2011 Porsche Panamera 4S Review: The Sedan That Doubles as a Family Car

The 2011 Porsche Panamera 4S Doubles as a Family Car – Diapers Not Included

Though not a ‘family car,’ despite being a sedan, the 2011 Porsche Panamera 4S served as our primary family vessel during my week long test drive. Passenger seat, Mom. Rear seat, baby in his baby seat. Rear boot? Our parking lot diaper station. Geared more towards the Executive types, with rear pop-out ash trays and all, my intentions with the Panamera 4S were less Wall Street and more Mom Show. And it served us (i.e. Dad) well. Plus the 4S, denoting an all-wheel drive system, added that extra security.

My son getting the Panamera 4S treatment:

2011 Porsche Panamera 4S Review2011 Porsche Panamera 4S Review

Porsche introduced their first, proper saloon last year for the 2010 year with the Panamera in V8 form, including the Panamera S and the Panamera Turbo. I had the chance to review them both, you can read about them here: S and Turbo.

Panamera Price and Models (CAD $)

For 2011, Porsche has added several more Panameras to the stable including more affordable V6 versions. Here’s a breakdown, including starting price point (prices in CAD, MSRP) and engine layout/cylinders:

Panamera – $86,600 V6

Panamera S – 103,200 V8

Panamera 4 – 91,800 V6

Panamera 4S – 108,900 V6

Panamera S Hybrid – 108,700 V6

Panamera Turbo – 156,300 V8

Panamera Turbo S – 198,100 V8

Under the hood: 300-hp 3.6L V6

The Panamera 4S is powered by a 3.6-litre V6, making 300-hp. Certainly a far cry from the insane 500-hp 4.6-litre V8 in the Turbo, but Porsche has a magical way extracting optimal performance out of their non-turbo engines. And frankly, considering the enormous price difference between the two, I’d have no problem choosing the Panamera 4S V6–the 4S launches off the line brilliantly and creates consistent, clean power across the entire rpm range. Overall, super refined with more than adequate power.  The term ‘entry-level’ in the Porsche realm is probably an oxymoron.

On the road: impressions

The ride is equally brilliant. Especially with the PASM/Air Suspension upgrade for $4550 with a Sport and Sport Plus mode for a more spirited, stiffer drive. 20-inch Panamera Sport wheels at $4220 in my Panamera replace the standard 18-inch rims. The 7-speed double-clutch PDK transmission is standard, offering both manual gearshift and automatic options. For an extra $2020 (an option on all non-turbo models), this Panamera 4S also found the Sport Chrono Package Plus, essentially enhancing the Panamera experience just a little more with sportier tuning attributes and engine setup. A no-brainer upgrade at this price.

Cabin features

Inside, the cabin feels wide and cozy. My wife compares the experience to a living room sofa, which I think is a very good thing. Brushed aluminum is found throughout, an extra $1360. 8-way power adjustable front seats with driver memory come standard; add heated seats, both front and rear, for $1440 as found here. While there is no rear camera to assist in parking, the Park Assist feature (an audible beeping system gauging distance proximity to near by objects, both front and rear) is absolutely a must, especially when attempting to parallel park the wide Panamera. But its an extra $820…not a whole lot when you’re playing in the $100k arena, but I think Park Assist should be standard in a sedan like this.

2011 Porsche Panamera 4S Review

Cabin technology and features

Porsche Communications Management (PCM) is the central control for audio, navigation, and communications. It’s a great system, but as Porsche updated their interiors recently (as per the Panamera, now also found in the Cayenne), the PCM interface could probably use a refresher also; scrolling through the menus can be laborious, especially when you plug in your iPod. On the flip side, the gauge cluster includes a round screen display with driver-excluslive info including navigation, tire pressure info, audio options, fuel milage data, to name a few…absolutely awesome feature, easy to scroll through, and above all, front and centre so you can keep your eye on the road. In this Panamera 4S, this gauge control is via a lever on the steering column just below the wiper lever, opposed to the steering wheel control found on other models; the latter works great, but I value the clean, no-button wheel idea as well.

Priced at $108,900 CAD MSRP, with an extra $1080 for this stunning Ruby Red metallic paint, my 2011 Panamera 4S rings in at $113,175 total including all options, the $1115 destination charge/$100 AC tax (excluding other taxes). While the V8 Panamera is truly outrageous, this AWD V6 version is absolutely worthy, part of the entry-level V6s likely be the volume Panamera sellers.

With such a huge gap in price between the V8 and V6, I’d strongly consider the capable V6, pocket the extra $50k or so and purchase something else. Like maybe a minivan. Maybe not.

Learn more – Porsche Panamera 4S

Shooting motors professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has been published in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. He's a writer, editor at TractionLife.com, AJAC member, and full-time digital marketer at Traction Media working with national brands. Find him traveling, spending time with his kids and family. Or golfing, badly.