Form may follow function, but Porsche's Panamera is arguably one case where form and beauty have had a serious disconnect. However, that does not mean the looks and even the dynamics of this seriously good to drive four-door Porsche can't be improved with a little tweaking.
Although the aftermarket has only produced five Panameras so far, these takes range from mild to wild. The wildest is most definitely the FAB Design car that debuted at the Dubai Motor Show, where it looked totally at home. The Oakley Design and SpeedArt cars make up the opposing camp with relatively subtle conversions, while the TechArt offering strikes the middle ground.
"As a company with roots in motorsport, we only make mechanical changes to our cars that improve performance," said Oakley Design's founder, Jon Oakley. "The aerodynamic parts like the front spoiler lip, more deeply sculpted side sills, rear wing cover with Gurney flaps, and the rear diffuser with its deeper boundary layer fences and longer exhaust pipe lips were all wind tunnel tested."
The GT2 style carbon-fiber "moustache" between the top of the front bumper and the bonnet is also fully functional and helps to extract hot air from the big radiator. The only purely cosmetic add-ons are the carbon covers for the roof panel and door mirrors.
Oakley's seven-piece carbon engine bay kit adds a touch of flair to the otherwise drab acres of black plastic that dominate the underbonnet view. The kit includes larger air intake ram pipes to help the twin-turbo V8 breathe more deeply. Unlike some tuners who use carbon-look parts, all of Oakley's carbon-fiber components are formed in an autoclave.
The wheels and exhaust system also fit the Panamera S and 4S, as do the body components, apart from the front spoiler lip and rear wing cover. The front spoiler may look the same at a glance, but if you put a Panamera 4S and a Turbo side by side, you'll see a slight difference in the curvature of the factory bumper. Because of this, Oakley makes an equivalent spoiler lip for the normally aspirated cars, along with a new rear wing cover, since the non-Turbo cars have a single rather than double rear wing.
Changes inside the cabin are minimal, but make a big difference to eye appeal. The black carbon inlay kit and kick plate inlays contrast perfectly with the light gray leather and black carpet mats. The finishing touch is the limited edition plaque on the center console.
Following hot on the heels of Oakley's very successful GT3 and GT2 programs, the Panamera is the third Porsche to be tuned here. "We had to be very careful not to unbalance its strengths in the process," Oakley says. "This is the main reason we decided to stick with 20-inch wheels and the same tire size as the largest factory option." And while Oakley may use the factory wheel and tire sizes, taking 15 pounds out of each wheel has had a positive effect on all-around suspension performance.
"Most people are surprised to learn that wheel and tire weight actually has a bearing on acceleration," Oakley says. "With lightweight wheels and factory PCCBs fitted, you can peel a couple of seconds off the zero to 125 mph time. That's like adding another 25 hp."
Oakley Design uses Dymag two-piece wheels with magnesium centers married to carbon-fiber rims. In spite of their size, these wheels weigh just 18 and 21 pounds front and rear, respectively, which makes them about 20 percent lighter than a forged wheel, and up to 50 percent lighter than a conventional cast alloy wheel. Total weight savings is 77 pounds. Additionally, offsets are 5.0mm greater to bring the wheels closer to the arches. This slightly wider track helps handling and gives the car a better stance.