First drive: 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS in Bahrain
Porsche recently held their international launch of the 2019 Panamera GTS and Panamera GTS Sport Turismo in Bahrain. Like the previous generation, the Panamera GTS sits between the 4S and Turbo variants, with enough options between the three to give potential buyers a variety of choices.
The Panamera GTS keeps the tradition of a V8 under the skin like the previous gen, but coupled with forced induction this time around. The turbocharged V8 4.0-litre turbo produces 460 hp and 620 Nm of torque, coupled with an 8-speed automatic “PDK” transmission. That’s about 20 hp and 70 Nm above the 4S, but still significantly lower than the Turbo variant, which gets the same powerplant. With launch control, the all-wheel-drive GTS does the 0-100 kph run in just 4.1 seconds, making it a tad faster than the 4S, with a top speed of 292 kph.
There isn’t a massive power gap between the 4S and GTS, but the GTS does offer some elements to make it more interesting. Firstly, the V8 engine offers a nice engine note, also in part thanks to the sport exhaust system which comes as standard, although we would’ve liked it to be a tad bit louder. Also, the Panamera GTS gets adaptive air suspension tuned for performance driving, dropping 10mm lower than the 4S.
The Sport Chrono package is standard as well. Switching between driving modes is a simple affair, thanks to a small dial on the steering wheel. Then there is the nice blackout trim for the exterior and ultra-cool three-piece spoiler to go with it, bummed off the Turbo variant.
Four-wheel steering is also offered on the GTS, which makes handling brilliant. Around the track, it did not feel you are driving something more than five metres long, the all-wheel-drive and all-wheel steering working in tandem to make the car go exactly where you are pointing the steering wheel.
With each passing corner around the Bahrain International Circuit, we kept pushing the Panamera GTS harder and the limits always seemed further away. The PDK transmission is still the best in the business, with the super-quick shifts making sure it is always in the right gear.
In “Sports Plus” mode is when the GTS sounds best, the sports exhaust popping and cracking while braking and downshifting and then changing into a nice growl as we accelerated out of corners.
Driving it on the highways is a different story, with interior noise kept to a minimum driving in “Comfort” mode, with the active dampers soaking up small bumps on the road to keep things smooth.
The interior is a nice place to be in, with build quality expectedly of a very high standard. The new heads-up colour display is quite vivid even in the bright desert sun. The standard Alcantara is tastefully done and everything is well-placed within reach. The only complaint is the absurd digital a/c vent controls, which is cool to play with in the beginning, but a nightmare to use while driving. The simple task of redirecting the a/c’s motorised centre vents requires using the touchscreen interface to move them electrically.
The Porsche Panamera GTS is necessary. People buy the standard Panamera 4S mainly for the luxury rather than the drive. The Turbo is insanely fast, along with an equally insane price tag. The GTS seems to find that balance of both. More than capable performance with a nice sporty exterior package, the GTS is the best pick of the bunch for most casual enthusiasts.
Photos by Marouf Hussain Chowdhury and Porsche.