charger

The new high voltage battery takes 2.6 hours to charge on a 7.2kW charger, and 4.8 hours on a 3.6 kW charger

The new high voltage battery takes 2.6 hours to charge on a 7.2kW charger, and 4.8 hours on a 3.6 kW charger

Though Porsche has its headquarters in Stuttgart, in the South West of Germany, the Panamera is built at its Leipzig plant in former Eastern Germany.

Given the choice I’d personally go for the hybrid as I felt it easier to live with day to day while having fun on high days and holidays. But that’s me.

However, if you fancy the full-fat, no holds barred carnivorous flavour, the purists will plump for the beefier Turbo S.

Porsche Panamera: Will it fit in my garage? 

Price range: £69,860 to £137, 760

Length: 5,049mm

Width: 1,937mm

Width (inc mirrors): 2,165mm

Height: 1,423mm

Wheelbase: 2,950mm

Doors: 4

Porsche Panamera Turbo S

Price: £135,610

Engine: 4.0 litre V8 twin-turbo.

Power: 630 Horse power (PS)

Transmission: eight-speed dual clutch automatic

0-62mph: 3.1 seconds

0-100mph: 7.2 seconds

0-124mph: 11.2 seconds

Top speed: 196mph

Fuel economy: 21.2 to 22.1mpg

CO2 emissions: 289 to 302g/km

Unladen weight: 2,155kg

Fuel tank: 90 litres

Boot space: 467 litres

Boot space(with rear seats folded): 1,306 litres

Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

Price: £101,690 

Engine: 2.9 litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine & electric motor

Total power: 560 horse-power (PS)

Transmission: eight-speed dual clutch automatic

0-62mph: 3.7 seconds

0-100mph: 8.6 seconds

0-124mph: 13.6 seconds.

Top speed: 185mph

Electric top speed: 87mph

All-electric range: Up to 34 miles (up 30 per cent)

Battery charging time: 2.6 hours to 4.8 hours

Fuel economy: 94.2 to 128.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 51g/km to 67g/km

Unladen weight: 2,300kg

Fuel tank: 80 litres

Boot space: 403 litres

Boot space (with rear seats folded): 1,242 litres

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