UPDATE 6/17/21: This review has been updated with test results.
Porsche is more than happy to go on and on about the thousands of minute changes made to the 2021 Panamera Turbo S. The front fascia is different, the taillights now include a full-width LED strip, the V-8’s crankshaft is revised, the turbochargers are optimized, the navigation system has been recalibrated—you get the idea. But what more do you really need to know other than the fact that its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine now makes a whopping 620 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque?
This more powerful Turbo S model is a new addition to the range for 2021 and sits atop the nonhybrid side of the Panamera family tree. It has 70 more horsepower and 37 more pound-feet than the previous Panamera Turbo, although it's outgunned by the 689-hp Turbo S E-Hybrid model. But if you don't want your high-performance luxury sedan saddled with the extra weight of batteries and other hybrid hardware, the Turbo S is your ticket to a seriously quick luxury sedan.
We initially drove a bright-orange European-spec Turbo S and later tested a U.S.-spec version finished in a funky purplish Amethyst Metallic. The test results speak for themselves: How about 30 mph arriving in less than a second? Porsche claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.9 seconds, but we got to that mark in just 2.6 seconds and blitzed the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds at 127 mph. Those numbers just about match the last 630-hp and torque-rich AMG GT63 S 4-Door we tested, which did eke past the Porsche by a tenth and with a 2 mph higher trap speed. The Panamera’s top speed sits at a heady 196 mph, Porsche claims, although Dodge says a Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye will supposedly do 203 mph, so there go your bragging rights.
The Panamera Turbo S hardly feels like such a lean, mean, numbers-generating machine on the road. It's almost too effortless in the way it goes about its business. At full whack, the V-8 whispers at a maximum of 76 decibels at full throttle. This is a luxury hatchback with plush ride quality and a supremely isolated cabin—not the aural pounding provided by the GT63. Switching to Sport Plus mode quickens the responses and adds some vigor to the exhaust note, but the Panamera lacks the drama and excitement of the Mercedes-AMG E63 and the playful handling of the BMW M5 Competition, two high-performance sedans that beat the Panamera Turbo in a 2018 comparison test. But again, the numbers are impressive. We measured a stunning 1.07 g of grip around the skidpad, which not only would have been tops in our more recent performance-luxury-four-door comparison test but is the best we’ve seen out of any four-door. In that company, only the BMW M8 Competition would've beaten the Porsche's 149-foot stop from 70 mph.
Our test car was fitted with big, 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires, which are a new option for the Turbo S and perfect for the buyer who makes a beeline for the racetrack after the quarterly board meetings. All Turbo S models come standard with other performance-enhancing extras, including 48-volt active anti-roll bars, rear-axle steering, and massive carbon-ceramic brake rotors clamped by 10-piston calipers in front. The Panamera Turbo S is also available in the enticing Sport Turismo wagon body style, which is Porsche's entry in the burgeoning hot-wagon segment that also includes the AMG E63 S, Audi RS6 Avant, and Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered.
The 2021 Panamera Turbo S does starts at a heady $179,050. It'll easily crest the $200K mark once you start clicking on Porsche's incredibly long list of options. Our relatively lightly optioned test car came in just under the $200,000 mark. Extras such as a Sport Exhaust, carbon-fiber trim, adaptive cruise control, and a Premium package pushed its sticker to $199,480. It’s a good thing that ego will have few buyers selecting the $0 "Deletion of model designation," because the world of sports car needs to be warned of this Panamera.