2013 Porsche Panamera GTS - front three-quarter view, Carmine Red

We've already driven the Porsche Panamera GTS in Europe in a track environment, but haven't had the chance to talk about this car after driving it in on U.S. roads yet. I've driven a few different Panamera variants since the five-door hatchback was first introduced for 2010, but this all-wheel-drive Carmine Red GTS is my favorite variant thus far. It just strikes the right balance of power and poise with its amazingly well-sorted suspension (the GTS rides 10 millimeters lower than lesser models and comes standard with air suspension and Porsche Active Stability Management). The naturally aspirated V8 makes a great noise and with 430 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, and it has plenty of motivation yet actually doesn't feel absurdly overpowered.

Driving Notes
  • The automatic rear wing is a complex multi-piece affair that unfurls outward and then laterally. It's a nice piece of engineering and undoubtedly helps with downforce, but with how often it deploys and hides away (it opens and closes at around 60 miles per hour), I can't help but wonder how many duty cycles it will endure before it needs adjustment or repair. It's not the prettiest thing when extended, either.
  • I've driven PDK-equipped Porsches before – even Panameras – but this is the best iteration of this seven-speed dual clutch yet. It's near seamless, with improved slow-speed tractability. There were still a few occasions when PDK locked out downshifts into high revs, but it was generally very obedient. I'm not sure if it's a range-wide software update for 2013 or whether the tuning is specific to GTS, but this might be the best DCT on the market.
  • A few years ago, Porsche changed its keys to appear like miniaturized silhouettes of the model you're driving, and the keys can even be color-coded to your car's paint. It's a costly flourish ($335), but hey, your valet will thank you.
  • Thanks to its hatchback configuration, the Panamera is surprisingly useful, but the aggressively raked backlight can distort one's rear view somewhat. Smart move to have two buttons for the power close, though – one that just closes it, and the other that locks the whole car.
  • How glad am I that the buzzkill start-stop feature can be defeated once and for all without resorting to fuse-pulling or reprogramming?
  • Thumb the button to awaken the quad-tipped exhaust and you'll be greeted with a wonderful roar from the quick-revving 4.8-liter V8. The sound is so good I still wished for more of it, but that could've been because my car was fitted with $1,240 in soundproof/heat-resistant glass. How about an additional stage, Porsche?