Big Red Machine: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

SQUAMISH, BC – Here, just a few short weeks ago, some luckless members of the local Porsche club found themselves nabbed by the long arm of the law. They’d been capital-“S” speeding along the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway; all too easy to do when piloting one of Stuttgart’s finest along these sweeping, freshly tarmac’d curves.

The story was well-publicized, the schadenfreude of the letter-writing public well-documented – the RCMP impounded the cars, slapped the velocitous miscreants with heavy fines and warned that they’d be watching the roads with eagle eyes. What’s wanted, then, is something inconspicuous, relaxing, dawdling, slow: a silver minivan, for instance, or perhaps a beige Camry.

Unfortunately, I appear to be piloting two-tonnes of Teutonic super-sedan: sixteen-feet long, four hundred and thirty horsepower, 4.8L V8 engine, track-tuned suspension, optional sports exhaust – oh, dear – and it’s bright red.

Nice knowin’ ya, licence.

Porsche offers its purist-baiting four-door in several flavours, and this, the GTS, is perhaps the most outstandingly rorty. It lacks the absolute mind-bending surge of the Turbo model, but is perhaps the better for it – hit a button and the sound that emerges from the blackened quad-exhaust goes from grumble to bellow.

Oh yeah, the buttons. While the bulbous exterior of the Panamera gathers more curbside compliments than I was expecting, there’s no doubt it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kinda ride. Step inside though, and the bickering stops: this isn’t an interior – it’s a cockpit.

In particular, the GTS is an unbelievably nice place for you and three friends to sit while being lectured by a police officer. It’s swathed in soft-touch Alcantara, and the quality of the materials used is simply outstanding. There’s also enough adjustability to drive OCD types around the bend – four settings for the suspension, three settings for throttle and transmission responsiveness, a multi-function selectable screen in the right-hand part of the instrument binnacle that can show navigation directions or up-to-the-minute tire-pressures – you could spend hours trying to get the car just right.

Not to worry, I found a shortcut. Dial in all the bolstering the sport-buckets will allow. Press everything that has the word “Sport” on it at least twice. Flick the gear-selector for the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission into manual mode and place your hands at nine and three, fingertips just brushing the paddle-shifters. Then, walk on it.

0-100km/h comes up in a hair over four seconds, the Pano shrugging off its 4,200 lb curb weight with a sneer for the laws of physics. Show Big Red a sharp curve and, snarling, it puts the boots to Newtonian theory; no car this big should be able to react this quickly.

Enough antisocial tomfoolery – let’s dial things back a bit as we approach civilization. Flick this toggle, depress that switch and suddenly the Red Menace turns into the QEII, the adjustable air-suspension soaking up pavement imperfections while the PDK gearbox tip-toes through the upshifts; the exhaust whuffles away happily.

It’s a hell of a machine, but a suggestion – maybe choose a colour less likely to land you in hot water. Like “clear.”

This is a test