Porsche is gearing up to introduce its second-generation Panamera sedan in the first quarter next year with a fresh design, new engines and redeveloped chassis.

At more than 5m, the second generation is longer and slightly taller than the first, with the ­wheelbase stretched for better ­interior space. To minimise weight, it makes more extensive use of ­aluminium.

After criticism that the original design was unappealing, Porsche has redrawn the Panamera, ­although its inspiration remains the 911, the brand’s evergreen sports car. The rear in particular echoes the 911, with its wraparound tail-lights.

An additional station wagon variant dubbed the Sport Turismo will debut at the Geneva motor show in March and reach showrooms later in the year.

All the petrol engines have been downsized, with turbocharged 3.0-litre and 2.9-litre V6s from the parent Volkswagen group in place of the previous 3.6, and a new Porsche-developed 4.0-litre turbo V8 replacing the 4.8. Despite this, outputs rise and efficiency improves.

In the turbo model the new V8 produces 404kW, flinging it to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 306km/h. However, fuel use drops by more than a litre for every 100km thanks to a system that deactivates half its ­cylinders when cruising. This technology, already in widespread use elsewhere, makes its Porsche debut in the Panamera.

A 243kW 2.9-litre V6 is fitted to the rear-wheel drive base model and the 4, the entry-level all-wheel drive. It’s also fitted to the E-Hybrid in combination with a 100kW electric motor. A different 2.9-litre V6 with 324kW powers the 4S. All models employ an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The only diesel is a 310kW 4.0-litre V8 capable of zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds while consuming just 6.8 litres of fuel per 100km. At $312,100, the 4S diesel sits below the top-spec turbo although a V6 diesel, previously one of the most affordable variants, is an obvious potential addition for later.

The interior of the Porsche Panamera.
The interior of the Porsche Panamera.

Pricing has been realigned, with the entry-model Panamera now almost $6k higher at $210,000 and smaller increases for the 4 and 4S models. However, Porsche has taken more than $6k out of the turbo, which now tops the line-up at $376,900, while the sole plug-in hybrid is almost $43k easier on the wallet, at $242,600.

Porsche says it has “perfected” its aluminium chassis and raised equipment levels, with adaptive air suspension, intelligent cruise control, LED headlights, 19-inch ­alloys and a panoramic roof all standard. Options include a new rear-axle steering system, sports exhaust and ceramic brakes.

Higher grade models debut control software that integrates all the dynamic systems for a more accomplished result. With ­optional torque vectoring and electromechanical stabilisers fitted, the Panamera is in a dynamic class of its own, Porsche says.

Chief among the cabin revisions is the latest infotainment system, which includes digital radio and Apple Airplay, combined with completely redesigned switchgear comprising black panel surfaces and interactive displays.

Porsche has averaged more than 20,000 Panamera sales a year since 2009, mainly to China and the US, against a total of just 534 to Australia. But it expects ­demand to rise this time.

“It looks like a four-door 911 and now has the world’s best ­interior,” says Porsche Australia spokesman Paul Ellis.

“We’ll certainly sell more than before if early indications are anything to go by.”

– http://www.theaustralian.com.au