Entry-level Porsche Panamera to Start at “Just” $74,400

Despite much gnashing of teeth from purists, Porsche’s recent foray into non-traditional segments—courtesy of the Porsche Cayenne SUV and Porsche Panamera sedan—have been paying off in the sales department. The Cayenne is far and away the automaker’s biggest customer magnet, while the numbers for even the slowest-selling Panamera variant top those of the fastest-selling Porsche 911.

And now, to bring more of that Panamera goodness to more buyers, Porsche is launching a pair of entry-level models—one with rear-wheel drive, one with AWD—that shave about $15,000 off the current Panamera’s MSRP. The thing is, that smaller price tag will get customers a significantly smaller engine: A direct-injection V6 that makes about 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

That’s quite a drop from the 400/369 numbers found in the V8 under the hood of the Panamera S and way, way off the 500 hp/516 lb-ft of torque in the Panamera Turbo.

Some of that disparity is made up for because the V6 is a lighter engine, which helps lower the vehicles’ overall curb weight, but there’s no getting around the fact the new Panameras will have a slightly lower power-to-weight ratio than a base Chevrolet Camaro.

On the other hand, Porsche claims significant fuel-efficiency bumps for both models as compared to their V8 counterparts. The European numbers come out to 25.3 mpg for the RWD Panamera and 24.5 mpg for the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4; of course, EPA testing is a different animal, and the actual U.S. results could be 3-4 mpg lower than this.

Also notable is that these starter models still offer plenty of Porsche’s other performance enhancers, including the automaker’s new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Auto Repair North Haven expects this transmission will not only boost performance, but having seven speeds, compared to a six-speed, will also have a positive impact fuel economy. A hybrid will also be added to the lineup, which may sound odd, but fuel efficiency is the name of the game these days, as even Hartford Nissan points out that the Nissan GT-R’s successor is rumored to receive a hybrid drivetrain.

The net result? Ferdinand Porsche may be rolling in his grave, but these new models should keep reeling in more Dealer Greensboro Porsche customers for the company that still bears his name. For additional details on the new Panamera lineup, see the official press release below.

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Press Release:

Porsche Adds New Panamera Models to its Gran Turismo Lineup

Sporting a new 300-horsepower V6 engine, the Panamera and Panamera 4 deliver Porsche driving excitement, high comfort, and excellent fuel efficiency

ATLANTA – February 16, 2010 – Porsche Cars North America today announced the addition of two new Panamera models, just three months after successfully launching the first four-door Gran Turismo in three V8 flavors: the Panamera S, the Panamera 4S and the Panamera Turbo.

The Panamera and Panamera 4, the model line’s new entry level versions, will be in Porsche dealerships in June 2010. Both feature a brand-new 3.6-liter V6 with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) developing 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The Panamera transmits its power to the road via the rear wheels, while the Panamera 4 comes standard with active all-wheel drive. U.S. models will include Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK), Porsche’s new and revolutionary seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, as standard equipment.

The Panamera and Panamera 4 are examples of the Porsche Intelligent Performance development strategy. Equipped with the PDK gearbox and the Auto Start Stop function, Porsche expects these new models to be considerably more fuel efficient than their normally aspirated V8 siblings. Official U.S. EPA fuel economy figures will be announced closer to the new models’ on-sale date, and both meet the strict EU5 emission standard in Europe and the LEV standard in the United States. And like all Panamera models, they are not subject to a gas-guzzler tax.

Porsche has always focused on superior efficiency and performance, and in the case of these new Panamera models these long-held tenets are not mutually exclusive. One example of this ideal combination of qualities is consistent lightweight construction with the axles, doors, hood, front fenders and tailgate all made of aluminum. Likewise, the brand new 90-degree angle V6 powerplant built at Porsche’s engine plant in Zuffenhausen is approximately 66 lbs. lighter than the Porsche V8 in the Panamera S and 4S. This contributes to the low overall curb weight, which in the case of the Panamera with the PDK transmission is just 3,880 lbs. (1,730 kg).

Like the proven V8 models, both the Panamera and the Panamera 4, as genuine Gran Turismos, combine a sporting character with a high standard of comfort and everyday driving qualities. Steel suspension with variable dampers is standard, and adaptive air suspension with additional air volume on demand is available as an option. This provides a wide range of suspension qualities and features, with a high level of motoring comfort on the one hand and extremely sporting driving dynamics on the other.

Both models will be making their world debut at the Beijing Motor Show on April 23, 2010. The Panamera and Panamera 4 MSRPs are $74,400 and $78,900, respectively.

Since its U.S. introduction in October 2009, the Panamera has received numerous awards and recognition. The Panamera Turbo was named Playboy Magazine’s 2010 Car of the Year. Others include an Edmunds Inside Line Editors’ Most Wanted Award, inclusion in Edmunds.com’s Top Recommended Vehicles list, two Car and Driver Editors Choice Awards (Sports Sedans and Luxury Sedans), Bloomberg Car of the Year, About.com Cars Best New Cars of 2010, and NADAguides.com’s Car of the Month for January.

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