Porsche Panamera Development
The Panamera made its official debut in April at this year's Shanghai Motor Show, after nearly three years of spy shots and heavily disguised prototype photos began showing up on the Internet.
The car is built on an all-new platform that shares some components with the Cayenne SUV, including similar engines. The long-wheelbase sedan features two seats up front and two full-sized seats in the rear, with plenty of trunk space.
As it's only the fourth model in Porsche's current lineup, the manufacturer went through great pains to make it more than just an ordinary sedan. What they wanted was a true "sports car for four," said Gary Fong, a spokesman for Porsche Cars North America.
Fong said the company expects the Panamera to appeal to existing Porsche loyalists -- people who already own Porsche Boxsters or 911s -- but need a more practical car to fill out their garage. The same kind of person is also a Cayenne buyer, so Porsche hopes the sedan will achieve similar success as their SUV.
"We believe this car will do much of the same [as the Cayenne]," Fong said. "It allows the owner to share the sports car experience with three others."
So, Porsche needs a sedan to broaden their appeal beyond sports cars. But why would one of the world's foremost performance car companies need to build a hybrid?
Again, Fong says it's about ensuring that Porsche fans can have the cars they want -- like more practical, eco-friendly models -- without having to buy from another automaker.
"We can't survive by being a niche manufacturer," Fong said. In addition, the money generated from making cars with more mass appeal -- like the Cayenne -- allows Porsche to do what it does best: build performance machines like the 911 GT3 and compete in auto racing.
So now we know what role the Panamera Hybrid will play in Porsche's lineup, but in the next section, we'll look at what makes it tick. Can a four-door Porsche live up to the brand's go-fast reputation?