Every year for the last decade or so, minus 2020, some close friends and I head to a specific corner of a specific lake in New Hampshire. It’s our chance to catch up, hang out, drink too much, eat too much, make fun of each other, and generally have a wonderful time. These are people I’ve known since the 7th grade and our time spent at Ossipee Lake is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Missing 2020 meant going in heavy for 2021, so I took a red-eye to Boston so I could soak in as much of the weekend as possible. And I got up to the lake house with effortless quickness thanks to the 2021 Porsche Panamera GTS waiting for me in a parking lot near Logan Airport.
Some basic stats on the car… It’s the latest version of Porsche’s gas-slugging sedan. For 2021, Porsche updated the nose, made the taillight a bit more substantial, and pumped up the volume on cars fitted with the Sport Exhaust. That bit comes standard on a GTS. As does the twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the hood. It’s a 4.0-liter mill making an extremely healthy 473 horsepower. You also have 457 lb-ft of torque on tap and that delightful shove peaks at just 1,800 rpm. All the power is sent through an eight-speed PDK which routes power out to all four wheels as necessary. The car will rip from 0-60 in just a few ticks over the three-second mark, and it still has plenty of room for both people and things.
Of the Panamera family, it’s the GTS version that is my favorite. It sits in the middle and it’s the starting point for the V8-stuffed versions. There are crazy ones out there, such as the 620-hp Turbo S or the truly bonkers 689-hp Turbo S E-Hybrid, but both of those have eye-watering starting price points of $180k and $190k respectively. By contrast, the GTS feels like a relative bargain with its base MSRP of just over $130k. Still quite pricey, of course, and this specific car as-tested sits at $148,800. But not a lot of machines out there can stir the soul through truly amazing driving dynamics and cozily make runs to the grocery store or your kid’s school drop-off lane. Or in the case of this Panamera GTS while I had the keys, safely whisk you through the wind and rain of a rapidly encroaching hurricane.
When I landed Thursday morning, there was some rain. But with a capable AWD system underneath me, I pointed the car north and set off for the lake. The rain fell but the Panamera GTS never felt out of sorts and my time on the road was nothing out of the ordinary. We had sun on Friday and again on Saturday morning, but a text from my wife said to keep an eye on the weather. I hadn’t been doing that prior so I was a bit surprised to see Hurrican Henri churning a path towards New England.
My first call was to Delta, to see if my flight on Sunday would be affected. The voice on the other end said the current hold time is seven hours and 59 minutes. That is not confidence-inspiring. I tried to look at my options through the Delta app and was told I couldn’t make flight changes through this system and needed to speak to a representative.
So I did what folks do in this modern age… I complained on Twitter. And you know what? It worked! I got a message from Delta which asked for flight info. Then I received a message through the Delta app asking me what changes I’d like to make. I managed to move my flight time up by 3 hours. That meant I was still rolling the dice a little bit, but I felt better about my chances.
Before the weather started to turn, I set off on a run in the car. My destination was Cranmore mountain as I rented a mountain bike and purchased a lift ticket to get some riding in. The journey there takes you from Ossipee through North Conway and Waze put me on some back roads due to a bit of construction in the main town center. This was greatly appreciated as I got to dive into the capability of the car a bit more.
The seats in pretty much every modern Porsche are essentially perfect. They’re not too thick, the seating position is excellent, and there’s a perfect blend of comfort and coddling. Pair that with sublime steering feel (for a modern vehicle), a telepathic gearbox, glorious V8 noises, and you have an absolutely winning combination. I still prefer the SportTurismo GTS because I’m a homer for wagons. And I moreso prefer the CrossTurismo because that electric wagon is truly an incredible machine. But the gas-powered sedan version is absolutely wonderful. Let those with a need to stunt and style pick up the far more spendy Turbo versions… for me, it would be a de-badged GTS all day long.
My weekend was wonderful, but Sunday soon arrived. I needed to get a friend back to his house in Winthrop (Just outside Boston) then drop off the Porsche at the airport parking lot in which I picked it up on Thursday. Typically, the drive from NH takes two hours. But the rain was starting to fall. Along the way, it got harder. To the point where it was a struggle to see anything ahead of the nose of the car. But where my eyes strained, the Panamera did not. There was no loss of traction moments, just pure purposeful power. The drive home was without incident even if it led to occasional bouts of white knuckles due to extremely poor visibility.
I arrived at Logan Airport waiting for word of flight delays. But they never came. Though the rain fell and the sky remained deeply gray, my 3pm flight time arrived and I was off into the air heading to LAX. When I landed, I learned that my original flight time of 6pm wound up delayed… 12 hours. So thanks to the only good usage of Twitter combined with an extremely capable car, I was able to evade a hurricane and make it home.
Could I have done that in another car? Sure. Would I prefer to do it in a Porsche? Absolutely.
[Disclaimer: Porsche let me borrow the Panamera GTS for the weekend and included a tank of fuel.]