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Shanghai show: Porsche to share limo platform

Versatile: The Porsche Panamera's G1 platform may turn up under cars from other brands.

Porsche’s all-new Panamera won’t ride on an exclusive platform for long

Porsche logo21 Apr 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY in SHANGHAI

PORSCHE says its all-new Panamera is the product of one of its most intensive – and expensive – model development programs, but its newly developed platform is likely to be shared by other new models in the Volkswagen and Audi brands it now controls.

Asked if he ruled out the prospect of the four-door Panamera’s new underpinnings being shared by Volkswagen Group, Porsche AG executive vice-president – research and development Wolfgang Durheimer said: “No. I think if we look into our common future together with Volkswagen this platform could be checked out and used for other products as well.” Mr Durheimer told GoAuto the four-door Panamera, revealed publicly for the first time at this week’s Shanghai motor show in China, was underpinned by an all-new Porsche-designed “clean-sheet” platform codenamed G1.

Draped in Porsche’s first four-door bodyshell, he dismissed speculation that it would be used as the basis of the second-generation Cayenne SUV due (with Porsche’s first hybrid drive system) in 2010.

He said the Panamera was not designed to tow 3500kg like the Cayenne must, but other possibilities for the brand-new rear/all-wheel-drive chassis architecture include models from Bentley, Lamborghini or even Audi’s upcoming A7 Sportback, which was expected to have employed the A6 chassis.

Asked if further body style derivatives of the Panamera would be developed, such as an estate/wagon or 911-style Targa version, Mr Durheimer suggested the Panamera model family may be extended beyond the four-door ‘coupe’ that goes on sale in Australia in October.

“For the time being this is the Panamera and there are no other design alternatives around yet,” said the chief Porsche engineer.

25 center imageMore than four years in the making, at a cost of more than €1 billion, the Panamera is claimed to create a new market segment by combining the comfort and accommodation of a full-size luxury sedan with the performance and dynamics of a sportscar.

Billed as Porsche’s first ever sedan – even though, technically speaking, it is a hatchback like the Cayman and 911 Targa ‘coupes’ and a five-door like the Cayenne SUV – the Panamera is now being built alongside the Cayenne in a purpose-built factory at Leipzig in Germany.

While the Cayenne and Panamera start life on different production lines, the manufacturing process sees both models merge into one manufacturing process, allowing Porsche to increase or reduce the capacity of either model as required.

Just as the Cayenne almost doubled its annual projected build rate of 25,000 units at one point, to 43,000, Panamera production can easily be scaled up or down from its forecast running rate of 20,000 cars a year. The next-generation Cayenne is again expected to share its chassis with the Audi Q7 and VW Touareg.

While the Panamera’s 4.8-litre Cayenne-based V8s are also produced at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen engine plant in Stuttgart, they are heavily modified to fit under the Panamera bonnet, including a reworked oil pan and top-end components.

Mr Durheimer said the Panamera also shared its satellite-navigation, telephone and ignition lock components with other Porsche models, but was otherwise all-new, thanks to a development program that at its most intensive stage included up to 600 staff, many of whom are now employed in testing the V6 and hybrid variants.

Porsche’s chief engineer said the latter ruled out the possibility of a diesel Panamera for Europe. Similarly, he said a long-wheelbase Panamera would not be coming to China.

And while he did admit that Porsche considered the use of a Ferrari-style rear transaxle drivetrain layout to further improve the Panamera’s 52/48 per cent front/rear weight distribution, it was rejected in favour of a flat boot floor and a 100-litre fuel tank.

The Panamera is most definitely a front-engine design, with the centre of its engine slightly forward of the front axle, but there is nonetheless plenty of room ahead of it in the engine bay.

“The engine is very far (back) into the car,” said Mr Durheimer. “We tried to push it back as far as possible. The weight of such a big powerplant including the gearbox is far behind the engine.” He said the Panamera was not designed with a centre rear seatbelt due to the 60/40-split folding rear seat and would therefore not be available with a rear bench seat, making it strictly a four-seater.

Nor was a bona-fide booted sedan considered in favour of the eventual hatchback design. “We wanted to avoid a three-box car, to give it a typical Porsche shape,” he said.

“One of the major requirements was four people and their luggage. In order to get the luggage inside we needed a very long roofline.”

Read more:

Shanghai show: Porsche on a high with Panamera

First look inside: Panamera performance revealed

Rapid Aston rains on Panamera’s parade


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