Ice-cream. I love it. Nothing makes me happier than to find a new flavour when I visit the gelateria (I lead a very full life…). Sure, this tasty treat will do the same job as the others before it in delivering a quick sugar rush and making me fat. Regardless, I'll try it, and usually, it'll become my favourite. Until the next new one comes along. I'm fickle like that…
Porsche also likes nothing more than to produce different flavours of its cars. Look at the 911. There are over 20 variants of it and it is doing likewise with the Panamera.
Starting with the base Panamera, you have the 4, 4S, S, Diesel, S Hybrid, Turbo and Turbo S making eight in total. Enough, right? Wrong, because Porsche has just added another one to the line-up — the nGran Turismo Sport.
The last time I drove a Panamera, I was blown away. That 550bhp Turbo S was a heck of a super-saloon and I was mightily impressed with it. It had the ability to take you and your high-profile clients where you wanted to go, quickly and comfortably. So, where does the new GTS fit in? Though it has far fewer horses to play with (430 at 6,700rpm) it feels far more responsive, and still boasts all-wheel drive and a sporty chassis. It gets from 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 288kph, so it's certainly not lacking in that department while consuming 10.9-litres per-100km. This is the purist's Panamera.
Hiding under that muscular bonnet is a 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 — the same lump found in the 4S. However, it has been modified with a reworked air induction and hotter camshafts to up the performance by 30bhp over its sister car, while torque is up by 20Nm for a total of 520Nm. Mated to this powerplant is the seven-speed PDK. Getting the extra power down on the ground is the AWD system which makes the GTS feel solid and remarkably nimble — amazing for a car this big.
The steering feels crisp while the upgraded brakes (borrowed from the Turbo) dig in hard to bring things to a halt. In Sport Plus mode, the throttle response becomes far more direct and instantaneous. It might not feel flat-out quickest on a long straight but it's in the corners where the GTS comes into its own. Turn-in is super-sharp, while it stays totally planted at all times, no matter how heavy-handed your driving. Best of all is the way it sounds. And that's really angry. You can amplify that deep, throaty note thanks to a push of the Sound Symposer button.
It has an absolutely fabulous interior making it the Panamera that you'd want to cross continents in. Once you step inside the luxurious yet sporty cabin, you will not want to get out. Porsche has dressed it up with a lovely mixture of leather, Alcantara and carbon-fibre surfaces. It gets power-adjustable front and rear seats, a SportDesign steering wheel trimmed with carbon fibre and Alcantara (with paddle shifters) and GTS lettering embroidered on the headrests and on the ravishing red — yes red — seat belts. The floor mats too have decorative stitching as does the top of the dashboard and centre console. Lots of time and effort has clearly gone into tarting up the interior — it certainly wasn't just a case of sprinkling on some hundreds and thousands and then drizzling it with strawberry sauce. But the result is just as tasty.
This Carmine Red GTS sits 10mm lower to the ground than any other Panamera and features a more aggressive front end and side skirts not to mention plenty of high-gloss black highlights on the window trim, the headlights and the diffuser.
The matte black exhaust tips make for a nice change from the usual chrome pipes too. I like the adaptive four-way rear spoiler which automatically rises up at speeds to generate more downforce. It reminds me of KITT and his Super Pursuit mode. Riding on 20in 911 Turbo II wheels with 5mm rear-wheel spacers, it seems to have a wider stance while it's been built on a tuned chassis with a stiffer air suspension and the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).
Porsche is doing its level best to fill every gap possible. Just like ice cream, you can never have too many flavours. Now that I have had a taste of the GTS, it has become my favourite in the growing Panamera family. But, that'll probably change if or when there's another variant.