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Grand touring coupe: What a two-door Panamera-based coupe might look like. Digital image: Chris Harris.

Panamera upgraded as Porsche ponders two-door coupe and cabriolet derivatives

25 Jun 2010

PORSCHE has always stated the Panamera will form the basis of an entirely new model family and now the first official tangible evidence of further derivatives of the Stuttgart sportscar maker’s fourth model line has emerged.

A grand touring coupe in the vein of Porsche’s original 928 has long been rumoured to be the first body style to follow the Panamera five-door, and just such a model has now appeared in an official sketch on the homepage of the Porsche Consulting website.

Porsche Consulting became a separate entity from Porsche Automobile SE in 1992. Today it employs 222 people and turns over 61 million euro ($A87m) in training and business consultancy work, as well as manufacturing projects in the automotive, construction and furniture industries.

From the front, the large, muscular two-door coupe looks a lot like the front-engined Panamera, but also borrows a number of styling cues from the six-cylinder-only 911, which remains the benchmark by which all other high-performance coupes are measures but cannot compete with top-shelf super-coupes from Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin.

25 center imageArtist's impression of a four-door Panamera-based cabriolet. While the Geneva motor show-stopping 918 Spyder concept appears destined for production as a plug-in roadster replacement for Porsche’s limited-build Carrera GT flagship – and could appear in production trim at Pebble Beach in August - a born-again Panamera-based 928 coupe would be positioned between it and the $220,000-plus 911. It would also leave room for a new sub-Cayman coupe, based on parent company’s Volkswagen’s mid-engined BlueSport concept, to open the Porsche range.

Originally designed as an eventual successor for the 911, the front-engined, V8-powered 928 first emerged in 1978 and spawned a number of accomplished variants including the GTS, which employed a 257kW/500Nm 5.4-litre V8 to sprint to 100km/h in a then-competitive 5.7 seconds.

Despite being far more formidable than the standard 4.5-litre V8-powered 928, variants like the GTS failed to ensure the model’s longevity alongside the air-cooled but evergreen 911, and the 928 was discontinued after an 18-year model run in 1995.

However, strong global sales of Porsche’s first sedan, which appears on track to easily achieve its annual sales target of 20,000, makes a new 928-style coupe based on Panamera underpinnings more likely, which in turn could easily spawn a convertible version.

European patent drawings of a four-door Panamera cabriolet raised eyebrows when they emerged earlier this year and although a traditional two-door drop-top is more likely, the official Porsche response to any additional Panamera derivatives remains dismissive.

“A sketch does not constitute official confirmation of the existence of any future model,” Porsche Cars Australia spokesman Paul Ellis told GoAuto.

“As a design company it is our job to create designs as we explore all options, so it would be drawing an extremely long bow to suggest that such a product will eventuate on the back of a sketch.” Porsche AG R&D chief Wolfgang Durheimer was more forthcoming at the launch of the Panamera in Shanghai last April, when he told GoAuto: “For the time being this is the Panamera and there are no other design alternatives around – yet”.

Whether or not the Panamera platform, which has also been earmarked for use underneath at least one future model from Volkswagen, sires two-door coupe and cabriolet derivatives, the rollout of sedan variants will continue unabated.

The V6-powered Panamera will lower the entry price of Porsche’s most luxurious sportscar from next month, when it goes on sale here from $193,000, while a model upgrade will bring a brake energy recuperation system as standard across the range around the end of this year.

While a hybrid version – employing the same V6 petrol-electric drive system that powers next month’s second-generation Cayenne SUV – will complete the Panamera sedan line up next year, the rolling change will bring small fuel efficiency improvements across the V8 range.

Announced last week, the running change for the Panamera enters production in August. Combined with new 19-inch all-season tyres with reduced rolling resistance, Porsche says the standard regenerative braking system reduces fuel consumption on the flagship Panamera Turbo by 0.9 litres per 100km.

As a result, the top-shelf Panamera will return average fuel economy of 11.3L/100km (down from 12.2L/100km), while CO2 emissions fall by 21 grams per kilometre. At the same time, the naturally aspirated Panamera S and all-wheel drive Panamera 4S will consume an average of 10.3 and 10.6L/100km respectively (down by almost 0.5L/100km), while emitting about 11g/km less CO2.

As with similar systems, the extra efficiency comes from a system that recharges the battery primarily under brakes or during engine overrun, reducing current in the alternator and therefore minimising load on the engine during acceleration.

Porsche says that while the Panamera’s standard idle-stop system has also been optimised to deliver even quicker engine restarting, a fuel saving of 0.7L/100km in the Turbo comes directly from the brake regeneration system, with a further 0.2L/100km being directly attributable to the redesigned tyres.

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