The center of the Panamera's body structure is steel, helping with rigidity, while the front frame sections, front double-wishbone suspension components, rear subframe and multilink suspension, hood, doors and hatch are aluminum, which reduces excess weight. In all, the base Panamera weighs in at just 3,880 pounds--well under the Maserati Quattroporte or Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG--and Porsche has made a point to reduce weight at extreme ends of the chassis to give excellent handling characteristics.
Six models are available: base, S, Hybrid, Turbo and Turbo S. The hybrid is only available as rear-wheel drive and the Turbo models are only available as all-wheel drive.
The base models are powered by a 300-hp 3.6L V6. The S and 4S are powered by Porsche's 32-valve 4.8L V8, which makes 400 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. The new hybrid Panamera combines a 3.0L supercharged V6 and electric an electric motor to propel it. The Turbo makes 500 horses, which Porsche claims allows it to sprint to 60 in just 4 seconds flat on its way to a 188 mph top speed. The new-for-2012 Turbo S has the same engine, but tuned to produce 50 more horses and 37 more lb-feet of torque.
All Panameras receive a 7-speed automatic, the only transmission available for 2012. All models also get a stop-start system, which stops the engine when the car comes to a complete stop to save fuel. Once the brake is released, the engine is automatically restarted. This system can be manually deactivated, if desired.
An available air suspension system allows control of the car's spring rate with the flip of a switch, automatically lowering the car's ride height. Optional Dynamic Chassis Control de-couples the chassis' stabilizer bars when running in a straight line to increase ride quality, then automatically reengages them in the corners for increased control. Several levels are selectable with a switch mounted on the dash. Porsche also offers a ceramic brake upgrade (PCCB), which reduces unsprung weight while also significantly improving braking performance.
The Panamera's interior features a liberal use of woodgrain, leather and brushed aluminum. The louvers on the air vents, the sunvisors, the interior mirror and front and rear consoles all available in leather trim. 18-way adjustable leather front seats and 8-way adjustable rears are standard, as well as a host of power options.
The Panamera is available for customization through Porsche's Exclusive & Tequipment service, offering an array of high-end options including a rear seat cooling box in the center console, which keeps drinks chilled and includes Porsche-crested glasses.
Rear seat entertainment is also available, which includes dual 7-inch flatscreen monitors mounted in the front seats' headrests, as well as individual DVD players and cordless headphones. Each side comes with a USB interface as well as several AV inputs.