Mountain Wheels: Porsche’s wild Panamera GTS takes you to the edge |

Mountain Wheels: Porsche’s wild Panamera GTS takes you to the edge

Special to the Daily 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS

After a long dry spell, an embarrassment of riches descended from above: two fantastic German autos each sporting nearly 430 horsepower, jaw-dropping looks and prices like those of modest Front Range homes.

In the interest of equal time, I will fix today’s love-fest on the sublimely peerless 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS, and promise more about the all-new Mercedes Benz SL 550.

Panamera, as illustrated, is Porsche’s vexing and controversial experiment at four-person (plus luggage) comfort in a more-than-high-performance package nearly as crazy as the 911.

Introduced at last year’s L.A. Auto Show, the GTS presents itself as a fearsome cross between the 400-horsepower Panamera and the ungodly fast 500 HP Panamera Turbo. GTS takes the 4.8-liter V8 common to the family and pushes out 430 thoroughly nasty sounding, naturally aspirated horses.

That makes for a thrilling but not time-warping experience at high altitude; suffice to say that the Panamera is stupid fast off the line (4.3 seconds to 60 mph) and capable of a top speed of an enhanced 178 mph. It just takes a bit longer to do that at Vail Pass heights.

Truth be told, I didn’t even try that out all that hard. Rather, I spent the weekend tooling around the High Country in the GTS, emphasizing the grand-touring aspect of the big Porsche.

The amazing thing is that Stuttgart’s finest really did accomplish their masters’ goals when they crafted the Panamera, then made it nutty in GTS mode: Despite 4,233 pounds and a not-insignificant 195 inches of overall length, the Panamera hustles around corners in full 911-worthy glory.

And, though this is the part really bordering on heresy, it features two reasonably comfortable rear seats and a whopping 44.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Those rear spots are prime for full-sized adults, as well, though Porsche would like to imagine they’d be your backup race crew, outfitted in helmets on a wild track day.

I only managed to use that extra space to carry an overnight bag up to Keystone (Loveland Pass is indeed prime territory for this kind of machine, though I was passed by nine like-minded Lamborghinis on the same route).

After a surreal and nitrate-heavy afternoon at the Blue Ribbon Bacon festival, I set out for the wilds between Bond and Kremmling to let the Panamera roll in more relaxed surroundings.

GTS, it turns out, is more than just a cross of the standard auto and that out-of-control Turbo. Much of the enhanced suspension from the racier version is there, as are those intense, red-calipered race brakes.

You also get an adjustable air-lift suspension (good for elevating one very low nose splitter over suburban curbs) and two levels of sport response modes, with hyper-stiffened shocks and alarmingly fast gear changes from the seven-speed PDK automatic. It has big flappy paddles that work in the way they were supposed to do so, almost organically.

Race track-style A-pillar windows enable better views at the inevitably sideways angles you’ll be exploring on the corners. There’s also a Turbo-derived set of black, black 19-inch wheels.

And the sounds. Oh, the sounds. Porsche has crafted a system that’s not only genuinely evil in its grunting and wailing, the notes are also carried into the cabin through a resonator – and if you’d like to quell the wrath of your already envious neighbors, you can flip a switch on the very button-heavy center console and muffle the note.

I also loved the positively Batman-worthy butterfly knife of a rear spoiler, which unfolds its wings at speed. Surely messing with the head of anyone silly enough to be on your tail.

GTS’s cabin gets a top-to-bottom dose of Alcantara suede, from seats to armrests to a grippy, fuzzy, button-free wheel, and this particular model also sports hand-stitched red highlights and GTS badging.

Those seats are also as solid as they come, requiring the butt-first Watusi to get into place; happily the doors also feature hold-open struts to ease that process.

Five concentric rings of instruments capture all the vitals, with navigation video display in one of them; the full navigation and audio setup remains one of the best in the world.

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