By on May 5, 2017

2017 Porsche Panamera Volcano Grey - Image: Porsche

The first second-generation Porsche Panamera I ever spotted was missing its front end. It was still distinctly more attractive than the first-generation Porsche Panamera ever was.

My house is near the CN Autoport in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Dozens of stevedores drive mostly European-built new vehicles off Wallenius Wilhelmsen ships to parking lots near a main road, incidentally known as Main Road. Typically, if I time my drives past just right, I see long lines of new cars, such as the British-built Honda Civic Hatchback or the Volvo V90, weeks before a single one arrives at your local dealer.

Ever so slightly closer to my home than the Autoport itself is a smaller building where the damaged vehicles go. Today, there’s a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, sans rear bumper, parked outside. A few months ago, mere seconds before feasting my eyes upon a line of second-gen Porsche Panameras, I saw the aforementioned damaged Panamera. “Maaaaaan, that car is pretty.”

And then I remembered the old Panamera, vomiting a bit in my throat at the thought. And then I saw Porsche’s April 2017 U.S. sales figures. Scroll down, scroll down, there it is: Panamera. 1,098 sales.

Double its typical monthly output. 26-percent better than its previous best. Triple April 2016’s volume.

And proof people prefer pretty.

Full disclaimer: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Porsche sold more than 44,000 copies of the first Porsche Panamera in the United States since its 2009 debut — and surely not all of those buyers approached the car backward and blindfolded until they sat inside, content in the knowledge that “It’s a Porsche.”

Likewise, there may be some who find the new Panamera’s smoother surfacing and pinched rear end, horizontal taillights, and generally more cohesive styling too milquetoast; too run of the mill; too inconspicuous.

Porsche Panamera two generations - Images: Porsche

Regardless of the beliefs of a few outliers, it’s safe to say Porsche did more than merely tidy up the Panamera’s lines for MY2017. It’s what the Panamera should have been to begin with, a proper Porsche four-seater that isn’t an SUV and isn’t offensive to the eyes.

That’s not to say the Panamera was an uncommonly popular luxury sedan in April 2017. Mercedes-Benz S-Class sales rose 12 percent to 1,491 units last month, for example. HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla Model S sales fell 29 percent to 1,200 units.

The Panamera nevertheless outsold the BMW 7 Series. The Panamera outsold the Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, and Lexus LS combined. The Panamera also outsold much less costly large luxury cars such as the Lincoln Continental and Cadillac CT6.

But the way the Panamera competed with competitors is not the point. No, the point is the pretty new Panamera embarrassed the ugly old Panamera.

All too often we accuse popular cars of succeeding in spite of their faulty designs. The tenth-generation Honda Civic, for instance, which by no means holds a candle to great looking Honda sedans such as the 2004-2008 Acura TL, is America’s second-best-selling car and well on its way to clinching the title of best-selling car in Canada for 2017. The current Prius is an egregious effort on Toyota’s part, but even in decline, the Prius is still the most popular hybrid in America. Indeed, the first Porsche Cayenne was a crime against the Porsche 356’s memory, but the hugely successful first-gen Cayenne helped make Porsche what it is today.

2017 Porsche Panamera - Image: Porsche

So isn’t it nice when an automaker can enjoy great success with a new car precisely because it’s much more attractive than the last one? Sure, there was some pent-up demand for the new, long-awaited Panamera and deliveries could therefore be weighted toward the launch phase, but that would still only serve to prove that there is greater demand for this car.

Yes, this car. In a market that’s turned away from cars to the tune of an 11-percent year-over-year drop in April 2017, in Porsche showrooms that saw sales of the brand’s three other cars drop 13 percent, Porsche Panamera sales climbed higher than ever before.

It’s going to get even better. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is the real stunner.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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17 Comments on “The Pretty New Porsche Panamera Is Already Way More Popular than the Ugly Old Porsche Panamera Ever Was...”


  • avatar

    Prettier, does not mean,Pretty.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    It certainly looks better than the first, which it kind of failed to pull the fastback four door look off and was more like a shoe (or a Honda Crosstour, which admittedly came later). This is of course the trouble that modern fastback has, in that the tail can’t go all the way down to the bumper for safety reasons. The modern Jaguar F-type suffers from this a bit as well, though 911s have managed to avoid it somewhat.

    The notching that they did on the tail certainly helped, as well as some of the character lines underneath the hatch.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like the distinctiveness of the old one. The side window profile now looks painfully generic, and the rear tailights look like they were borrowed from Dodge. Add in the trend of putting lights in the rear bumper (WTF?), and you have a noble brand succumbing to the worst in current design trends.

    But in a world that can make the Honda Civic the most popular compact car, what the hell do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Those are not lights in the rear bumper, they are just red plastic reflectors (which may or may not be the location of the rear fog light in overseas models).

      While some automakers use them to make the car look “sportier,” their growing prevalence makes me suspect automakers are using them to fulfill some regulatory requirement somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      As for the lights in the bumper; the reality of the world we live in today is that a significant portion of the driving public is not focusing on the task at hand at any given time. I am all for additional subtleties to remind the folks behind me that I am in front of them.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I agree.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Now if we could get a Toyota four runner that doesn’t look like a giant catfish. Or imagine if the new Civic wasn’t intentionally ugly? A man can dream.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The new one looks better but the old one was available with a naturally-aspirated V8 so I call it a wash.

    Although the 3rd gen will probably only be offered as a turbo-4 and PHEV so maybe I shouldn’t complain.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    From $80k to nearly $200k across the Panamera range apparently. Seems an excessive spread of packages for one model, but when one thinks about it that’s about percentage spread between base Toyota Camry and fully optioned Lexus package Toyota Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      The Avalon, not the Camry, is the ES’s current Toyota analog. The base MSRP for an Avalon is $33,300. Loaded to the gills, an ES 300h comes in at $53,669 (at least on my configurator). A 61% spread in price is pretty large in my book, but it pales in comparison to 150%.

      Signed,
      That Guy

  • avatar

    No wonder. It looks like a five-door version of the iconic 911. Probably drives like one too. Clever move therefore. There’s even going to be a LWB version (looks good too), to nibble away market share from Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sorry – could help myself…

    http://www.theonion.com/article/new-mommy-a-lot-prettier-1512

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I’d never have considered the previous version – WAY too ugly.

    This one is definitely a contender.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m quite surprised manufacturers persist with those stodgy old flagship sedans. Obviously the S-Class is a winner and the class benchmark, but everything else seems to be dying on the vine, even with complete updates. In the US at least, people seem starved for distinctiveness and personality in luxury car design, even if it makes for something ugly in the classic sense. Who is the market for something like a brand new A8?

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Thank goodness I waited!
    As soon as I have the dosh I will put a deposit on a deposit.


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