If a Porsche comes from the factory wearing a GT badge, that’s usually code for it being a no compromise, all-out track day weapon.
However that’s not the case with the 2019 Panamera GTS because despite the intentions of the badge, this is not the most aggressive model in the range.
In both conventional saloon and Sport Turismo estate body styles, the Panamera GTS has found a balance between performance and comfort, slotting between the executive express 4S V6 and the monstrously quick Panamera Turbo V8.
While it too includes a pair of twin scroll turbochargers to feed its four-litre V8 engine, the Panamera GTS gives away 89bhp to the Turbo but holds a handy 20bhp advantage over the 4S.
Still, with 454bhp on tap, there’s nothing demure about its look with 20in alloy wheels riding on air suspension that has lowered its stance by 10mm and a tuned exhaust which gives a deep-throated burble at idle before morphing into a nice under-toned, yet menacing growl at speed.
Of course you can cancel that at the touch of a button if the neighbours complain but the Panamera GTS gives off all the right impressions that it’s a sporting member of the family capped by discretely smoked headlights and taillights.
Despite looking similar on paper to the Audi/VW four-litre, twin-turbo V8 that powers various Bentleys and the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche claims the unit in the GTS is an in-house motor developed for the Panamera, delivering its peak power at 6,000rpm while its 620Nm of torque comes on like a train from just 1,800rpm.
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After a day’s drive on roads through the hot and humid deserts that surround Bahrain, its very useable torque was the most obvious trait, shifting early through each of its eight gears which was further emphasised later in the evening during some hot lap running of the F1 Grand Prix circuit.
While it pulled power, easily spinning into its 6,000rpm redline, such was the engine’s flexibility that you could be almost as quick by short-shifting and riding the torque wave as its turbos spooled up.
Once the ugly duckling of the Porsche family, the big Panamera continues its evolution into a more appealing shape following the release of the Sport Turismo body that tricks the eye into thinking it’s a bigger car because of its estate-like rear.
The subtle cosmetic tweaks made to the GTS, mixed with some vibrant new colours continue the welcome transformation and despite the appearance of the Sport Turismo being larger, both body styles carry the same 2,950mm wheelbase and measure 5,053mm nose to tail.
While both shapes seat four people, the Sport Turismo’s larger tailgate makes loading easier and is arguably the better looking of the two styles.
Tipping the scales at 2,585kg, the Panamera GTS is no lightweight but that didn’t hinder its progress on track, getting to 100kmh in 4.1 seconds, on to 200kph in 15.4 seconds and touching 292kph flat out.
The 2,700kg Sport Turismo was two tenths off the pace to 200kph and ran out of breath 3kph shy of the saloon’s top speed.
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To keep that large frame from pitching and yawing through tight corners, the GTS is equipped with adaptive air suspension which use three-chamber air springs to keep the lateral movements under control, while its larger 390mm front discs and 360mm rear units — which took a punishing on track — were easily up to the task.
Power is sent to all four wheels via Porsche’s PTM active all-wheel drive system through the dual clutch, eight-speed PDK auto transmission.
Like the outside, the GTS interior features only a few tell-tale pointers to highlight its sports credentials such as an Alcantara leather package for the 18-way adjustable sports seats and steering wheel but the best news inside is the adoption of a Heads Up Display.
It may be a little late to the HUD game but the advantage here is that it’s fully customisable via the 12.3in centre console touch screen, letting you show as little or as much information like sat-nav, assistance system data and warnings as you want.
Priced from Dh601,200 and Dh609,700 for the Sport Turismo, the GTS order books are now open and it should be available for delivery from late March.