2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S sets Nürburgring executive car record

Porsche reasserted its dominance over Germany’s grueling Nürburgring track by setting a record in the executive car category with a new variant of the Panamera. The sedan was 13 seconds faster than its predecessor.

Lars Kern, one of Porsche’s test drivers, lapped the 12.9-mile track in 7:29.81, a figure that makes the Panamera the quickest executive car around the Nürburgring. For context, the same driver set a 6:47.25 time in a 911 GT2 RS in 2017, and recorded 7:12.7 in a 911 GT3 that same year, though both times were set on an older, slightly shorter version of the track. 7:29 is on par with a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. 

Although there’s no word yet on which variant of the Panamera set the record, it’s reasonable to assume Porsche put its intrepid test driver behind the wheel of the non-electrified Turbo S it announced in July. If that’s accurate, the sedan is powered by a 4.0-liter V8 that’s twin-turbocharged to 621 horsepower and 605 pound-feet of torque, significant increases over the outgoing Turbo. It spins the four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Engineers also made hardware and software changes to the steering, the suspension, and the roll stabilization system, though they stopped short of adding a drift mode. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (which will be optionally available on the production car) developed specifically for the Panamera helped Kern set the record. Porsche noted the racing seat and the roll cage seen in the images will not be offered to customers, however.

“I achieved cornering speeds that I would not have believed possible with the Panamera,” summed up Kern.

Porsche will introduce the 2021 Panamera online in August 2020. Sales will start shortly after.

Who’s fastest?

Porsche’s Panamera competes in the same segment as the aforementioned Mercedes-AMG GT Four-Door, so both models are classified as executive sedans by German authorities and Nürburgring officials even though the latter is marketed as a coupe. The previous lap record in the executive sedan category was held by the GT 63 with a time of 7.30.11 set in 2018, according to the track. Mercedes-AMG also floated 7:25.41, which was accurate as well. But, why two times? Historical reasons, mostly.

Before 2019, officials considered the track’s entrance as the end of the lap to give space to drivers who wanted another go. Since last year, manufacturers seeking to set a new record need to race around the entire track, which adds about 760 feet to each run. Kern set the 7:29.81 time on the full track, but Porsche pointed out the Panamera logged 7:25.04 on the shorter configuration, so it comes out ahead of the GT by a few split seconds no matter which yardstick is used to measure it. Your move, AMG.

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