Hooniverse Asks- Would the Porsche 989 have Made a Better Panamera?

Porsche did something a few years back that it had never done before, it offered for sale a watercooled, front-engined, four door SUV. Strangely enough, the Earth continued to spin on its axis. Despite the protestations of those who would never be able to afford one of the brand’s products, traditional or otherwise, expanding their product line to include the most popular form factor in recent history proved to be a pretty shrewd move.
More recently, and in response to the four door uber coupes from Mercedes, Aston Martin and Maserati, Porsche has introduced another four door, this time a car. The Panamera is an extraordinary car to drive, in either naturally aspirated, or turbo form, and its application of power  is so seamless that you might be excused to thinking it has suddenly grown wings and a GE turbine.

But it’s not the perfect car, this Panamera. Its interior is less cosseting than it is tight, and the exterior styling would pass for the bell peeler at Notre Dom, so homely is the car. Interestingly, neither the Panamera, nor the Cayenne represents Porsche’s first spin at a four door offspring, and in fact it was only a lack of funds that prevented the company from replacing the evergreen 928 personal express with the 989 four door in the late eighties. That car, looking all the world like a 911 mated with a Dachshund sported a new V8 engine up in its nose, and a multitude of parts interchangeability with the upcoming 996 and Boxtser. It could have set the company on an entirely new track.

But it didn’t, and the question is, was that financial drought a blessing in disguise, forcing Porsche to take the steps of partnering with VW to engineer the highly profitable multi-marque SUV, and eventually the Panamera? Or, would the 989 have carried the company through with enough money that the brand denigrating Cayenne would never have had to see the light of day? One thing’s fro certain, part of the reason the current Porsche four door is so fugly is due to current EU pedestrian safety standards requirements that raise the hood like Urkel’s pants. The 989 never was intended with such egregious standards in mind, and the rear-engine cars have no such problem.
Regardless of that, what’s your thought, would the 989 have made a better Porsche Sedan than does the current Panamera?
Image source: [M5 Board]
Pass European pedestrian safety standards.

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31 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Would the Porsche 989 have Made a Better Panamera?”

  1. buzzboy7 Avatar

    Is life better than death. Yes.

  2. Paul_y Avatar

    What I think is the most interesting implication of this is the alternate reality wherein we could be discussing the merits of used 989s in LeMons (if not now, these would be bottoming out in their depreciation curve pretty soon).

  3. SSurfer321 Avatar

    The 989 looks "better" because they did not sacrifice the flowing lines for rear seat headroom, such as the Panamara. That's not to say it would have saved the brand. I don't know how large the market was in the 90's for expensive touring saloons. I think Porsche made the right decision by introducing the "entry level" Boxter.

    1. dragon951 Avatar

      The slope of the rear roof is the only thing I don't like about the Panamera. If they had trimmed it to more closely follow the line of the rear window, it would have looked much better. Nuts to the rear passengers. They already know you don't like them, or they would have gotten shotgun. They should just slouch and be grateful for the extra legroom.

  4. engineerd Avatar

    If wishes were horses
    Beggars would ride:
    If turnips were watches
    I would wear one by my side.[1]
    And if ifs and ans were pots and pans,
    The tinker would never work!

    I'm not sure. I mean, our concept of what the 989 would have been based on the concept could be wildly different from what the reality would have been. If the Porsche and Piech families had given it the green light, and the finances were dwindling, the 989 may have been more attractive to look at, but probably not anywhere close to the ground-based rocket system the Panamera is.
    My opinion of the Panamera is changing. I've seen several over the last two weeks and the styling is growing on me. The performance is unmistakable and incredible.
    If wishes were horses, the Porsche would give the runway model from Gaydon a run for its sexy curves.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      If dreams were beams
      Each man would've built
      A house so immense
      And covered in gilt
      And founded on gems
      So skillfully honed
      That no dreams be left
      Save to earn what he owned

      1. skitter Avatar

        The day will come when we sleep in tubes and live out our days in palaces inside our mobile phones.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    Maybe if Studebaker had actually built the Porsche Type 542 a 4 door Porsche might make more sense.
    <img src="http://img682.imageshack.us/img682/8194/1954studebaker542bypors.png"width=500&gt; <a href="http://www.studegarage.com/porsche.htm” target=”_blank”>http://www.studegarage.com/porsche.htm

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Um, that's kinda hot.

    2. facelvega Avatar

      I prefer the styling of the other Studebaker/Porsche, the type 633. It looks Brooks Stevens-ey.
      <img src="http://www.studegarage.com/IMAGES/studeporsche/img32.gif"&gt;

      1. tonyola Avatar

        It also looks a little Toyota-ey.
        <img src="http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/photos/B11831.jpg&quot; width=500>

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    I think that Porsche struck while the iron was hot with the Cayenne. The SUV bubble was just getting big, and they made stacked cheddar off of that. That gave the company enough room to expand the model range, and they did the math. It was a good time to introduce a sedan. If they would have produced the 989, odds are it would have been a failure. Leading with the Cayenne was a smart move to expand Porsche customers, and make the Panamera more acceptable.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Furthermore, a less-than-wildly-popular 989 would have left a bitter aftertaste that could have tainted the Panamera. Half the public would be dis'ing it as "just another 989," the other half would be saying "well, it's no 989." At least with all the crap the Panamera gets now, it doesn't have to carry the extra burden of comparison with an older sibling.
      Oh, wait…

  7. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    I still say the Panamera is a fine looking automobile in person and the Cayenne was the right thing to do.
    They are both among the best at what they do, and that is true to the spirit of the company.

  8. mdharrell Avatar

    Suicide doors would help considerably.
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2410/2185816567_e0c965b8c6.jpg&quot; width="450">
    That's generally true, of course.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      Ah, the 911 Troutman. Forget the 989 and the Panamera, we have a winner!
      <img src="http://static.autoblog.nl/images/wp2009/Porsche_911_Troutman-Barnes2.jpg"&gt;
      <img src="http://static.autoblog.nl/images/wp2009/Porsche_911_Troutman-Barnes3.jpg"&gt;

      1. austinminiman Avatar

        While I think the Troutman is a very attractive car, you have to admit it's an appropriate name given the profile. <img src="http://www.myfishingnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/brook_trout.jpg&quot; width="500">

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I have no problem with the Panamera, for two reasons:
    1) I am not the target demographic for any model that low-ends at $75K for the base model.
    2) I am not a Porsche fan-boi. I remain one of the few that thinks that Porsche is a car company, not a deity.

    1. Alff Avatar

      If you do not meet #2, you cannot meet #1.

  10. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    Firstly, it's a sedan, not a coupe.
    The 989 might have looked better, but the 928 certainly didn't do what Porsche was hoping, so it's doubtful a sedan enlargement would have had more success. I also find that the Panamera looks much better in person than in photos.

  11. Black Steelies Avatar

    The 989 is a bit more svelte and car-like towards the rear. The Panamera looks inflated and almost turtle-like. They could have just stretched it a bit more into a more wagon-y form. Still, apart from never having driven one, I can't pick out much wrong. Its seats are so comfortable Dr. Scholls would approve. Porsche takes calculated risks that play out quite well. Kudos.

  12. tonyola Avatar

    The Panamera looks better on the street than it does it photos. While it's not the most beautiful Porsche ever, the length and lowness are much more apparent when you see the car in person. Also, the interior of the Panamera is gorgeous. The biggest visual problems with it are the high beltline and shallow windows, but sadly Porsche is just following industry-wide fashion there. Judging from the pictures, the 989 looks a little awkward in that four doors have been forced onto a car that tries to look as much like a 911 as possible. In addition, rear seat headroom would have been a problem. By the way, Ghia built a four-door prototype for Porsche way back in 1962.
    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/j09n6d.jpg"&gt;

    1. facelvega Avatar

      The corvairster?

      1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        Whoa, yeah… At first it reminded me of the Skoda 110R though:
        <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/92/%C5%A0koda_110_R_1977.jpg/500px-%C5%A0koda_110_R_1977.jpg"&gt;

    2. Paul_y Avatar

      I agree, I recently saw a Panamera up close for the first time this weekend, and it does look much better in the metal.
      …and if the beltline were a reasonable height, it would be gorgeous.

  13. raphaelinberlin Avatar

    on an old (Redacted?) podcast before the Panamera went on sale, Lieberman pointed out that given the techno-wizardry, four-door spcae, and horribly ugly looks, the Panamera is shaping up to be an immensely cool car decades from now when it's lost its new-car sheen and becomes a more aspirational vehicle. I mean, if you could afford it, wouldn't you love to rocket to a million miles in a lumpen turtle-dolphin looking car?

  14. alcology Avatar

    I like the looks of the 989 better, but they are the same car. Both were designed for the same reasons. The one thing that bothers me about both is the line of the door handles is at an angle and not level. What is with that? It makes some sense on the panamera because the rear sweeps up, but on the 989 the belt line is straight and that handle is jacked off it's line. If the 989 were delivered in the 90's with the panamera price, it probably would have failed, so the panamera is the better sedan for being delivered at a time when the market wants to see it.

  15. dragon951 Avatar

    It sure beats a C88.
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3561/3290274872_5ab2425e91.jpg&quot; />

  16. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I've farted better Panameras than Porsche makes.
    Actually, thats a lie. But nobody I've ever spoken to actually likes the Panamera. Not even people who work for Porsche.
    I've not driven the Turbo, but the base model; while measurably excellent in pretty much every way (except elegance and restraint, of course) feels smug, smarmy and self-satisfied. By contrast, with a 911; even a basic Carrera, that sense of edginess and danger always feels only an arms length away.
    The Panamera didn't even have to look like it does. Its relationship to the 911 is pretty vague so I never understood why they bothered trying to make it look like a 911 sedan. They could and should have created an entirely new design language for it.
    Panamera by Porsche. It doesn't have to look like one, just telling people it is one would do the trick.
    I wish they'd gone a bit more Hans Ledwinka on it.

    1. dragon951 Avatar

      Hmm, while I like the Panamera for the most part, I have to admit a modern version of this would be more awesome.
      <img src="http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/01/t77d.jpg"&gt;
      Plus, it would be nice to pay homage to the guy who helped Ferdinand design his first cars.

      1. texlenin Avatar

        I really wish you hadn't said that, because that is a totally cool idea!
        And now I want it.