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Porsche makes great cars. They usually drive better than you’d expect of them, and with the new generation cars, it is only getting better. The Panameras for instance that we drove at the ZF driving camp in Austria showcased a number of technologies that collectively make the Panamera a better driver’s car.
ZF’s active kinematics control for example is the reason why the massive 5 metre-plus Porsche Panamera e-hybrid handles like a dream. The rear axle like in the Porsche 911 can steer and that makes the Panamera a lot more agile than before. In tight spots at low speeds, the turning radius reduces as the rear wheels turn ever so slightly in the opposite direction to the front wheels making it a lot more manoeuvrable. On the slalom course ZF had planned for us, the reduced steering input while navigating through the cones showcased the car’s low speed agility.
At high speeds, they turn in the same direction virtually increasing the wheelbase and increasing stability. While we didn’t experience that in Austria, just weeks ago, I drove the Panamera Turbo on our favourite winding road – Lavasa, and the car simply blew my mind. It should be a four door sedan and act like it, but it’s a very comfortable sportscar.
Coming to the comfort, the ZF components that help are many. For starters, it’s the new 8-Speed PDK gearbox ZF makes exclusively for Porsche. It’s quicker than you can think yet the shifts don’t have the unnecessary violence other cars that go this fast have. There is smoothness with every shift that keeps you in rhythm and you are always in the right gear. Adding to the smoothness is the ride, that also turns out to be ZF components. The shock absorber, continuous damping control and active roll stabilization ensure the Panamera always stays in control. ZF also supplies chassis components, electronic components, airbags, seatbelt safety systems, crash sensors, the list goes on.
Another major ZF component in the Panamera that makes it drive better is the steering. Usually cars this size are engineered to understeer, require a lot more input in steering when you tackle a winding road and the accuracy is almost always found lacking. The flipside is more weight added to the steering to feel like a driver’s car. With the Panamera, the balance is just right. It isn’t unnecessarily heavy and very precise, and because the rear axles steer too, the driving experience is taken to a whole new level.
I could count at least 12 major components/systems on the Panamera and of these the gearbox, suspension and steering are parts one can actively experience. Porsche is at the centre of the VW group’s engineering prowess and all new technologies on the chassis, suspension, electronics and gearbox front will be implemented on new Porsches. That ZF seems to be a chosen partner for one of the finest car brands in the world speaks of the German supplier’s advancements in the automotive field.
Read all about ZF’s Vision Zero vehicle here