A few months ago I’d decided the love affair with my Bentley was finally coming to an end, and it was time to invest in something new. Something sporty, something beautiful, possibly something British, but definitely something with four doors. After exploring the options I called the kind people at Aston Martin and placed an order for one Rapide, a true supermodel of the car world. And so there I was.
At the altar of automobiles, ready to happily commit my life (for richer, for poorer, etc) to the Rapide. But just as the priest is doing his whole “speak now or forever hold your peace” bit, BQ magazine come along and thrust one of the most eagerly awaited cars in recent years under my nose – the Porsche Panamera. Not only that, but they asked me to take her away for the weekend and get to know her a bit.
Now our brief encounter didn’t get off to the best of starts when my German supermodel turned up late for our first date, and I was in meetings all afternoon, so it wasn’t until 6:30 on Friday evening that any serious flirting began. So what did I think of the Panamera? Well at first glance she’s stunning – everything you’d expect from a Porsche. But then at second glance she seems a little odd.
Like her legs are too short for her body, or her arms are too long. And the same with glances three, four and five. Because the Panamera can’t seem to make up her mind what kind of car she is. From the front she’s a 911, but walk around the side and she turns into a bloated Chrysler Crossfire coupe. And from another angle she’s something entirely different again. As brides go, the Panamera is more Bride of Frankenstein than Bride of Brook-Chrispin.
But as we’ve all been told by our mothers, looks aren’t everything, and there was every chance the Panamera would turn out to have the most amazing personality. And she didn’t disappoint. The engine is one of the most powerful and refined I’ve driven, and she handles and holds the road superbly; all big ticks. She’s also got some clever features like automatic hill hold, a fuel-saving engine that switches off when stationary, and air suspension that helps you glide effortlessly from A to B.
But sadly that’s where the ticking seemed to stop, and I found myself being niggled by tiny things like the funny displays, the lack of steering wheel controls, the paddle shift, the poor turning circle, and the fact I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fit my new driver in the boot.
No, the type of driver you hit a golf ball with. (Although with the state of my game at the moment, leaving my driver at home might be a good thing.) And there’s the overly practical headroom they’ve given it at the expense of sleek design. I’m sure thePanamera will be driven by some people with big heads, but you could fit a Globetrotter in here. (There’s another joke to be made here about Globetrotters and jet-setters, but we need to start to wrap this up.) And so after a whirlwind weekend we head back to the altar, where the priest has been waiting patiently – he must be hungry by now – and continue with our vows. Was my head turned by the Panamera? Well, yes. For a moment. In the same way your head might be briefly turned by someone reading a magazinemeant for 16-year-olds on the bus. Will I be calling Aston Martin to cancel my order for the Rapide? Not on your Nelly.
Finally, I’ve hopefully got enough room to squeeze in a story of a friend of mine who recently employed a rather simple handyman at his home. On his first day the man told my friend he could neither cut the lawn – on account of his hay fever, nor clean anything – due to the chemicals in cleaning fluids. Eventually they agreed the man could paint, so my friend asked him to paint the porch at the front of the house. Three hours later he returned and declared, “I’ve finished the painting m’lord. And by the way it wasn’t a Porsche, it was a Bentley.”
Car supplied by JCT600, from the Porsche Centre, Leeds. 0844 844 3344, www.jct600.co.uk Model featured, Porsche Panamera 4S, from £80,087 inc. VAT