All of that was true of the pre-facelift version, mind you. What the updated 2021-model-year car does, perhaps particularly effectively but not exclusively well in GTS form, is tighten up on close body control and vertical composure just a little bit. The car’s mass is kept in a more consistent and assured sense of contact with the road surface over bigger bumps and crests taken at speed. A new layer of weight and feel is also apparent about the car’s steering, which gives you the faith to probe a little bit at the limits of the potential of a chassis which would seem to have it all to do, and yet really doesn’t seem to struggle to change direction, maintain level control and generate abundant grip and traction in an appealingly natural, really easy and plainly athletic way.
This car can be kept within the markings of a fairly narrow cross-country road so easily. It resists roll superbly well during harder and tighter cornering, but doesn’t resort to clamping down on its outside contact patches to do so, and doesn’t lose its first-rate balance of grip in the process. It’s a big, fast, sophisticated modern car, but still a natural-feeling one to drive. If you want to take it easy, there is all the ride refinement of a luxury GT to enjoy in the right driving mode, but when you’ve got ground to make up quickly there is surprising precision, ever-ready poise and plenty of driver engagement to tap into.
That all goes for a car on the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres that Porsche has just homologated for the Panamera. The GTS’ tyres have a slightly narrower section on the rear axle than those of the Turbo S and the forthcoming new Turbo S E-Hybrid; and if back-to-back circuit driving (which wasn’t possible on the launch) proves that a factor in giving the GTS an even sweeter chassis balance at the limit than the Turbo S, I wouldn’t be surprised. If you want even more dry weather grip and tactile feel from your car, however, there’s now Michelin Cup 2 rubber on the Panamera’s options list for the first time. It isn’t exclusively available on the GTS and Turbo S, but you’d imagine those will be the derivatives with the greatest uptake.
And what of that recalibrated V8? Well, it’s certainly got potency to spare during most road driving. It doesn’t rip through the middle of the tacho on full power quite like the Turbo S’s engine, making you think more about selecting the right gear for what you’re about to do – which, if anything, probably only makes it more involving to interact with.
To me, it didn’t feel like an ‘atmo’ V8 so much as a massaged turbo, although I liked the way it kept working until 6000rpm and beyond. I also reckon Porsche probably had room to make it noisier and fruitier-sounding still, without quite taking it to embarrassing levels. Because honestly if the GTS is more vocal than a Turbo S with the same exhaust I couldn’t easily detect as much.