Our home on wheels for nearly 10,000 miles will be Gilles’s 2011 dark metallic blue Porsche Panamera. The Panamera is one of the now many low-slung luxury four-door hatchbacks that are invading the automotive scene. Although there is disagreement in the automotive press (and within the PanAmerica crew) as to the merits of the Panamera’s exterior design (the rear can be pretty ghastly to look at), there is no question this automobile was designed for long and fast highway miles.
Our Panamera has the base engine, a 3.6L V6, but is fully loaded with all the other options: 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, rear-view camera and sensors, moonroof, power rear hatch, dual-zone climate control, 8-way power and heated front seats, and leather all-around.
A hard-drive-based navigation system will hopefully keep us on route, and an 11-speaker stereo will definitely keep us awake when we do get lost. With 16 cu. ft. of trunk space, we’ll have more than enough room to pack our daily supply of beef jerky, deodorant, and books not-on-tape.
When we hit the long stretches of open road we’ll be able to make up for the lost time caused by unexpected bathroom stops, unplanned detours to “The World’s Largest Pile of Tiger Beat Magazines”, or helping certain crew members locate lost articles of clothing in the desert thanks to the powerful yet relatively fuel efficient 300hp V6 that attains 30mpg on the highway (results will vary based on driver). That is, if our least favorite feature of the car, the ZF-engineered 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, literally called a “Doppelkupplungsgetriebe”, doesn’t get in the way. No really, that’s what it’s called: DOPPEL-KUPPLUNGS-GETRIEBE.
We’ll be the first to admit it: not many people have the opportunity to road trip in the comfort and style of such a machine. But 150 hours of driving over 14 days may make us realize that those aren’t the most comfortable leather seats in the industry.
These cars have always gotten pretty favorable reviews and everyone knows the Germans don’t screw around when it comes to building quality automobiles, but this will be quite a test for the girl. Chances are, she’ll handle it better than we will. The question is: of the four, who is the first to be punished by being forced to eat Rocky Mountain oysters?