the porsche panamera is the diet coke of cars

Is the Porsche Panamera the Diet Coke of Cars?

We all grow a little bit older with each passing day. I’ve felt like this has been a bit expedited in my mid-30s, as not only am I not too far from middle age, but also my early 20s feel like an awfully long time ago.

Two markers that seem to signify that I’m indeed getting old, fast, is my recent infatuation with Diet Coke, as well as my newfound inclination to own a cheap Porsche Panamera someday.

Well, when I mean cheap, I mean a high-mileage-yet-reasonably-maintained example that might need a little love and is perfect for the naive work-from-home wrencher like yours truly. Naive, in that I’ve had a string of what the Internet calls unreliable cars, and despite widespread belief, none have been any kind of nightmare (so far, knock on wood). These include my current $925 2002 Audi S4, pride-and-joy 2011 BMW 128i, and dearly missed old 1997 Land Rover Discovery.

But what about the Porsche Panamera makes it an acquired taste, particularly with age? To put it plainly, it’s like Diet Coke—one day a switch flipped and all of a sudden I thoroughly dug it.

Previous Views

I couldn’t stand Diet Coke when I was a kid. I also thought it was a cop out when I was a young adult, like drinking light beer. Why drink ersatz pop when you could just have the real deal in moderation, and save the rest of your intake for water and coffee?

I think my parents keeping Diet Coke at room temperature (I know, gross right?) in the 90s also kept me away from it for so long. There’s nothing worse than cracking open a warm can of fake sugar’d fizzy drink and hoping for some form of refreshment. Might as well take a shot of hydrochloric acid and chase it with nail polish remover.

I didn’t have this level of distaste for the Porsche Panamera, particularly the first 2009-2016 970 chassis, but I still found it to be pretty lame and unappealing when it first appeared on Top Gear over ten years ago.

My thoughts at the time: this pregnant-fish-looking sedan waters down a top sports car brand and is just another dumb yuppie mobile that I can expect to regularly get cut off by within the USA’s higher-income zip codes. I also doubt there’ll be many optioned with a manual transmission, and, well, it’s just lame. Porsche should only produce the 911, Boxster, and Cayman, nothing more.

Again, those were my views at the time. I’ve come around quite a bit since.

The Silver and Red Switch Flipped

One day last Summer I decided to crack open a Diet Coke at Watkins Glen International while hangin’ out at an SRO race weekend. Since WG is a NASCAR-owned track, it’s got a close relationship with Coca Cola, so the media center is always thoroughly stocked with free Coke products.

I was in the middle of a bought of diet-consciousness, so I said fuck it and cracked open a can of ice-cold silver-can serum when I badly needed a caffeine fix. I can’t explain why, but once that sweet fake nectar hit my tongue, I felt so incredibly refreshed.

Part of this is probably due to being constantly addicted to caffeine since my late teens, but man, I just can’t explain why I instantly dug the taste of Diet Coke so much. Even after thinking back to my childhood when I was so thoroughly repulsed by it.

My intake hasn’t been too atrocious ever since, but I still think it’s goddamn delicious and can’t get over it. I still can’t explain why. Also, since starting on this blog I’ve gone through two—count ’em two—7.5 oz. cans up until this point.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Four-Door Porsche

My transition to digging the 970 wasn’t as much of a 180, but I still can’t quite explain what triggered me to one day think this looks great and would probably be good fun to own someday. I’ve grown to really like the way it looks from almost all angles, have stopped routinely referring to it as a pregnant fish, and in spite of these things seeming rather difficult to work on, I’d love to do so someday.

Another dimensionally massive (well, even more so) new car that I’ve taken a shine to: the 2022 BMW i4 M50

I think this is also rooted in liking large German sedans more and more as I get older. I used to not be so keen on them, but after having a gas with the F90 BMW M5 Competition a little over a year ago, plus generally accepting the fact that all German sports cars are dimensionally massive, I can hang. I’d also love to pick up a German boat of yore someday as a project, like an E32 BMW 750i with the glorious, naturally aspired V12. Like I said, nothing really scares me.

Turbo V8 variants of the 970 are still quite pricy but they’re something to keep an eye out for in the future. At present, it looks like the 970 Panamera 2/S can be found for around $20,000—which is still a bit rich for my blood—but something in fixer-upper condition could probably be found on Copart or Craigslist for a bit less.

I wouldn’t want to go with a Panamera 4, though. Who wants two more drive wheels to steal any potential oversteery fun when the conditions allow?

The 3.6-liter V6 sounds like it’d just barely cut the mustard—I’d be wiser to hold out for a V8. I’m not sure what the rear differential situation is, either, nor am I aware of which transmissions are available with which engines. A V8 with a manual gearbox seems fantastic, but then so would the 7-speed PDK.

I’ve already had my fill of Tiptronic with my S4. I’m good with skipping that option.

Though, at the end of the day, there are a bunch of cars that sit higher on my must-own list. Perhaps sooner than later: a 987 Cayman (Base or S, I’m not picky).

But the idea of a large four-door Porsche with a revvy V8, some mild modifications, and a mildly shouty exhaust is a mighty compelling prospect. Who knows—if the right offer pops up, it’d be really cool to pull the trigger and make it into a brutish daily, roadtrip mobile, and/or occasional track day attendee.

And crack open an extra-frosty Diet Coke from behind the wheel on a hot SoCal Summer day.




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