Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014
Porsche is usually associated with being a sports car brand, but with vehicles like the Cayenne and Panamera it takes a step into the world of luxury against firmly established players like Mercedes-Benz. One way for the company to poke its head above the high-class fray is by taking things further, and in the case of the Panamera Exclusive Series at the Los Angeles Auto Show, it means pushing grandeur to extreme levels.
Coming in at an absolutely eye-watering $263,900, plus $995 destination, the Panamera Exclusive starts its life as the already sumptuous Panamera Turbo S Executive with a 4.8-liter, twin-turbo V8 making 570 horsepower on an extended wheelbase. To help justify the extra $63,000 for the Exclusive, though, the model gets 20-inch black Sport Classic wheels and an interior in swaddled in Nappa leather with dark walnut and piano black trim. Rear passengers also get 10.1-inch touchscreens mounted on the back of the front seats. A set of fitted Poltrana Frau leather luggage is included with each one, as well.
The luxurious sedan earns it Exclusive moniker because just 100 of them are being made worldwide. Scroll down to read about Porsche's ultimate limousine.
We're all familiar with the succession of numbers that follow the letters GT on a hard-core Porsche 911: the GT1 that was Stuttgart's Le Mans contender in the late 90s, the GT2 that packs turbochargers but without the Turbo's all-wheel drive and excess weight, and the naturally aspirated GT3 that's the enthusiast's choice. But a GT4? That's something new, and exactly what Porsche has in store.
Spied testing in Germany once again is the upcoming GT4 version of the Porsche Cayman, set to supersede the existing GTS and take the place of the previous Cayman R at the top of Porsche's junior sports car range. This latest batch of spy shots doesn't show us much more than the last crop, but gives us a much clearer view at what promises to be the most hardcore Cayman to date.
As you can see, the Cayman GT4 packs a much more aggressive aero kit and rolling stock than any version we've seen to date. It's got a lip spoiler, big air dam and GT3-style vent in front of the hood, deep air scoops along the flanks, a set of spindly alloys packing oversized brakes, a diffuser with twin central exhaust tips around back and a rear wing that's likely to be replaced with a sleeker unit before the GT4 reaches production.
A few years ago, reports surfaced that Porsche was planning a new supercar. But the latest intel suggests that the plan has been put indefinitely on the back burner.
The project alternately referred to as 960 or 988 was put forth by CEO Matthias Müller shortly after he assumed control of the German automaker. It called for a mid-engined V8 supercar to slot in between the 911 and the 918 Spyder to take on the likes of the Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren 650S and sister-company Lamborghini's Gallardo and subsequent Huracán.
Now three years since the idea was first mooted, the vehicle has yet to materialize. According to Autocar, Porsche is putting a greater emphasis on refreshing its existing lineup. Which is probably just as well, because the mid-engined supercar would have a heck of a challenge on its hands to differentiate itself in terms of performance from the 911 GT3 and 911 Turbo, which already give the 458 and company a run for their money.
Looking at the current automotive landscape, especially from German makers, you quickly get the impression that less definitely isn't more. BMW alone offers its 3 Series platform in practically every segment possible, including the regular sedan and 4 Series Gran Coupe, which would seem to be direct competitors. Porsche might be the winner, though, with 20 different variants of the 911 listed for sale on its US website. However, some of this model madness might be reaching an end as companies begin cutting back spending or shifting money to other priorities.
According to Yahoo Finance, the offerings from the German automakers are up 25 percent over the past three years to over 200 models in Europe. The peak is expected to come around 2018 at 230 separate vehicles, according to consulting company PwC.
Amazingly, BMW, which is among the poster children for this model explosion, might be changing its tune. "I'm sure there will be points in the future where we look at certain cars and say, 'Maybe we need to think differently now,'" said head of sales Ian Robertson in an interview, according to Yahoo Finance. The statement certainly sounds shocking coming from a company rumored to have 23 front-wheel-drive vehicles all using a single platform on the way.
The prospect of Porsche building a smaller version of the Panamera has been an on-again, off-again proposition as the German automaker seems to go back and forth on the project. Last we heard, Porsche had pushed back the so-called Pajun (shorthand for Panamera Junior) until 2019 at the earliest, but we could be looking at it right here.
The automaker's everything-but-automotive division Porsche Design is working on a luxury condo complex called (simply enough) Porsche Design Tower. It's been three years in the making and will take at least another year or two to complete, but the gist of it is that the 57-floor building will include 132 apartments, each with its own en-suite garage in which the residents' cars will be parked thanks to giant elevators.
Porsche Design released a series of renderings showing what the property will look like once complete. Most of the renderings feature Porsches, of course - production models you can find in any of the brand's showrooms, like the one just 23 miles away in Coral Gables. But one of the renderings of the giant glass elevators shows something rather unusual.
The Porsche 911 GT3 is a very, very good performance car. Yes, we know this is like saying fire is hot and a shovel to the head hurts. What's different about this proclamation, then? Well, we bring up the 911 GT3's inherent goodness because our friends at Road & Track have named it their 2015 performance car of the year.
This is, our joking aside, a big accomplishment for the 911 GT3, due largely to the field of cars it beat out. There were many equally track-focused wonders in attendance, including the Ferrari 458 Speciale, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and Dodge Viper SRT TA, as well as more capable everyday vehicles, like the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, BMW M3 and Ford Mustang GT.
But it was the 475-horsepower, rear-engined track star that R&T fell for, with editor-in-chief Larry Webster calling out the Porsche's ridiculous, howling, 9,000-rpm redline, while other editors cited its phenomenal handling character.
In the world of restomods, Singer Vehicle Designs is inarguably one of our absolute favorites. The company, founded by rocker Rob Dickinson, has made its name as an obsessive constructor of vintage, built-to-order Porsche 911s with modern internals and beautiful accouterments.
Xcar has put together a lengthy interview with Dickinson, covering the source of his fascination with the 911 and his passion for automotive design, before falling into his rock-and-roll days with his band Catherine Wheel. He also covers how he got into the world of modifying Porsches, rather than just restoring them. There's much, much more in the video, though, and we promise, you won't want to miss it.
Take a look.
We'll admit it, we're really looking forward to more time with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. Compared to other high-dollar luxury coupes - we're looking at you Bentley Continental GT - it's more stylish, easily more affordable, and since it's a Mercedes, lacks the sense of fragility that comes with a more exotic name plate.
Auto Express has taken a whack at reviewing the new two-door S-Class, and for some reason, the British mag is comparing it with a Porsche Panamera. Now, while comparing the looks of an S-Class Coupe and a Panamera is a bit like holding a beauty contest between Kate Upton and Medusa, this isn't as bizarre a pair as you might think, particularly when you opt for the high-dollar S63 AMG Coupe and the Panamera Turbo S.
The two offer similar power outputs from their force-induced V8s - 577 horsepower in the Benz and 570 horsepower in the Porsche - and are even similar in terms of interior and exterior dimensions. The S-Class actually has an extra inch between the axles and is 1.2 inches longer overall (it's also about 300 pounds heavier). In the cabin, the S-Class also has a tiny bit more rear legroom, with 33.4 inches to the Panamera's 33.3.
Porsche unveiled a slew of refreshed Cayennes just a few months ago, but the base model (right) and high-performance GTS trim (above) were conspicuously absent from that list. There's no more reason to wonder about them, though, because the German brand plans to unveil both at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19.
Sitting below the Turbo in the lineup, the latest GTS still offers plenty of performance. It drops the previous version's naturally aspirated V8 in favor of a tuned version of the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 from the Cayenne S for some added oomph. The tweaks bring power up to 440 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to rocket the model to 62 miles per hour in an estimated 5.2 seconds. The bump also equates to 20 hp and 39 lb-ft more than the current S and more importantly 20 hp and 62 lb-ft more than the previous GTS, according to Porsche.
In addition to the extra muscle, Porsche also decks the GTS out with some added features. It comes with a standard sport exhaust and Porsche Active Suspension Management system with an air suspension lets the chassis sit about three-quarters of an inch lower (20 millimeters). To bring things to a halt, the high-performance models also takes its brakes from the Turbo model.
Porsche has issued a "precautionary" and voluntary safety recall affecting some 4,400 sports cars across the globe. Here in the United States, the recall includes 1,382 911, Boxster convertibles and Cayman coupes, all of which are from model years 2014 and 2015.
Porsche will be replacing the lock bracket for the front cargo area (the frunk) after internal testing revealed that, while the vehicles meet "strength requirements," specific parts might not meet the company's quality standards throughout the vehicle's life. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries.
Owners of the affected cars will be notified within 60 days and will need to report to a nearby dealer for a free repair, which should take about 30 minutes.