Having just the right amount of power makes the 4S the sweetest model in the new Panamera lineup.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Having just the right amount of power makes the 4S the sweetest model in the new Panamera lineup.
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ASK a mod enthusiast how much horsepower would be enough for a car, and he will reply, “There’s no such thing as too much”.

I can see why that makes sense from their point of view.

However, having too many ponies without a racetrack to unleash them on is actually a bad thing. Too much power can make a car undriveable on normal roads and in regular traffic conditions.

Having too little power is also undesirable. Not having enough ponies makes overtaking dangerous. It could also worsen fuel economy, since the engine has to struggle to get the car up to speed.

I’ve never driven an underpowered Porsche. Even entry-level models deliver more performance than what most drivers can utilise.

Like most enthusiasts, however, I won’t say no to more power, especially in a car like the Panamera, which weighs 1.8 tonnes.

However, having driven the Panamera, 4S, 4 E-Hybrid and Turbo models, I actually found the 4S model to be my favourite.

The Panamera has 330bhp and an engine that loves to be revved, but I didn’t enjoy needing to push it all the time.

The 4 E-Hybrid, despite its strong performance, weighs a rather hefty 2.1 tonnes. And the Turbo, although blisteringly quick, will feel very hemmed-in, especially in Singapore.

The Panamera 4S, on the other hand, feels just right.

I spent an afternoon driving the 4S around the hilly roads surrounding Sun Moon Lake, and found it difficult to find fault with the car’s performance.

Like the base Panamera, the 4S is also powered by a turbocharged V6. But it has two turbochargers instead of one, and its motor produces 440bhp and 550Nm – or 110bhp and 100Nm more than the Panamera.

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Naturally, the 4S is quicker than its base sibling from zero to 100km/h, taking 4.4 seconds instead of 5.7 seconds.

The 4S has more than enough power, but more importantly, delivers it in a linear and useable manner. This means you can crank up the revs without the car immediately reaching speeds that will have you behind bars.

Apart from this fastback’s straight-line speed, what impressed me even more was how it belied its size and danced around corners.

Apart from being curvy, those aforementioned hilly roads are also relatively narrow, with many leading to blind corners.

But in the 4S, I never felt like I was behind the wheel of a car that was five metres long and weighing more than 1.8 tonnes.

Indeed, conquering one bend after another was immensely satisfying. Accompanied by a rapid-shifting 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a rorty exhaust, I charged into one bend after another, with the 4S requiring nothing more than wrist-flicks to tuck its nose into every turn.

What I did find fault with was the fact that much of the car’s nimbleness, along with its wonderful tailpipe music, came from the optional equipment, which included Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control ($19.1k), Rearaxle Steering ($7.2k) and Sports Exhaust ($12.5k).

I’m told that Singapore-bound units will have air suspension as standard. That’s great, but really, it’s those optional features which help the Panamera 4S realise its full handling potential.

Some might say that $38k of options is peanuts compared to the car’s price tag, which is already over $540,000.

Others may opine that a car costing as much as an HDB executive flat should already have everything short of the kitchen sink inside it.

Well, it doesn’t matter which side of the argument you’re on.

If you want a Panamera that’s spot on, it has to be the 4S.

With extra trimmings, please.
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